UPDATE (3/22/10) VFH Classic is dead, review below:
Battle of the Bands is an interesting twist on the music genre, where the main focus is attacking your opponent and winning over the audience with your own take on famous songs.
The game is not played with a guitar or any other peripheral, but instead simply with the Wii Remote. There are a total of five moves that you can perform to match the on-screen queues, which include shaking the wiimote to the right, shaking it to the left, shaking it downwards, making a stabbing motion towards the screen, and waggling the wiimote quickly side to side. These moves require no button presses, but merely movement of the wiimote.
Like I said, one of the main focuses of the game is to attack your opponent, and also for that matter block incoming attacks. You have three categories of attacks, each with three difficult attacks. Before you start each song, you select one attack from each category. During gameplay, you can select which attack you are going to use by either pressing the A button to skip down one by one, or using the D-pad to select one. Each attack requires you to power it up by hitting a certain amount of notes in a row. Once that is done, the next note will be that attack, and if you hit it, your attack is sent to the opponent. However, you can block incoming attacks by simply pressing the B button. Pressing the B button will set up a shield for a split second, so timing is key.
Here, you can see a lightning bolt on one of the notes on the left. If you hit that note, you'll send a lightning attack on your opponent. Your weapons are the three in the left-middle, while the other three are your opponents. The number is the number of notes you have to hit before you can use that attack. If you miss a note, the counter restarts. Also, it takes a little time for the attack to refresh once used.
Luckily, there is an easy to use tutorial where you can learn all about these things. The tutorial is simple and doesn’t take that much time to get through the whole thing, so it’s probably worth your time to check it out.
Another key feature of the game is the fact that you can choose your band, from 11 different groups, each of which has a unique sound, from 5 different genres, including hip hop, rock, country, Latin, and marching band. Whenever you are doing well, your band will be heard, so they give each song a different flavor. It is your goal to be heard the most and achieve the most points. At the end of the song, the band with the most points wins. The fact that the songs are played by different genres is interesting, and the main draw of the game, however, it would have been nice to have the actual band play them or at least have the option to listen to it. There is however, a sound room where you can listen to any of the 30 songs in any genre you wish, switching whenever you like.
This is a little mini-game type thing that happens once or twice during each song. One player will get to hit the notes which sends the green skulls across the screen toward your opponent, while the other player tries to block those skulls with his or her barrier.
The songs are pretty decent, ranging from Feel Good Inc. by the Gorillaz and Miss Murder by AFI to Blitzkrieg Bop by the Ramones and Brick House by The Commodores. In the main mode, you go from venue to venue battling a single band in a single song. There are a variety of tiers like Guitar Hero, in which you have to beat every song in the tier to continue on to the next. In Versus mode, you simply choose a song and play.
There are three different difficulties to choose from; easy, medium, and hard; and increasing the difficulty obviously makes the notes appear in greater numbers and more rapidly. You get points based on the timing in which you hit the notes and if your attacks hit. The final stats mention how long your band played, as opposed to the other band, the number of notes you hit, and your greatest combo, but I don’t think that these factor into your score.
Here, you can see that waggle move, which comes in two forms; the small one shown, and a larger one that takes up the entire width of the note bar. The smaller one requires you to shake the wiimote a little bit, while the larger one requires more power.
Battle of the Bands is a decent game, that doesn’t require you to buy an expensive guitar peripheral, but in this day and age, 30 songs in a par music game isn’t going to cut it. While the game is relatively fun and rhythmic with a good variety of songs, the experience is over too soon and the appeal doesn’t last for that long. The added attacks and the ability to block them make things a bit more interesting, but it isn’t enough to keep players interested when there are much better games to play, such as Guitar Hero and Rock Band, which are worth the investment as they are simply more capable and better experiences.