Gamers often complain about ‘those bastards that buy Madden every year.’ Well, I have to confess, I am one of those bastards, but instead of Madden, music games are my sweet, sweet digital crack.
Of the thirty-eight boxed Xbox 360 games gracing my living room, nine of them start with “Guitar Hero.” If we add five Rock Band games (no Green Day for me, thank you) two Karaoke Revolution games, and DJ Hero, that brings the total of music-based games in my Xbox 360 library to seventeen.
As I’ve written before, music and videogames are the two great tastes that taste great together. So yeah, when it comes to music games, I am “that guy.”
I was mildly interested in Band Hero when it was initially announced as a “family friendly” version of Guitar Hero, something for parents that weren’t interested in introducing their younglings to the musical stylings of Slayer or Nirvana. While some of the songs on the Band Hero setlist looked like they would be fun to play, there wasn’t enough Good Stuff to justify dropping sixty bucks on the game. I figured I’d wait for the inevitable price drop. Fast-forward about a year later and I find that my Friendly Neighborhood Electronics Store has marked it down all the way to $17.99, so I figured, why not?
Band Hero isn’t quite what it says on the box. It isn’t just “family friendly Guitar Hero.” Don’t get me wrong, it is family friendly, but that phrase only tells part of the story.
Band Hero is Guitar Hero for girls.
Its so sparkly!!
Seriously, there is no better way to put it. Take Guitar Hero 5, coat it in pastel colors, dip it in glitter, drop several scoops of pop music on top and you get Band Hero. There isn’t anything inherently wrong with making a music game for the younger crowd, though. After all, their competitors at Harmonix made Lego Rock Band so that kids can have some fake plastic rock fun, too. But for Pete’s sake, the interface looks like it was designed by Lisa Frank. I haven’t seen that much purple since the 80’s.
Also, Lego Rock Band, at least has some, well, rock with Lego versions of Queen, David Bowie, and Iggy Pop as well as music from those iconic performers. Band Hero has Taylor Swift, Adam Levine and No Doubt. Yeeeah. I’m sorry, but except for maybe No Doubt, those guys don’t exactly bring the house down. Even then, there are some pretty cool classics we haven’t seen in any of these games before like “Mr. Roboto” by Styx, “Black Cat” from Janet Jackson and Marvin Gaye’s “I Heard It Through the Grapevine.”
One feature that I found odd was the ability to perform as your Avatar in the game. The Avatars look just
SECURITY! There's a Muppet on stage!
plain weird on stage next to the other characters, like Muppets. Otherwise, it’s Guitar Hero 5, which was pretty good from a technical standpoint but had awful music. I actually had more fun playing this game than Guitar Hero 5, which says something about how lousy 5’s songs were.
Your decision to purchase the game (or really any music game, for that matter) will depend on how many of its songs you like. A quick dash to Wikipedia will determine whether Band Hero is worth it to you.
If you have kids, or just really like pop music, there are worse games than Band Hero to drop a twenty on. Underneath the sparkly presentation is a pretty good game. Now if you’ll pardon me, I need to play some Gears of War in a feeble attempt to salvage what masculinity I have left.
Rock Band for the Xbox 360 gets a 3 out of 5: G00d
I grade on a 1 to 5 scale. My “review philosophy” can be found here.