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Band Hero

Band Hero

Written by Dave Gamble on 11/24/2009 for Wii  
More On: Band Hero
There's yet another Guitar Hero game now? Are you kidding?? These things seem to come out more often than Prom Night zits. Didn't I just buy one chock full o' Beatles songs? What? That was Rock Band? Seriously, how is an old guy like me supposed to keep up with all of this??

Well, believe it or not, Activision has cranked out another Guitar Hero game. I think they're soon going to be giving the Madden franchise a run for their money as the most updated video game ever. While Madden gets new players every season, the Guitar Hero games get more songs. And while Madden adds refinements, enhancements, and improvements to the game play with each release, well, so does Guitar Hero.

In the case of the newest release, Band Hero, the refinements are easy for me to see as I have skipped the last few releases. The interesting thing about the core game play of Band Hero is that it seems as if the developers were able to hear my beefs with the earlier version that I have. For example, playing a set with my daughter always bred two arguments: who gets to play guitar (or, said another way, who gets demoted to bass) and exactly which of us bollocks up the song so badly. And, of course, I had always longed for the ability to create and save play lists. Absent the saving of play lists, all of that is available in Band Hero (and quite likely, older versions as well. How would I know?). With Band Hero, not only can my daughter and I both play the guitar and resolve any arguments concerning who missed the most notes at the end of each song, we could invite two other players to join us. Well, if we had two more guitars, anyway.

Also, having recognized that these games are often played at parties (and really, you haven't lived until you've heard Chuck singing 'Call Me'), it is now possible to allow new players to jump in (and presumably drop back out again) during a song. It is also possible to set the game style to allow the rest of the players to keep playing even if one of the other players is a complete beginner and can't hit a single note. And, from the very moment you slide the disk into the console, all songs are unlocked and available in the Quickplay list. I applaud this style of game play in all genres of video gaming. Nothing irritates me more than having to endure a long, drawn-out campaign/career mode in order to unlock content that I've already bought. There's a strong libertarian gamer streak in me; less structure and fewer mandates are always going to win my favor.

The second half of any new Guitar Hero game has to be the song list. All of that great game play would be wasted on a game with a song list limited to Ukranian folk songs unless, of course, you are one of the very few people on the planet that are thrilled with playing only Ukranian folk songs. Sure, they're OK now and then, but they wear thin after awhile. No, what you really want for a party game is a wide, varied, eclectic range of songs. You want everyone at the party to be able to scan the song list and say at least once, "Hey, I know that song! And I wouldn't even mind hearing Chuck sing it."

In the case of Band Hero that song is, of course, "YMCA" by the Village People. It's practically his personal anthem. He owns that song.

There are even songs that an oldster like me recognizes from groups like Cheap Trick, The Rolling Stones, Pat Benatar, Duran Duran, and Taylor Swift. Well, I only recognized Ms. Swift because I saw a NASCAR race once. Oh, and that little incident that caused me to drop my founding charter membership in the Kanye West fan club. Anyway, it's a varied mix and it's sure to ring a bell (so to speak) with just about everyone at your party. Interestingly, there is apparently the ability for your party guests to select songs to add to your play list from a Nintendo DS communicating with your Wii via WiFi. Your reviewer was unable to verify feature this because his daughter loaned her DS to a friend. It sounds neat, though.

At the $60 asking price, if you figure you're going to hate five of the songs it comes out to a buck a song, So, just about what it would cost to download from iTunes. And what if you find that you hate 20 of the songs? Well, just figure that it was worth $15 for the new game play and you're still coming out ahead.
Band Hero loosens the reins on the game play to make the game more crowd friendly. The anything goes style carries over into the song list where everyone you know is bound to find at least one song they have heard and/or like.

Rating: 8.9 Class Leading

* The product in this article was sent to us by the developer/company.

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About Author

I've been fascinated with video games and computers for as long as I can remember. It was always a treat to get dragged to the mall with my parents because I'd get to play for a few minutes on the Atari 2600. I partially blame Asteroids, the crack cocaine of arcade games, for my low GPA in college which eventually led me to temporarily ditch academics and join the USAF to "see the world." The rest of the blame goes to my passion for all things aviation, and the opportunity to work on work on the truly awesome SR-71 Blackbird sealed the deal.

My first computer was a TRS-80 Model 1 that I bought in 1977 when they first came out. At that time you had to order them through a Radio Shack store - Tandy didn't think they'd sell enough to justify stocking them in the retail stores. My favorite game then was the SubLogic Flight Simulator, which was the great Grandaddy of the Microsoft flight sims.

While I was in the military, I bought a Commodore 64. From there I moved on up through the PC line, always buying just enough machine to support the latest version of the flight sims. I never really paid much attention to consoles until the Dreamcast came out. I now have an Xbox for my console games, and a 1ghz Celeron with a GeForce4 for graphics. Being married and having a very expensive toy (my airplane) means I don't get to spend a lot of money on the lastest/greatest PC and console hardware.

My interests these days are primarily auto racing and flying sims on the PC. I'm too old and slow to do well at the FPS twitchers or fighting games, but I do enjoy online Rainbow 6 or the like now and then, although I had to give up Americas Army due to my complete inability to discern friend from foe. I have the Xbox mostly to play games with my daughter and for the sports games.
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