Cubed3 Nintendo gaming, Wii and DS

Guitar Hero 5 (Wii) Review

Review for Guitar Hero 5 on Wii - on Nintendo Wii U, 3DS games review

Activision have been criticised for their reliance on existing brands in recent years. One such brand is Guitar Hero, which has experienced a steady increase of titles per year thanks to spin offs. Does Guitar Hero 5 set itself apart enough to be worthy of purchase in the franchise's latest Nintendo Wii outing?

It seems futile to explain the gameplay of Guitar Hero in more than rudimentary detail yet again, seeing as little in the way of core mechanics has changed. As with the others, you stand - or sit - firm with your chosen instrument, be it guitar, bass or drums, and strum or tap along in time with the colourful gems that hurtle down the screen, each of the colours corresponding to a pad or button on your big plastic controller. If you would rather your throat take the toll than your digits, you can sing your heart out on the microphone, following the on-screen lyrics and attempting to match pitch. Do well and score-boosting Star Power becomes available. Any extra bits added in Guitar Hero: World Tour, such as support of the touch strip featured on Guitar Hero guitars to make finger-shredding solos brilliantly fun, are all in here. Guitar Hero 5 is essentially Guitar Hero: World Tour 2.

That's no bad thing, as World Tour was close to the top when it came to the Guitar Hero games. Rather than doing anything drastically different in gameplay terms, developers Vicarious Visions have decided to expand upon the modes. Keen to take advantage of the social aspect of music games, all songs are now unlocked from the very beginning in Quick Play, and they have popped in a Party Play mode. This acts like an interactive jukebox - left to itself, it'll rest on the title screen and rattle through the tracklist in the background, but anybody can grab a peripheral and get stuck in at any time. Should that person grow bored, they can hop right back out of the game, or skip through tracks at their leisure. Any complication barrier of music titles is stomped right down; now if you only want to play along to a favourite guitar solo you can ignore the rest and only play that part. You only need go through the frustrations of setting everything up perfectly if a few of you want a serious session.

That's still possible, of course, and has also been given a little twist. Now you're no longer restricted to one of each instrument; up to four players can mix and match whatever they want. You could have four guitars at once, four vocalists, three bass and a drum, two vocalists sharing the limelight over the gentle clatter of a pair of get the picture. Most will probably still go for the standard set up, but it's a great option.

Screenshot for Guitar Hero 5 on Wii - on Nintendo Wii U, 3DS games review

Wii's success has not always been reflected in the way that it has been supported outside of Nintendo, but to Activision's credit Guitar Hero 5 fully exploits the console. Downloadable content is available from the off with a dedicated in-game store, supporting download of track packs as well as single songs to Wii or SD card. Tracks stored on the SD card take slightly longer to load, but it's not a big deal. You can export the majority of the songs from Guitar Hero: World Tour, Guitar Hero: Greatest Hits and Band Hero into Guitar Hero 5 if you have a sufficiently-sized SD card and copies of the games to hand, giving a massive boost to the number of songs available for a reasonable cost - each game's export licensing fee ranges between 200 and 500 Nintendo Points. Online multiplayer is easy to connect to, with standard guitar duels and all-out full band clashes supported with a variety of rules. Leaderboards and the music making portion of the games introduced in World Tour, GHTunes, are as present in the Wii edition as they are in any other.

Screenshot for Guitar Hero 5 on Wii - on Nintendo Wii U, 3DS games review

In fact, Nintendo has gotten the better deal with Guitar Hero 5. On top of the standard content, they also benefit from some Wii exclusive modes. Make-your-own-music mode Mii Freestyle makes a return, giving your Mii the chance to rock out to a selection of genres. Switch on your instrument and play whatever you like along to the backing track or follow the recommended notes, it makes absolutely no difference - there are no scores to worry about, it's all about doing whatever you feel like. When you're done you can play your performance back, save it and even send it to eight friends via Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection. More significant is the support of Nintendo DS. Connect your two-screened wonder in Mii Freestyle and you take the role of stage manager, mucking around with the lights, cameras and special effects with the touch screen.

It's also used in the Roadie Battle mode. This plays like a standard guitar duel, only one or two people can also join in by utilising DS Download Play. Those on DS are the roadies, each teaming up with one of the Wii players. As the guitars are being played, the roadies will attempt to sabotage the opposing guitar player through a series of mini-games, including breaking, restringing and swapping guitars to flip the colours around, or setting fire to the stage. The same roadies will also have to constantly dash back to the aid of their own team and repair damage done by their counterpart; blowing into the microphone to put out flames, for example. It's probably the best use of Wii/DS connectivity seen yet, and the fact that you can have AI taking the place of any of the guitarists or roadies means that, even if you only have one DS and one Wii guitar available, you can still play some form of local multiplayer on Guitar Hero 5.

Screenshot for Guitar Hero 5 on Wii - on Nintendo Wii U, 3DS games review

The main thing that lets Guitar Hero 5 down is actually the setlist. There are some superb, well-requested songs in the list - Muse's Plug In Baby, Queen's Under Pressure, Stevie Wonder's Superstition to name a few - but overall it doesn't feel up to the standard of Guitar Hero: World Tour's or Harmonix's rival Rock Band titles. Credit where it's due in bringing more David Bowie and T-Rex to music games and finally locking down the involvement of artists such as The White Stripes and Elton John, but the game would have benefited from stronger tracks and less emphasis on newer songs. There's still plenty to have fun with, though, and it's without doubt the music game that takes advantage of Wii the most.

