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Ultimate Band Wii Review - -

Gameplay 5.0
Graphics 7.0
Sound 6.0
Value 6.0
Distributor: Funtastic
Jamie Kirk


Ultimate Band

Guitar Hero and Rock Band have become runaway successes, bringing in pot loads of money for their respective developers and bringing casual and hardcore gamers together. The hardcore ones will sit alone practicing ďThrough the Fire and FlamesĒ on expert, while the casual gamers can sit with their mates and enjoy a fun night in. Both the critics and the public are in consensus, so it makes sense that other developers would try and cash in on this lucrative market. Enter Disney Studios Ultimate Band for the Wii. The same ideas are present, become a member in a band and rock out to a wide selection of popular songs, or get some mates together and have a multiplayer band session. The execution is a whole other kettle of fish.

If you hadnít noticed the Disney Studios logo on the box, it still wonít take you very long to realise this game is aimed at children. The rock stars in question are big eyed, cleaned up teenagers with a focus on special moves instead of shredding on the guitar. It also doesnít let you write rude names for your band members or your band name, in case you have a juvenile sense of humour. No, Ultimate Band isnít a Rolling Stone or a Led Zeppelin, it is a Jonas Brothers, squeaky clean the whole way through.

Apart from that the game features are pretty much like Guitar Hero, you can do a quick run through of the songs, take it into multiplayer mode or try out the career mode. Career mode once again plays similarly to Guitar Hero, you take a band of your creation to various rock shows, play your set and progress. While doing so you can use the money you earn to buy various outfit and floppy haircuts to customise your band.

So it all sounds fairly similar to Guitar Hero doesnít it? The game play is where Ultimate Band differentiates itself, and not in a particularly good way. Ultimate Band uses no instrument peripherals, using the Wii remote as a multipurpose instrument.  So instead of pretending to rock out, it feels like pretending to play Guitar Hero. The guitar plays by holding the Wii remote in your right hand to strum and the nun chuck as the neck of the guitar. It doesnít feel as authentic, which means it isnít quite as fun. The Wii remote also has a couple of problems sensing what you are trying to do, which means some of your strums donít come off even if you executed them perfectly. This is a bad problem to have for a rhythm game.

The Drums are played by using the controls as sticks, and are probably the most fun to play, yet still lacking that special something. Bass is similar to guitar except a little more frustrating with its waggle controls that donít always work. The weirdest of the bunch is the front man. As the Wii remote doesnít function as a microphone, the front man doesnít actually sing with your control. Instead you move the controls around to make them do various front man moves, like dance around the stage of clap their hands. It isnít nearly as involving as singing and takes away from the experience, as your front man just kind of moves around the stage like an idiot. It doesnít help that it isnít at all fun to play this way either, so stay away from the front man. One cool touch must be mentioned however, depending on the gender of your singer, the song will change. It is quite amusing to see a male voice come out of woman and vice versa, and it is a neat and sometimes hilarious idea.

The main problem with Ultimate Band is that it just doesnít feel authentic and involving. The song list is quite good, if you like modern rock, yet all the songs are covers. These covers vary in quality from merely ok to quite good. They never quite capture the songs perfectly. Add this to the method of using your Wiimote as an instrument and the experience isnít nearly as satisfying as using an actual Guitar peripheral.

Ultimate Band can still be fun. Itís not horrific to play, and the multiplayer mode can be a laugh. Yet for the cost of the game and four Wiimotes with nun chucks, one could just purchase the full band version of Rock Band or Guitar Hero. It was obviously designed with children in mind, and I imagine that they would like it just fine. That being said, plenty of kids are already playing Guitar Hero anyway, so why pretend to play a better game when you could just go down to the shops and buy that?


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