|System: DS, Wii||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Fall Line||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Disney Interactive||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Nov. 25, 2008||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1-4||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Everyone||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
Lead guitar is played by plucking the virtual strings on the guitar with the stylus. The guitar neck takes up both the top and bottom screen. Notes cascade down the strings and when they get into range, on the bottom touch screen, you will have to touch them at the intersecting point while pressing the appropriate direction on the D-pad simultaneously.
Each note indicates which direction to press. Without question, playing lead guitar is the most difficult of all the instruments with the bass guitar coming in a close second. Rhythm guitar just requires strumming, and while that may be easier than having to press the D-pad in conjunction with the notes, it doesn't always register each and every strum precisely. I could not find a way to compensate for this.
The drums are the most fun, but least challenging. It's a welcome break from sweating over a hot lead guitar. Notes fall on the snare drum and it's just a matter of hitting the snare to the beat of the descending notes. There's a reason why the drums are so easy, so your friend can be in your band too. And that brings me to the multiplayer component of the game. There is a head-to-head challenge for those with a competitive streak, but it's the co-op mode that really shines. Here you can actually put together a virtual band with people from around the world, or your own neighborhood, as the game supports local and wireless networks. Up to three other players can be a part of your band, and like I mentioned, your friend can be the drummer.You can make tracks in the studio. Layer beats and add various musical patterns and progressions, as you add rhythm guitar, bass, and some lead. There are templates that you can use or go for total creative freedom. There are drum beats and loops that you can use as the foundation for your tracks or you can create your own. It's all easy to use and fun to experiment with. You can share your tunes with the online community but let's face it, unless you're a musical genius, not too many people really want to hear your experimental noodlings. But it's a great place to get ideas and feedback from.
Ultimate Band is not a looker. It's colorful and cartoonish but it lacks personality. The characters look like Lego-people and the backgrounds are either generic or tacky. The instruments are well designed; they are big and take up both screens. The menus are easy to access as is the control scheme that will accommodate both left and right handed gamers. There are 15 tunes, but not performed by the original artists. The cover band does do a good job. Unlike the Wii, there are no vocals in this version. But you can connect to the Wii and use the DS to control the lighting production. It's not a big deal, but at least it's a deal.
Ultimate Band may not make you a star, but at least it will make you feel like one.
CCC Senior Writer