Battle of the Bands Review
Battle of the Bands box art
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

There were plenty of good rhythm games released in the years prior to the arrival of genre juggernauts Guitar Hero and Rock Band, but it seems they've all been eclipsed by the runaway popularity of the fake instrument peripheral craze. As the new kid on the block, Battle of the Bands tries to buck the trend bring some fresh ideas to the table by embracing the use of wildly imaginative cover tunes and taking the concept of musical rivalry a bit further than most. It's a funny game that unfortunately doesn't fully deliver on an interesting premise.

Battle of the Bands screenshot

It's difficult to follow hot on the heels of a series of stellar music games that have all but ensured future console rhythm-based titles will seem gimpy in comparison if they aren't played with some sort of large plastic mock-instrument. I actually enjoy the fact Battle of the Bands can be played solely with the Wii Remote. It's too bad the controls end up being more of a hindrance than a benefit. The game is not particularly difficult to pick up and learn; it's just nowhere nearly as satisfying as its competition. That's not to say it isn't at least somewhat amusing. The game earns high marks in the style and goofiness categories, even if the gameplay is shallow.

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You'll pick from 11 different fictional prefab bands - goths, punks, hillbillies, undead, rappers, demons, etc. - and plow through a string of competitions playing against other wacky groups. The specific band you pick to play as will determine your default musical style throughout the game. Each of the 30 tunes featured in Battle of the Bands is recorded in five different musical styles including rock, Latin, hip hop, country, and marching band. Every bout features two bands playing the same tune in a completely different musical style. The version of the song you'll hear at any given time will shift back and forth, depending on who's hitting the notes more accurately and dealing heftier damage. It's basically a rock-and-roll tug-of-war with the added entertainment of flamethrower guitars, explosive bombardments, and sprays of bullets.

Battle of the Bands screenshot

Gameplay itself is handled with a limited range of basic motions with the Wii Remote. Players will gesture left, right or down to hit beats with the corresponding directional arrows in time to the music. Stabbing motions come into play to launch some attacks, while minor and heavy shaking maneuvers are also utilized. A temporary force field can be erected with the B button to deflect incoming attacks from your opponents. You'll have the option to switch between three different attacks in a song. Each is launched after the requisite string of beats is hit. Additionally, every so often in mid-song the dueling bands will face-off by taking turns launching strings of attacks and blocking incoming volleys. The hectic gameplay soon becomes old-hat, and it won't take long before the six motions become dull.

Initially, it seems odd the game hounds you to take a break after every single level. Aside from being completely irritating (the time in-between songs could have been far better utilized), the purpose of such warnings soon becomes crystal clear. Those who are resilient enough to clock in past the one-to-two hour mark of Wii Remote waggling will feel the burn caused by extended play.

Battle of the Bands screenshot

Screenshots / Images
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