Cubed3 Nintendo gaming, Wii and DS

Battle of the Bands (Wii) Review

Every big gaming company is getting in on the act of the music game nowadays. Activision have Guitar Hero, EA have Rock Band, Sony have Singstar and Nintendo have, for better or worse, Wii Music (and Band Brothers, and Rhythm Tengoku/Heaven, on the less controversial side of things). It seems about right, then, that another company would want to get their foot in the door. Battle Of The Bands is THQ's contender to the throne of music games.

Rather than going for the 'you can be a rock star' approach, Battle Of The Bands decides to play things differently in a music title unlike others that you've played before. It does what it says on the tin - the aim is, rather than to just get through songs without mangling them too royally, to beat down rival bands in a test of skill. There are no solo performances, no record deals, just the need to destroy your fellow musicians on the stage - and it does so in as crazy manner as possible, with the likes of hip hop groups shooting giant cannons at the losing side. You couldn't really say it was the most serious game in the music genre.

The game is constantly set in a split screen style to accommodate both bands, with a Guitar Hero-style playfield on each side, though notes stream upwards instead. These notes are activated with swings of the Wii remote and come in six varieties: standard left/right/downwards swipes, a stabbing forward motion and ones where you must gently or vigorously wave from side to side, depending on whether the zig-zags guiding you are small (indicating gentle movement) or large (faster movement). Hitting notes obviously accumulates points, and the overall aim is to get more points than your opponent. The battle setting means it isn't all that easy, though. Weapons will appear atop upcoming notes if you keep a combo of correct inputs going, and when these are hit they'll fly over to your opponents side of the screen to do various intrusive things to their playfield, from simple bombs taking away some of their points to smoke screens obscuring their view. You can select three weapons you want to use from a bunch before each game and then cycle through them with the d-pad or the A button. Of course, your rival can also bombard you with irritants, so you've got to be at the ready to block them with a well-timed press of the B button to bring up a split-second shield, all the while keeping your rhythm. It's not very deep at all, but it's a fair addition.

Screenshot for Battle of the Bands on Wii - on Nintendo Wii U, 3DS games review

This might all sound interesting, but the real selling point of Battle Of The Bands is the track listing and what they've done with it. For starters, there's a nice mix of artists, from Gorillaz to Rick James to Soundgarden - you'll probably be able to find something you like in there. You're not going to just play straight versions of any of the songs though, oh no. Instead, you select a band, each of whom has a different musical style, and you will play the chosen track in a form adapted to your band's genre, the genres being rock, hip hop, country, latin and marching band. Not only that, but since you're in a battle and your opponent will have a differing style to your own band, the tracks constantly cross over between genres as each side gains and loses momentum. It's a fantastic idea that keeps things fresh and provides laughs alike - the tracks are never warped beyond recognition, and it's genuinely fun to hear how they're changed to be played in a completely different genre. There are no master tracks, but the covers (in all genres) are pretty decent.

If you're expecting a 'but'...sadly, you'd be right. While the concept is brilliant, and the audio implementation is great, the whole experience is let down by the controls. The gameplay is a bit simplistic, but we don't mind that because it's like other music games with a limited number of inputs (i.e. Guitar Hero only having the five colours); any more and it'd probably get too much on the higher difficulty settings. The controls, on the other hand, are just too random in terms of what gets recognised as an input. You can be playing along hitting notes perfectly, swinging the Wii remote in the same way each time and it'll miss a note every so often, even though you're not adjusting the way you're playing - not a massive amount of notes, mind, but enough to be annoying. We reckon it's an issue on the programming side more than anything else, as, while we've seen issues like this before with the Wii remote, the controller can handle things much more sensitively than this (see: Wario Ware Smooth Moves). In addition, you really have to swing the remote to activate an input - why? It's a little fun to get so physical with it, for a time, but you have to wonder why it couldn't have been made to work with smoother motions rather than sharp movements. It can be a real workout on the wrist/arm in its current form and, even worse, the developers even seemed to be aware of this, as screens will pop up between every few songs advising you to take a break. If they knew this issue existed, why could it not have been toned down?

Battle Of The Bands has good things to its name: an interesting and varied tracklist and a unique approach in the mixing of styles that stands out amongst its peers, mainly. It's completely let down by a control scheme that does not appear to have been tested thoroughly, however, which is a real shame. Here's hoping it gets sorted out in the future so that something like this can be fully appreciated.

Screenshot for Battle of the Bands on Wii - on Nintendo Wii U, 3DS games review

Gameplay

The gameplay and concept themselves are fine - it's the control that really ruins this one. We have no clue why it was thought that moving the remote around that sharply was a good idea, and even then notes don't get recognised properly all the time.

Graphics

The characters hanging around in the background are all sufficiently stereotypical and zany, but the models are purely middle ground PS2-standard. The play field is basic but does the job in much the same way as other popular music games. We like the cartoony smoke effects.

Sound

The sound effects are a little weak, but the track list and the music-warping more than makes up for this. The remote's speaker and rumble are used well too for feedback.

Value

If you want to hear 30 or so songs in five genres, you're in for a treat, as they're all well-done as well. The single player won't keep you going for that long, but the versus mode could. Shame it's not online. If you can get it on the cheap it's worth a shot if you're into your music/party games.

Cubed3 Rating

5/10
Rated 5 out of 10

Mediocre

About this score

If the controls had been tested and refined more, Battle Of The Bands could easily have hopped up a couple of points. The concept of genre-mixing is an exciting one that leads to great moments, but getting through the game wholly satisfied can be arduous due to the forceful nature in which you must use the Wii remote. It's definitely not on the level of the 'big boys' of music games, but with a better budget, more time and more effort, there's something lurking under there that has potential.

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20.07.2008

4

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Developer

THQ

Publisher

THQ

Genre

Rhythm

Players

2

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  5/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date TBA   Australian release date Out now   

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Reader comments - add yours today Comments on this Review

Senior ModeratorStaff Member

Nice review Mike Smilie Shame about the low score though. I tried it at Play Live earlier this year and it seemed pretty alright, though sometimes not picking up movements at such crucial times.

Saw it for...

Cubed3 Admin/Founder & Designer

I bought this for

It's a shame to hear the control scheme isn't up to much. The game idea sounds quite good, definitely makes a change from the other music games that have been coming out recently.

Excellent review Mason. Smilie

i thought its a ds game x.x

"Sony always wins baby.. Sony always wins.." - Chad Warden on pstripple
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