At first glance Battle of the Bands might seem like a cheap rip-off of Guitar Hero. And in essence, it is. You get tunes to "play" along to (though across a multitude of genres here) and the better you do, the further you’ll progress.
As the title hints, it’s all about battling between the bands. No, the guitars won’t be cracking a few skulls, but it heads down the route of the kind of guitar duels that populated the third Guitar Hero title.
It’s a touch more in-depth of course, this being an entire game focused on such a subject. Prior to battling it out with a particular track you get to opportunity to choose your batch of "attacks" to unleash upon your competing band. These can range from smoke screens to block their board, through to making their notes so small they’re virtually impossible to hit.
Take the lead and the song will play in the style of your chosen genre. There’s five genres to choose from: rock, marching band, Latin, country, and hip-hop. So if you’ve ever craved hearing a marching band version of Blitzkrieg Bop, then this is probably the best opportunity you’re ever likely to get.
The differences and intrigue ultimately finish there however. The main crux of your time will be spent making the right Wii Remote jerks and movements in time with the various icons that pop-up on screen. The majority encourage a swing to the left or right, but every now and again you’ll have to shake the Remote like you’re attempting to swat a particularly aggressive fly.
Hitting the beats however doesn’t feel even vaguely as responsive as Guitar Hero. Unlike the aforementioned classic guitar-a-thon, missing a note won’t cause a missed note from the actual track, making you feel much less in control of the aural experience.
Plus, the response rate isn’t up to the usual high quality of most Wii titles. Once every few tracks the game seemingly decides that it fancies ignoring a jerk and shake of the Remote you’ve made, causing a missed note that you’re certain that you hit. And as anyone who has ever played a video game before, that’s a heck of minus point to level against any title. And when you consider that a half hour stint will tire you out just as much as a shot at Wii Fit, it makes these misses an even bigger problem.
Essentially these pair of flaws are the major reasoning behind the encouragement to give Battle of the Bands a miss. The lack of real connection with the music - something which is absolutely essential in a game based on its tunes - simply forces Battle of the Bands to miss out on any of its potential fun.
A hint of humour and wit is attempted via the story cutscenes that encourage you through the game, but they’re unfortunately dull at best. And though the visuals are up to the standard of Guitar Hero, there’s nothing to make this stand out above some of the best titles on the Wii.
Battle of the Bands might be insanely desperate to grab itself a piece of the Rock Band/Guitar Hero pie, but it simply can’t cut the mustard. Dodgy Wii Remote sensitivity, and gameplay that consists of merely repetitively flicking your wrist for hours on end isn’t enough to get us fans of the rhythm action genre excited anymore.
With the likes of Rock Band, Guitar Hero, and even Gitaroo Man on the market, there’s little point in picking up Battle of the Bands for anything more than a bargain basement price.