Reviews March 17, 2010

Battle of the Bands

Kenneth Seward Jr

post main image

Battle of the Bands
Reviewed by: Kenneth Seward Jr.
System: Wii
Genre: Music
Rated: T
Players: 1-2
Cost: $49.99
Release Date: 4/21/2008
Publisher: THQ
Developer: Planet Moon Studios


When I first heard about Battle of the Bands, I was ecstatic. The concept for THQ’s latest title was one of the best ideas presented on the Wii thus far (besides anything involving Mario). You get to chose from different types of bands and battle each other in arenas around the globe. What’s cool is that the song you are using to battle, changes depending on which band is currently in the spotlight (getting the most attention). For instance, if you’re in a country band and the song choice is from the rock genre, when you’re in the spotlight you’ll play the rock song as if it was a country genre. Genius! Well, at least that’s what I thought at first.

Planet Moon Studio’s unique concept is the only reason I am currently playing BOTB. It seems that something went wrong in the development, causing this title to suffer from some serious problems. I will start with the bands themselves. You are given the choice of eleven bands total, each representing a different genre of music. There are three hip hop bands, one marching band, two Latin bands, three rock bands and two country bands. Each band has its own personality, stretching from their clothes all the way to their instruments. The problem comes in when you actually start battling one another. After about three songs, you’ll start to notice that the bands in a particular genre, despite being different, all sound the same. Take the hip hop/funk bands. The Mac Millions like to sport fur coats and flashy jewelry (clearly all about money). They resemble rappers from the 80’s with their big chains and kango hats. Then there is Defcon X. These guys are more grimy then the last group. Wearing their pants below their waists and donning high tech gear, they defiantly represent a different time in hip hop. However, during the battles both bands sound exactly the same. All the work put into their personalities was a waste if nothing changes in their music. The only band that was different all the time was the marching band (because they were the only ones of their kind in the game).

battle-of-the-bands

Another snapped guitar string would have to come from the songs you’re battling over. The song selection is fine; ranging from Brick House to Adios Mexico. The problem comes in when the song swings back and forth between genres. Let’s say you have a band of three guys: one drummer, one guitarist and one rapper. The song you were given to play happens to be a classic country song sung by a woman. Well, when your band is in the spotlight, instead of hearing a rapper rap the words, you’ll hear a woman singing. What the…?!
It didn’t matter what instruments your band members played or what sex they were. To be fair, this didn’t happen all the time. It did happen enough for me to complain though. I guess when they were recording the different versions of each song; they didn’t take into account that each band had different members than the others in their genre. Meaning, that one rock version of each song wouldn’t suffice if each rock band were different (at least in looks). A band consisting of a three devils should sound a little different from the band full of insane asylum escapees!

Last on the list is the gameplay. Thankfully (and sadly), Battle of the Bands doesn’t require instruments to play. Everything is controlled by the Wii-mote. During gamplay, you’re given a board with scrolling symbols (similar to Guitar Hero) representing different directions. Swinging the Wii-mote in the corresponding directions on time with the beat plays out the song. Simple enough. You also use the Wii-mote for launching attacks. Each band is given three different sets of weapons to choose from before the start of a match. The first set consists of weak weapons used to smack up your opponent, switching the spotlight over to you. The same thing goes for the stronger second set of weapons. The difference between weapons (other than how many beats it takes to launch them) is the damage they do to your opponent. The stronger weapons do more damage, causing the spotlight to switch sooner. The last set is for special weapons. These weapons usually cause trouble for your opponents by affecting their ability to perform. One special causes their notes to become attacks, meaning that each time they hit a note it hits them (which gives you points and control of the spotlight). Another special blocks you opponent’s scroll board with smoke, making it hard for them to play the correct notes.

battle-of-the-bands2

Just because you can launch attacks doesn’t mean that they will land. Pressing B on the Wii remote allows you to throw up a temporary shield used to deflect incoming attacks. This makes it harder for the rival bands to steal the spotlight from you. This mechanic of blocking attacks really comes in handy during the head to head sections that pop up in each match. This is when the game makes one band play the song while the other watches. The band that is playing has all their notes turned into skulls, which when played correctly, launches attacks to the other band. Each attack gives extra points to the playing band. The band that’s not playing has to block as many attacks as possible. After a few notes, the bands switch roles giving both the opportunity to score extra points.

battle-of-the-bands3

While this all sounds cool, winning the match usually comes down to the person who’s landing the most notes. The weapons don’t impact gameplay enough to really change the outcome. Don’t get me wrong; this is a good thing seeing as how BOTB is about music and not about combat. However, this is a bad thing because the music aspect of the game isn’t fully realized. The game needs weapons/attacks to stand out but then again, the weapons/attacks don’t change the outcome of matches (most of the time). What’s worse is that the cool character models are just that, models. They don’t add anything to their genre of music let alone the gameplay. If that’s the case, we should be able to make our own band avatars. At least then, there would be a reason for each band sounding alike. Even with all that’s wrong with this game, it can still be pretty fun. The music swapping is defiantly the best thing BOTB has going for it. I mean, when I heard the country version of Whomp There It Is, I couldn’t stop laughing!  

Gameplay: 5
The concept is great. The gameplay is not.

Graphics: 7
The characters can be cool looking at times (that’s about it).

Sound: 8
The music selection is great. I just wish there was more thought put into the sound of the different bands.

What’s New: 10
The music swapping almost makes this a must buy (almost)!

Replay Value: 5
This depends on how much you like the music. Rock band this isn’t.

Final Score:

7