Review: Battle of the Bands
Rock Band but about £100 cheaper.
“To make a good music game, you need to make the player feel like a performerâ€. Horse shit! That was a quote I took form another review I read for this game (not naming names) while I was doingâ€¦ ummmmâ€¦ research. The point they were fumbling about with was that games like Guitar Hero and Rock Band are the only good rhythm action games, but these titles have lost the essence of what made the awesome original great rhythm action games like (choosing only the relatively well known ones) Parappa the Rapper, Um Jammer Lammy, Bust a Groove and Vib Ribbon (to name but a few) so awesome.
These are the true original rhythm action games whereas Guitar Hero and Rock Band (as good as they are) are more musical simulations (and yes I know they’re nothing like real instruments). Personally I love the rhythm action games a lot more than the musical simulations (but they’re still good).
Onto the point. Battle of the Bands (BotB) is one of these old school easy to access Rhythm Action games. Essentially you choose a band in one of five styles â€“ Rock, Latino, Brass Band, Country and Soul/Funk/Hiphop. You then play though a succession of story mode levels (each with a mildly annoying written dialogue between opponents) â€“ with level progression you unlock more stages/songs/opponents and more weapons for you to use during play (more on how the weapons work later).
Each level works as follows â€“ much like in Guitar Hero a set of notes move towards a line and you make the appropriate action when it reaches the line in time with the music, the actions that you make are nice and simple â€“ wave the remote to the left, wave it to the right, wiggle the remote left and right mildly, wiggle the remote wildly, hit it down (like a drumstick) or stab it forward (like poking Vernon Kay in the eye) â€“ obviously you can only perform one attack at a time. Hitting a note will give you points (25 for perfect, or 15 or 10) and continual streaks of hit notes allow you to fire weapons (that do damage/earn you points) and at the end of a level the highest score wins.
Each band can choose from a selection of attacks/weapons. Usually they can choose one fast-light damaging attack, one slow-heavy, and one that will inflict a negative status effect on the opponent for a short time such as covering your opponents board in smoke or making their notes appear a lot faster. If a successful light/heavy attack is performed you get points, the status effects attacks will not earn you points â€“ but rather prevent them from getting points (unless you have mad skills like me).
Attacks are performed by you scrolling through which of the three attacks you want to use (in play) with the A button and if I get the appropriate combo of notes hit (i.e. five notes in arrow) my attack will fire at them. An enemies attack at you can be blocked by pulling B just before it hits your board â€“ during play and while trying to hit your own notes it can be quite difficult to block incoming attacks. Obviously your opponent can launch attacks and block yours also. This can seem quite complex but honestly after five tiny tutorial lessons you are jamming and ready to issue a twatting.
As rhythm-action games go this is a funny little one.
It does not rely on gimmicky plastic instruments and instead relies on the gimmicky Wiimote. The premise is very good with the different style of bands playing songs in their own style. The styles are Rock, Rap, Country, Classical, Marching Band and Mariachi.
Each musical style has a couple of different bands you can choose with bright cartoony graphics. The music in this game has no original recordings, it is very well done. My only gripe as far as the music goes is I had no clue what any of the Latino music was.
Unfortunately this game is let down by the controls, especially the â€œwaggleâ€ and â€œstabâ€ motions you sometimes have to do. This is basically spoils the whole game. Its very annoying when it doesn’t accept the motions you are doing. The general left, right and down movements are fine its just those 2.
At the end of the day its a really good concept let down by a couple of things. The graphics are fine, if nothing spectacular and the music is excellent. If it wasn’t for the screwy controls this game would rate a lot higher.
Secondary Score: 6/10
The only other thing to mention are the face offs. During play at specific times each band gets to play a solo where every note they hit earns them points but each note launches an attack at the enemy and if it lands you get more points, then the enemy do the same thing but you have to hit B to block their attacks â€“ stopping them getting points. All of this can be easily seen by clicking this link (although the person playing is pretty shit).
I will admit that as good as the controls are they are not always well registered when it comes to the later, harder, faster songs. This is not a massive problem because with enough practice they can be overcome.
Along with story mode, you have a vs AI or two-player vs mode which is pretty straight forward like story mode. The only one annoyance is that both players must choose a different style of music to play as.
Where the game shines (aside from the simplistic pick up n play gameplay) is in the musical stylings. As I said five musical styles are available Rock, Latino, Brass Band, Country and Soul/Funk/Hiphop. When you start a stage you will be playing to one of thirty songs (Such as Blitzkriek Bop, Insane in the Brain, Black Betty, danger High Voltage etc) and depending on you and your opponents band the music will be played in two different styles- for example a Rock Band playing against a Country Band can have you playing to Blitzrieg Bop in a bizarre style, switching from rocking punk one second to hillbilly hick country the next â€“ and believe you me some of these mash ups are just beautiful. The game also has a jukebox where you can play any of the 30 songs through your telly and flick between each of the 5 styles at will. The music is just excellent and the game is worth it for this alone. But the feeling to playing to these tunes put massive grins on my face all the time â€“ moreso than just listening to them. I found many, many interesting mash ups like like Kool and the Gang â€“ Jungle Boogie â€“ Metal vs Big Band â€“ aces!
Battle of the Bands is one of those games that although may look quite cheap, may have simplistic gameplay and may not have the greatest single player lifespan its still inexplicably fun to play. For the £12 I have seen this on sale for you cannot miss the chance to buy it. Literally, you have very little to loose and what you will gain is a fun but simplistic rhythm action game with a phenomenal soundrack and some bizarre reworkings of famous songs. This is a non pretentious honest to good fun game to play and you owe it to yourself to give it a shot.