|System: Wii||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Planet Moon Studios||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: THQ||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: April 21, 2008||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1-2||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Teen||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
One Band Leaves
by Nathan Meunier
March 17, 2008 - Stiff competition and rivalry between bands is one thing, but busting out flamethrower guitars is something completely different. The latter is arguably far more entertaining a thought than sitting through a typical battle of the bands competition. THQ and Planet Moon Studios' upcoming Battle of the Bands for Wii takes a more literal approach to the idea with humorous musical rhythm gameplay and explosive antics.
The concept brings to mind a sort of musical version of Beyond Thunderdome: two bands enter; one band leaves. While the largely successful Guitar Hero and Rock Band franchises are likely to remain at the top of the music game food chain, Battle of the Bands shows promise. It certainly seeks to provide a slightly stranger excursion into the realm of gaming rock without having to throw down the cash for a fancy peripheral.
Known as Band Mashups before its recent title change, the game mixes unusual musical styles and rhythm gameplay in a crazy way. Essentially, two different bands will battle it out on-screen while playing the same song. The musical style of the song will shift back and forth frequently between different two genres as one band hits notes more accurately than the other and increases their score. Inputting Wii Remote commands in time with the beat builds your scores to launch attacks designed to trip up the opposing band. Also, the higher a player scores, the longer the tune will be played in their musical style.
Battle of the Bands will feature 30 licensed tracks spanning a wide berth of musical genres. A handful of bands with tracks in the game include Tenacious D, The Ramones, The Commodores, KC and the Sunshine Band, Def Leppard, Kool and the Gang, LL Cool J, Soundgarden, and Cypress Hill, among others. The songs are recorded in their original musical style as well as four other genres; in and of itself, this should make for some fun and amusing combinations. Each song can be played in rock, country, marching band, hip hop, and ranchero style, which allows for up 150 different variations between the 30 songs.
You'll be able to choose from 11 different bands to play as, and each possesses a distinctly different look and member makeup. A few examples include a giant afro-toting 70s funk group, demonic hellions, fancily-dressed socialites, punk rockers, a marching band with a baton-twirler, and a country western group. The band members themselves are interesting to watch as they play off against the opposing group. Graphically, Battle of the Bands won't melt you eyes with its technical prowess, but the game's definitely got style. The bands don't just play their instruments either; they fire off blasts of flame, launch smoke bomb attacks, and generally attempt to vaporize one another. The game includes 70 weapons and special attacks. All of the instruments in the game are "weaponized," so the characters will frequently take a break from rocking to tilt their saxophone, guitar or whatever they're playing and fire off a volley of some sort at the opposing band.
Visual antics will probably be of more benefit to onlookers, since players will have their hands full dividing their attention between hitting rhythm commands scrolling up the screen and attempting to thwart incoming attacks. Similar to Guitar Hero, a virtual fret board is displayed beneath each band, and you'll use motion controls to enter various commands as they travel up the screen. You'll be swinging the Wii Remote left, right, down, and at the screen in time to the beat. Accuracy with longer note runs will give your band control of the tune in their selected style and also lets you to fire off attacks to mess up your opponent. Incoming attacks must be blocked by hitting the B button with the proper musical timing while continuing to input commands. It looks like there's the potential for things to get pretty hectic, though the controls are fairly straight forward. It's hard to tell whether they'll be able to hold players' interest with only simple motions.
Battle of the Bands is clearly designed around providing a strong multiplayer experience, and it's apt to become a party favorite. That said, Planet Moon Studios has also put effort into making the solo game equally satisfying. The single-player campaign features stories for each of the 11 bands as they battle their way through the ranks for a chance to take on the game's final boss and his "Violent Orchestra."
Humor and musical variety will not be lacking here, but we'll have to wait to see if the gameplay itself will hold up over time. At the very least, Battle of the Bands exudes style, and it's a great concept overall. Hopefully, the game lives up to its full potential as an enticing addition to the rhythm game genre on the Wii. We'll find out when the game ships in late April.
CCC Staff Contributor