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Ten Minute Taste: Band Hero

10:20 AM on 11.04.2009 // Nick Chester

Based on most of the reader comments to previous Band Hero stories, I already have a good idea of what you guys think of this game. 

You don't know why it exists or how it's different than Guitar Hero 5, and all of this top-40 popular music is crap. You don't understand why the songs couldn't have just been released as downloadable content for Guitar Hero 5; even if they were, you wouldn't buy them anyhow because, like you said, they're crap. It's also really pink, and pink is stupid, and so is Maroon 5 who are like, the worst band ever. I mean, those no-talent hacks can barely play their instruments to perform the stupid songs they probably don't even write themselves. 

The first ten minutes of Band Hero, as seen above, probably won't change your mind. In fact, it's likely you'll get even more worked up after seeing the game's American Idol-inspired intro and menu. Like, OMG, what have they done to Guitar Hero, guys!? Here's the thing -- Band Hero is probably not a game for you, obviously aimed at audiences more interested in celebrity name dropping, catchy hooks, and flashy laser-light shows than guitar heroics or clever song compositions.

This is probably the reason why Activision didn't send us a copy of the game prior to its release. Instead, I went to my local GameStop and picked it up with my own cash, out of pocket. Why? Because I totally wanted it.

But all of that doesn't make Band Hero a bad game. In fact, the answer to "how is this different than Guitar Hero 5?" is that Band Hero is, in most ways, exactly like Guitar Hero 5. (You want more details, read my Guitar Hero 5 review and tack on "treasure hunt" achievements/trophies and a karaoke mode.)

The ways that it's different, however, are significant enough that I think Band Hero does exactly what it sets out to do -- appeal to a different audience, one that may not be included to pick up a guitar to play along to Megadeth's "Sweating Bullets" or belt out the lyrics to Rammstein's "Du Hast." Instead, Guitar Hero 5 has been given a completely makeover, and yes, that includes a lot of pink, purple, and light blue. Even the game's muscian models have been slightly restyled -- meat-headed Guitar Hero rocker Axel Steel has been given a hair cut, his long stringy hair replaced by a more styled, short hairdo. 

In terms of presentation and approachability, the game's a success for the audience that it's been intended for (read: teenage girls and those people who say "I listen to a little bit of everything!" when they actually mean "whatever's on the radio" in the car.). While many of the game's songs are silly fun but don't necessarily translate to a "band" experience (The Spice Girl's "Wannabe," for example), not all of the songs are simple throwaway nonsense. In fact, many of them (most of them, in fact) are pretty damn fun if you can manage to let your "pop music is evil" guard down. The funky bass line for Janet Jackson's "Black Cat" comes to mind, especially coupled with Neversoft's great "open note" strum mechanic for bass guitar.

Really though, there's no point in trying to convince you to like or want to play Band Hero. If saying that Styx's "Mr. Roboto" is playable wasn't enough to get you to at least want to try it out, I don't know what will. But I'm having a good bit of fun playing through the game's career mode, coming across a number of guilty pleasure top-40s radio hits that I simply can't help but sing along to.

If that makes me a bad person, well, I'll just be over here in the corner singing along to Culture Club's "Do You Really Want To Hurt Me." 

[Note: The guitar playing in the video is by no means supposed to be an example of extraordinary Guitar Hero playing; yes, I miss some notes. If you're looking for someone to FC "Happy Together," I'm sure you can find it on YouTube.]

Nick Chester, Former Editor-in-Chief (2011)
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