During recent years, music games have taken the world by storm. While games like Drummania and Guitar Freaks have been around for a while, it was only recently with the release of the Guitar Hero games that the popularity skyrocketed. Battle of the Bands tries to latch onto the popularity of the genre and also bring something new to the table, but ultimately it falls flat.
Battle of the Bands pits various bands from different musical backgrounds in a battle for control of 30 popular songs. The different musical styles range from rock to hip hop to marching band. Each of these different styles has their own versions of popular songs such as “Insane in the Membrane” by Cypress Hill. As the song progresses, each band battles for control of the song by various wiggles and movements from the Wiimote, causing the song to be played in their preferred style. And this is where Battle of the Bands shines. Hearing a marching band rendition of “Spoonman” or a Latin version of “Feel Good Inc” makes the game enjoyable. It was a nice touch by the developers to add a music player to the game, letting you hear the different versions of every song from the moment the game starts. No unlocking needed.
Unfortunately, the gameplay that accompanies such innovation in the sound department is sorely lacking. You basically are stuck wiggling the Wiimote back and forth to register the note hits, sometimes very vigorously. My arm began to hurt after about 20 minutes of play. The battling that takes place in the game, while sounding good on paper, doesn’t really carry over into the gameplay. Pressing the A button selects the attack you would like to use, and you must hit notes as it charges. If you miss a note, the attack is cancelled and you must start the attack all over. While this wouldn’t be a problem with a regular controller, the Wiimote sometimes has trouble registering hits, making launching attacks frustrating. There is also the ability to block incoming attacks, but this is just one more thing heaped onto an already frustrating gameplay experience.
The graphics are subpar at best. They seem like something out of the PS/N64 era. The character models are blocky, backgrounds are bland, and animation of the characters is the same 5 or 6 movements over and over. Even in the area the game could have set itself apart, the characters for the different bands, it falls flat. They are just stereotypical characters representing the worst of each of the musical genres. Even the menus look washed out. I know the Wii is the weakest in terms of horsepower this gen, but I know it’s capable of much better than this.
Battle of the Bands has a good idea, but fails on almost every account to deliver. From the washed out, block graphics to the shoddy, unresponsive gameplay, there is really nothing to recommend a purchase here. While the different versions of popular songs entertain for a while, it’s not enough to warrant a purchase, at least not at full price. I would definitely love to see a CD released of the better songs. That would definitely be worth a purchase.
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