Screenshot for Guitar Hero 5 on Wii- on Nintendo Wii U, 3DS games review


Same old, same old, but if the gameplay is still making the crowd roar, why change it? The Wii exclusive modes, particularly the DS-friendly Roadie Battle, set this above the rest. Party Play is something that should be in all music games in the future.


The models from World Tour are reused and perhaps needed sprucing up, but it looks fine. There are no longer distracting slogans announcing that your Star Power is ready; you can tell by looking at the tidier interface instead, or by listening out for a little jingle.


The tracklisting is a little lacking in big songs, but it's still a great effort. The downloadable content and the ability to export in Guitar Hero: World Tour, Guitar Hero: Greatest Hits and Band Hero tracks helps this out a lot.


85 songs on a disc should not be sniffed at. The export functionality and new modes mean that this has plenty of party potential for the foreseeable future.

Cubed3 Rating

Rated 9 out of 10

Exceptional - Gold Award

About this score
Rated 9 out of 10

Guitar Hero 5 sets a new precedent for how music games should be treated on Wii. Nintendo have clearly come out with the best version of the game thanks to Vicarious Visions' work in ensuring a healthy spread of modes, including ones only to be found on Wii that make fantastic use of the system. The tracklist could be better, but proper export, DLC and multiplayer support mean that Nintendo, Activision and fans of the series alike should be happy with the latest mainline entry into the Guitar Hero series.

Read and post comments

 Buy Guitar Hero 5 (Wii) Buy Guitar Hero 5 (Wii)

Share this Review Share this Review




Games you may also like...









Online enabled

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  9/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  9/10 (1 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date None   Australian release date Out now   

Reader comments - add yours today Comments on this Review

There are no replies to this review yet. Why not be the first?

Me wantee. Not a ton of songs I'm dying for (though there really never is,) but my favorite band has a song on it, so it's a win for me.

NNID: crackedthesky
My blog, mostly about writing:
Yout name (guest) 24.01.2010 19:52#2

Kinda the same as normal guitar hero and rock bands just different music. what is new then?

Senior ModeratorStaff Member

Yout name (guest) said:
Kinda the same as normal guitar hero and rock bands just different music. what is new then?

Not so much new, but revised and improved! There's some cool Wii exclusive modes like Miis and freestyling that sounds pretty fun. But I do agree in a way, if you're not interested much in the setlist it may not be worth investing in if you've got better line-ups on older discs - export feature sounds redeeming however. Quite liked the line-up in World Tour!

Cubed3 Admin/Founder & Designer

What's new is that they took the stuff from World Tour that was new but didn't work correctly (i.e. good luck trying to activate star power on drums if you're not already supposed to be hitting an orange note, it might work 3% of the time) and implemented it properly, cleaned it up, and made it smoother.
Also, they added the abiility to drop in and out of songs and change difficulty without restarting the song completely, and two players can use the same instrument if they want.

NNID: crackedthesky
My blog, mostly about writing:

Yout name (guest) said:
Kinda the same as normal guitar hero and rock bands just different music. what is new then?

The Roadie Battle mode, the adjustment of the interface, adjustment of Star Power activation, multiple use of the same instruments, proper support of export/DLC, the improved Mii Freestyle mode that allows you to save and send performances...this version has a bunch of additions.

I imported Smash Hits and Band Hero into GH 5, so for $10 I got 80 songs and all in all, $60 spent instead of $150. I also updated the DLC I had for World Tour and some files are smaller and the sound is better. Now, what has Rock Band done for Wii owners?

Sorry to say, but precisely. On other formats, Rock Band rules the roost, but Activision is simply supporting Wii better than Harmonix.

Senior ModeratorStaff Member

Vicarious Visions really are a wonderful studio. They take their work seriously -- Nintendo fans never get shortchanged when they're developing a title for the system.

That said, I've already bought two Guitar Hero Wii games. I just can't bring myself to pay for a third.

Nice review Mike!

( Edited 30.01.2010 00:25 by Jacob4000 )

C3 Moderator

Comment on this review

You can comment as a guest or join the Cubed3 community below: Sign Up for Free Account Login

Preview PostPreview Post Your Name:
Validate your comment
  Enter the letters in the image to validate your comment.
Submit Post

Subscribe to this topic Subscribe to this topic

If you are a registered member and logged in, you can also subscribe to topics by email.

Follow this topic Follow this topic

Keep up with new comments with the RSS feed for this topic, or subscribe via email above.
Turqoise Radio - Cubed3's Glass to the Wall
Sign up today for blogs, games collections, reader reviews and much more
Latest news and updatesSite Feed
Vote on our latest community pollNintendo Poll
Vote: Which eShop Games will you Download this Week?
Castlevania III: Dracula's Curse
Disney Epic Mickey 2: The Power of Two
Disney Epic Mickey: Power of Illusion
Etrian Odyssey Untold: The Millennium Girl Demo
F-Zero: Maximum Velocity
Giana Sisters: Twisted Dreams
Golden Sun
I am in the Movie
Mario Golf: World Tour Demo
My Exotic Farm
My Farm
Nintendo Pocket Football Club
Putty Squad
Tiny Games - Knights & Dragons
Member of the weekMember of the Week
This week's top member is jres80, awarded the most stars for great posts.
Online Play and ChatOnline Nintendo Play & Chat
General Chatroom: Click here to chat Wii U Nintendo Network Codes - Find other Nintendo Wii U users 3DS Nintendo Network Codes - Find other Nintendo 3DS users
Listen to our Nintendo Jukebox - Classic Mario, Zelda, Metroid songs and more Nintendo news and reviews on the move