|System: Wii, DS||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Fall Line Studios||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 10+||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
Drums are played by wielding controls like sticks and swinging in different ways to match notes that move vertically down the screen along a two-lane runway. As the vocalist you won't worry about singing. Instead you'll execute punches, jabs, poses, and other moves separately with your right and left arms. The basic controls for each instrumental style are tight and responsive, while some of the advanced moves don't always work as planned. You have the option of going solo or playing with three other pals. Ultimate Band does manage to pull off the rock simulation experience in a way that's still enjoyable to play. It's no real replacement for the gameplay possible with a plastic instrument peripheral, but it's fun and somewhat of a challenge regardless.
At a glance, Ultimate Band has a similar flow to Rock Band and Guitar Hero titles; each venue offers a handful of tunes to play through, and you'll have to do well in each song to unlock the next tier. Instead of an encore, you'll face a band battle at the end of each song grouping. Beyond that, the game's progression differs noticeably when it comes to objectives. For every song, you're given the option of playing as the guitarist, bassist, singer, or drummer. Instead of playing each song once and moving on, you're forced to earn a pre-determined number of accolades in a particular venue before the next one is unlocked. This means you have no choice but to replay the same three songs in each location as different instrumentalists in order to move on. While it encourages players to test out and become familiar with the four different ways to play, this mechanic really bogs down the flow of the game. It unnecessarily lengthens the game, perhaps to make up for a meager set list.
The poppy, rock-heavy track listing contains more than 30 tunes. There's a good mixture of older and new songs; the only problem is every track in the entire game is a cover performed essentially by the same band (with an option to have either male or female vocals). Quality-wise, the mostly-catchy covers aren't too bad, and young players won't care much about whether they're performed by the original artists.
Ultimate Band won't live up to the high expectations of most players who've already had a taste or Rock Band and Guitar Hero, but it's a perfect fit for families on a budget with younger kids who are just looking for something music-oriented to play. Not having to lay out huge sums of cash is a big bonus. However, the fake instruments are part of what makes the current generation of rhythm games so enjoyable. Playing tunes with the Wii Remote and Nunchuk can be challenging and entertaining. It's just not the same and all but the youngest crowds will notice the difference.
CCC Staff Contributor