Rock out in, er, Rockopolis.
YouTube has a number of videos featuring young children thrashing away at Guitar Hero and Rock Band. We already know that these kids are going to grow up to become our future Presidents and Space Heroes, but what about kids who need something a little less intense?
- Lots of opportunities to play with friends, you can record your own music
- Has a limited range of licensed songs to play to (and they're all abbreviated), cover vocals aren't so hot
Ultimate Band for the DS is good for aspiring musicians who want to take it easy and jam to their favourite songs without fretting (so to speak) about competition and angry audiences. With the ability to choose between playing lead guitar, rhythm guitar, bass or drums, Ultimate Band provides a relaxed "Everybody Wins" atmosphere that renders it friendly, but a touch boring for experienced digital rockers.
Price$ 59.95 (AUD)
In Ultimate Band DS, you are cast as an up-and-coming rockstar who must prove his (or her) worth to the good citizens of Rockopolis. To do so, you will follow the path of the Guitar Hero, at least to an extent: you play your music at different venues, unlocking new songs at each. The better you play, the more combos and points you rack up. You have more than the guitar at your disposal, however. You can play the lead guitar or bass by plucking indicated strings with the stylus. You can follow along on the rhythm guitar by strumming across marked notes. And finally, you can bash at the drums like an animal by tapping on notes as they fall on the snares.
With its variety of instruments and three difficulty settings (Easy, Medium and Hard), Ultimate Band DS caters to gamers of varying skills, though things don't exactly get intense on a "Through the Fire and Flames" level. There is fun to be had, however, especially on the drums, which is mostly mindless pounding. Playing the guitars is a little more complicated, as you're required to press indicated directions on the control pad in addition to plucking or strumming the strings. Playing rhythm guitar is often frustrating, as the strumming can be inaccurate and you'll miss notes you swore you got.
Ultimate Band DS offers fifteen songs, both classic and new. They're mostly safe, G-rated choices, but nothing too abhorrent. Besides, there is nothing wrong with "Rock Lobster", ever. Unfortunately, it's still a small pool of songs to choose from. Playing "All Star" on the drums is different from playing it on the bass, but you 're still listening to the same songs over and over again in order to unlock more songs, and it gets tiresome. Talking to your audience before and after a show will let you know what you did right and wrong, but for a town that's supposed to be all about rock, Rockopolis is pretty forgiving. If you stink up the venue, the audience will give you hints instead of throwing beer bottles at you.
But Ultimate Band DS isn't strictly a follow-the-bouncing-ball music game. There's a strong emphasis on friends, community and creativity. Players can record and share their own songs, jam along with friends and access Disney's Dgamer online community. There's even a small bit of connectivity with the Wii version of the game, letting players control a "light show" with their DS.
The graphics range from "Ugly" to "Generic" with character models that look like plastic dolls. There are a couple of appreciated details, such as objects that are thrown on stage after a good performance. At a cafe, you'll have roses thrown at you whereas a game-obsessed town will throw quarters.
Ultimate Band DS won't suit anyone looking for a hardcore music experience, even on the DS. Guitar Hero On Tour is a better choice for the experienced, but younger players will appreciate the community aspect in Ultimate Band.
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