Any rhythm game that compiles the likes of Electric Six, Tenacious D, and Tag Team - yes, of "Whoomp! (There It Is)" fame - deserves some serious props, and we gladly send them in the direction of Battle of the Bands. Offering five distinct renditions (rock, country, Latin, hip-hop, and marching band) of each full song further sweetens the pot, but when the most interesting aspect of your game (by a wide margin) is the soundtrack, you might have difficulty keeping players compelled for long.
That's exactly what happened to us while playing Battle of the Bands, an original rhythm-action title from THQ and Planet Moon Studios. In what plays like an odd homage to the battle mode in Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock, the basic gameplay of Battle of the Bands has you controlling one band and busting out Wii Remote movements to unleash attacks on another band, either A.I. or human controlled. Over the course of a performance, the licensed track will swap between the musical styles of each wacky cover band (depending upon which band is ahead), creating a schizophrenic aural experience to go along with the occasionally confusing gameplay/presentation.
Aside from some troubles nailing back-to-back notes on the same side of the beat scroll, the Wii Remote controls function well enough, utilizing basic left, right, and down movements, with the occasional stabbing motion or frantic shake to match the on-screen indicators. But the simple gameplay comes off as bland and monotonous, not to mention tiring. When a game that uses only the Wii Remote has to tell you to take a break after every couple of songs, it's clear that such concerns were not well thought-out in advance.
We were barely halfway through the 30-song Adventure mode when disinterest started to take hold, and even the prospect of a mariachi-tinged version of Def Leppard's "Photograph" couldn't keep our significant others on the couch for the two-player versus mode. The original characters and settings, though colorful and occasionally amusing, border on corny and clichéd, with forgettable text interactions prefacing each battle.
Considering the inspired multi-genre takes on the included hit songs, we can't blame Planet Moon for blowing most of the budget on the soundtrack, but everything else comes off as half-baked. Charm can only go so far in interactive experiences, and in Battle of the Bands, it's not quite far enough.
Apr 28, 2008