-- It's no surprise with the astronomical success of Guitar Hero and Rock Band, more developers are eager to enter the music business. THQ is the latest with the Wii's Battle of the Bands, an unique rhythm game best enjoyed in small doses.
While Battle of the Bands borrows elements of Guitar Hero, the game is more reminiscent of Electronic Arts' Boogie. Using the Wii remote, players time quick movements with a song's melody to achieve the highest score possible.
The notes travel down a vertical track, exactly like GH. Players can flick the remote left, right or down to match up with the appropriate note. Some require you to utilize a stabbing motion to complete.
The imaginative twist is the ability to toss attacks at competing bands as you play. Once you play a select number of notes in a row, you'll hurl an attack. To the right of tracks are each attack and a number representing the number of notes you must play consecutively to use it. The special moves range from lightning strikes to shrinking notes.
In addition, players can block oncoming strikes using the trigger. This becomes essential when you learn attacks rack up far more points when successful. Timing blocks as you hit notes requires a bit of practice, but it's not tough.
Motion controls work pretty well. There were some responsiveness issues, especially when having to quickly go side to side or playing back-to-back notes on the same side.
When starting, you'll choose between 11 bands in five musical genres: Rock, Country, Hip-Hop, Marching Band and Ranchero. Each of the 30 licensed songs have been redone in each genre, which paves the way for interesting combinations. For example, I heard a version of a LL Cool J's Mama Said Knock You Out performed by the marching band. As you duel, the song will flip back and forth between genres.
While Bands was entertaining, it just didn't strike the same chord as other top-notch rhythm games. The tunes were varied and fun, especially when reaching outside their genres. The visuals, however, were subpar. Attacks are accompanied by underwhelming explosions and effects. Since the band sits atop the screen in a small space, it's often difficult to distinguish any character details.
Also, it's hard to enjoy the game unless you're playing in short spurts. For the first half-hour or so, the game is fun. But the repetitive cycle of movements grows stale quickly. Versus mode is ideal for group scenarios. Adventure Mode is a short, simple single-player variation.
Battle of the Bands puts on a decent show with some innovative concepts but you probably won't demand an encore.