Overall, this setup works okay, if not great (though we’d prefer the note grid to be horizontal, with the buttons on the screen’s right edge. It would give us less real estate to jump around and keep our hand from blocking the view). The biggest problem is that it feels nothing like playing a guitar. This could be a puzzle game.
Drums are another story. The basic setup is the same: band on top screen, notes scrolling vertically down the bottom screen. But you aren’t limited to the stylus for control. The R button and all four face buttons trigger the kick drum, as does touching a picture of the kick drum onscreen. Similarly, the L button, all four directions on the d-pad and the picture of a snare drum all make a snare sound. And hitting both the snare and kick together in any combination splashes the cymbal, as does tapping its picture.
This works beautifully (and will remind PS2 owners of Frequency and Amplitude, early games from the company that developed Rock Band). The problem? There really are only two drums and a cymbal. We’d have loved a little more complexity. There are so many duplicated buttons – couldn’t one or two of them have been mapped to a tom?
The songs themselves are all covers (original versions are more expensive to license), and you’ll need to plow through story mode to unlock most of them. But the bigger problem is that there aren’t very many. Unless there are some hidden that we’ve missed, here’s the whole set list:
In the Shadows
Walk Idiot Walk
If Everyone Cared
Message in a Bottle
Smoke on the Water
You Really Got Me
What's My Age Again
Rock You Like a Hurricane
The Great Escape
That’s 15 tunes. For comparison, the latest Guitar Hero on DS has 28. Ouch.
There’s also a two-player co-op wireless mode, though the fact that both players need the game make it seem unlikely you’ll use it much. Overall, this isn’t a bad game, but it really does feel like the other half is out there somewhere waiting to be found. If it were $15 or $20, we’d say give it a shot. But at press time, it’s $30, only ten dollars cheaper than the latest Guitar Hero game on DS. That doesn’t cost it any points in our numerical score (because prices can change), but it means we simply can’t recommend it at all.
Nov 25, 2008