Ultimate Band review

Does Guitar Hero know Disney just released a better portable music game?

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There are only three difficulty levels, but it’s really two. Easy’s a cake walk, so we spent most of our time stuck on normal because hard should be renamed “brutal punishment that may actually crack your stylus”. But then we noticed there are bonus notes that appear as faint circles in between the required notes. You can hit them to add points, but there’s no penalty for missing them. It’s a clever touch, and bridges the difficulties nicely. We do wish they were easier to see, though. Especially on drums, you might not even notice them.

The songs themselves are a pleasingly non-bubblegum mix that includes bands like The Who, Blondie, The Raconteurs, Fall Out Boy, Devo, and … The Jonas Brothers? Okay Disney, we’ll let you slide on that one. We actually prefer this to Smashmouth’s colossally overplayed “All Star”, which we never want to hear again ever. But even with a tolerable song list, the music is still a letdown. The songs are cover versions rather than the real thing, they’ve been shortened to only a couple minutes each, and there are only 15 of them. You’ll be replaying all of these tunes a lot.

Or, you could just spend your time in the surprisingly ambitious recording studio. Here, you choose a primary rhythm track and the instrument sounds you want (rock, metal, country, etc), then lay down extra drums and parts for all three guitars, using the d-pad to select the chord families you play and with every string making a different sound.

If it sounds complex, just understand this: It makes it surprisingly easy for you to make decent sounding tunes, and it’ll store up to 12 of them. You can even join up over Wi-Fi and record yourself and three other players jamming together, or connect to the vastly inferior Wii version of the game and use your DS to run a light show. Guitar Hero, are you paying attention?

Dec 9, 2009

More info

DescriptionWhile the DS version of Disney’s rocktacular music game has a weak song list and strong controls, the Wii version flips the script with more songs and broken controls. It’s not remotely as good.  
US censor rating"Everyone 10+","Everyone 10+"
UK censor rating"",""
Release date1 January 1970 (US), 1 January 1970 (UK)
Eric Bratcher
I was the founding Executive Editor/Editor in Chief here at GR, charged with making sure we published great stories every day without burning down the building or getting sued. Which isn't nearly as easy as you might imagine. I don't work for GR any longer, but I still come here - why wouldn't I? It's awesome. I'm a fairly average person who has nursed an above average love of video games since I first played Pong just over 30 years ago. I entered the games journalism world as a freelancer and have since been on staff at the magazines Next Generation and PSM before coming over to GamesRadar. Outside of gaming, I also love music (especially classic metal and hard rock), my lovely wife, my pet pig Bacon, Japanese monster movies, and my dented, now dearly departed '89 Ranger pickup truck. I pray sincerely. I cheer for the Bears, Bulls, and White Sox. And behind Tyler Nagata, I am probably the GR staffer least likely to get arrested... again.