Hands-on with Rock Band drums for the Wii

I’ve been aggressively pounding on a fake drum kit since Rock Band hit the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 last November. It’s great. I love it. I’m a total freakin’ rock star. Now Wii owners can finally get some of these groupies off my back, when the game hits store shelves at last on June 22.

Our preview kit arrived in the “office” last week, and I’ve been spending some quality time with the Wii port of the game and its peripherals. Today, I’ll take a quick look at the drum kit that will ship with the game’s bundle. Aside from being fancy and white, I noticed a few small changes in the kit’s construction and feel. 

Hit the jump for the sordid details.

Pulling the kit out of its box, I immediately noticed two new parts — thick plastic rods that hold the kit’s feet together at the bottom. The PS3 and Xbox 360 versions of the kit have metal rods, which make horrible clanking noises against one another when tossed into a bag for transport; this is not the case with the Wii version.

The feet themselves and the height-adjustable rods appear to be the same; however, I did notice that everything feels “tighter” when snapped together. Pieces fit together more snugly than in my Xbox 360 kit, and the adjustable rods lock in more tightly as well. I was able to pick up and move the drums from one place to another without everything falling apart, something that can’t be said for my Xbox 360 kit.

I also noticed, almost immediately, that the bass pedal seemed to have less give. Pressing down on it with your hand, it has more resistance, and seems more substantial than my Xbox 360 pedal. When playing the game, it’s less noticeable below your foot, but there’s definitely a difference — the spring under the unit is thicker and has more coils than that found in my Xbox 360 pedal. See below.

Otherwise, the pedals are identical. In fact, the pedal that ships with the Wii kit can be used on the Xbox 360 model, and vice versa. Want your black drum set to have a white pedal? Go to town, but you might want to check in with your shrink if you own multiple versions of Rock Band and you’re not me.

It should be noted that this kit is a standalone control that does not require the Wii Remote. It’s not wireless, and does contain a USB cord. Most annoying is that you still are required to plug in the Wii Remote to simply start the game — there doesn’t appear to be any way to select the game from the Wii menu without doing so. The Rock Band logo that appears in the center of the kit does glow blue, though, which is really damned fancy. 

As far as the feel of this kit when it’s being played, there’s not a huge difference from what I use on the Xbox 360. To the touch, the pads themselves feel like they’re made out of a different material than the Xbox 360’s kit (they feel “stickier,” not as a smooth), but they’re certainly just as loud. 

Tomorrow I’ll bring you some impressions and images of the Fender guitar peripheral, which — surprise! — is kind of like the Fender guitar peripherals that shipped with Rock Band on other consoles. 

Nick Chester