Review By: Brittany Vincent
|Developer:||Planet Moon Studios|
|# Of Players:||1-2|
With the advent of Guitar Hero, the gaming industry knew that music and rhythm games were a market yet to be milked for all that they were worth here in the United States. The mega-successful Guitar Freaks, Drummania, Beatmania, and more similar games had already received praise for years in Japan, so it was only a matter of time before American developers jumped on the bandwagon, following a trend that Harmonix and Konami popularized stateside. From that movement we've received some truly amazing titles, lots of shovelware, and some of those games that don't really fit on either end of the spectrum. They're not the best, but they certainly aren't the worst.
Battle of the Bands for the Nintendo Wii fits somewhere in the middle of astonishingly good and horrifyingly bad. At its core it is a mediocre music/rhythm game that seemed brimming with potential, but falls miserably short. It's a shame, too. The premise, with more work and polish, could have been a fantastic endeavor. To put it simply though, Battle of the Bands is just okay.
Upon starting up the game and choosing between one of the modes (a versus mode, a story, and a tutorial to learn how things work), you will be able to pick through a few different bands. A total of eleven different bands are available at the onset, requiring no unlocking to choose whoever you want to use. Each outfit specializes in a different genre. Among the musical stylings represented, you have rock, Latin, marching band, hip-hop, and even country. Whoever you choose will perform a song in the genre that they predominantly play. I chose the bands that I noticed performed in the rock genre, because they looked the most ridiculous and I ate up their pseudo-Gothic looks.
As for the graphics, they're average at best. It's gotten to the point that you really can't ask too much from the Wii in the graphics department anymore because Nintendo's main focus these days is on the casual gamer. Band members are appropriately wacky and cartoony, and arenas are bland but colorful. It's nothing you haven't seen before, and it's definitely nothing you won't see again in the near future.
The game can best be described as a sort of "Guitar Hero lite". You have the identical track that resembles a fretboard and a display where small panels will rise from the bottom to the top in time to the music. Rather than including a peripheral on which to perform the song of your choice, the game is controlled simply by waggling the Wii Remote up, down, left, and right. Sometimes it is necessary to shake the remote along a line on-screen akin to an electrocardiograph. Depending on your place in the song, the lines will be wider or thinner.
It seems quite simple in theory, but in execution it falls flat. For up and down movements, gentle flicks back and forth with the Wii Remote are acceptable. However, the notes on the left and right sides of the board require large, exaggerated movements. Often, you will swear you hit them at the right moment, but the motion-tracking is not sensitive enough sometimes to register that you did indeed hit that note. Other times, moving the Wii Remote too much will create sort of a rubber-band effect where the onscreen indicator of your remote bounches back and forth between left and right. This causes you to of course miss that note and subsequent ones because the cursor is no longer at the middle.
You can imagine how frustrating it is to be moving along smoothly on Easy mode only to be set back due to the game's poor motion detection. Even though technically you might be able to perform phenomenally on the game's Hard setting (there is an Easy, Medium, and Hard), because of the high level of difficulty in actually reaching the target, you won't get very far.
Posted: 2008-09-12 11:08:13 PST