If you have never played Guitar Hero, Rock Band, Donkey Konga, or even Amplitude, then you might find enjoyment in the child-like gameplay of Battle of the Bands.
As the title implies, this title revolves around competing against other bands. Instead of just hitting notes like in Guitar Hero, bands are constantly competing against each other. While this game concept may sound interesting, it is actually marred with poor gameplay decisions and implementation.
The highlighting feature of Battle of the Bands is the ability to cover a tune into different genres of music. Have you ever heard Insane in the Brain with a country twist? Or how about a classic rock sound repeated through a rhyming rap or the steady beat of a marching band? Having 30 tunes covered in this game may be a little on the limited side, but each song essentially has 5 different versions to experiment with. But this game based around music has a mixed bag of audio quality.
Changing a tune from rock to rap to county on the fly is a pretty cool feature. Unfortunately, the game’s track list is not. Out of the 30 songs, I was only able to recognize about a handful. And unlike Rock Band or Guitar Hero, I doubt there will be an option to download new tracks.
The game’s original concept deserves a few nods, but the gameplay is rather bland. Hitting notes is done by waggling the Wii-mote in one of four directions (left, right, down, and stab), and unlike Guitar Hero, notes scroll up instead of down. The problem with hitting these notes is the lack of difficulty. Even on the hardest difficulty setting, the player should have no trouble defeating the enemy AI. And since there is essentially only four “moves” (or if you want to call them “notes”), gameplay gets boring pretty quick. After playing through the tutorial and two rounds on easy, players should be able to conquer the hardest difficulty without much of a problem.
Playing these songs does not really require any skill. Guitar Hero was difficult for everyone the first time they played it. But with practice, Easy gamers turned into Expert gamers just like using a real guitar. In Battle of the Bands, any moron can pick up the Wii-mote and waggle away. The gameplay is so simple, there isn’t really any room for player skill improvement.
In fact, instead of feeling rewarded for completing a song, I felt like I was actually being punished because my wrist hurt from all the awkward Wii-mote waggling. It is games like this that you will wish Nintendo never invented motion controls. After completing a song, the game even tells you to take a break because it knows that your wrist is on the verge of breaking.
To make matters worse, the player never really feels like they are part of the band, but rather, a groupie who likes to keep time by the basic clapping of hands or stomping of feet from the audience. In Rock Band, if you miss a note, that note does not play and the song’s quality decreases. In this title, if you miss a “move,” the sound quality remains static.
I found that the “battle” concept in Battle of the Bands to be more of an inconvenience than a gameplay enhancer. After you successfully perform few “moves” without missing, the player will automatically launch some type of an attack at the opponent. Smoke screens, lighting bolts, and fire balls are some of the offensive maneuvers that you can launch at your opponent to hinder his advancement. But these offensive attacks render themselves useless if you are playing against another human or on a more difficult AI setting as they can be blocked. If the “B” button is tapped at the right moment, attacks can be blocked via a green shield that pops up over the player’s rhythm board. Again, because the gameplay is so easy, two human players could very well block every attack that is thrown their way.
The graphics and game presentation are on the sub-par side as well. Before each battle, the player must read several lines of horribly written dialog between the dueling characters. Think of the terrible phrases that each Street Fighter character says after they win a match, and multiply that crappiness by three. And there is no option to make a custom band either. The player must simply choose from a pre-set band and just go with the flow. The lack of customization and options really eliminates any type of gameplay personality and flavor.
In the vast majority of games that include a built-in music player often go ignored. But Battle of the Bands music player is probably the best aspect of this game. Being able to change a song’s genre on the fly is actually quite amusing. But you know your game has problems when you have more fun listening to the game’s music player option than actually playing the game.
The developers at Planet Moon deserve some props. They have created a somewhat original concept, but just failed on the execution side of the gameplay. Using only a few different motions with the Wii-mote is very restricting and actually makes gameplay feel child-like. Guitar Hero and Rock Band are leaps and bounds better than this title, but you still can impress your friends by switching the genres of each song. This game is a worthy of a 2-day rental at best.