Yes, we know. Another one. Incredibly, after three main games (GHIII, World Tour and 5), two band-specific spin-offs (Aerosmith and Metallica), three DS games (the On Tour trilogy) and a Greatest Hits disc, Band Hero marks the tenth Hero game on a Nintendo system in only two years. The immediate question that springs to mind then, is this: after nine games and a total of 464 tracks, does Band Hero - aimed at younger, pop-loving gamers - offer anything new?
Surprisingly, it actually does, in the shape of the Fan Request feature. It's only a minor addition but it's a fun little way of combining the Wii and DS versions of the game. As you play through the Career mode in the Wii version of the game and complete various songs, you'll unlock Fan Requests. You can then wirelessly connect your Wii to your DS (assuming you have copies of Band Hero in both systems), where you then have to perform a task using the DS version of Band Hero. These range from the straightforward to the ridiculous. One asks you to play a song "in the dark", where the notes are just grey on a black background, for example - and every time you complete one you can connect the DS back to the Wii, at which point you'll unlock a hidden item or character for use in the Wii version. It's an enjoyable extra that makes getting both versions of the game worthwhile. Almost.
Battle Of The Bands
If you'd rather not get Band Hero on both the Wii and DS (though the fact the DS version has a completely different list of 30 songs is a nice touch), your handheld wonder can still get in on the action in the Roadie Battle mode, which also carries over from Guitar Hero 5. This is a four-player mode where two players use guitars to play head-to-head on the Wii version, while two others act as roadies and use their DS to try and sabotage each other's musician by cutting strings and messing with the pyrotechnics. It's an addictive multiplayer mode and a great way of using the under-utilised Wii-to-DS connectivity feature. You can also assign the CPU to any of the four players, in case you don't have two guitars and two DSes to hand (and who does?).
The rest of the game is more or less the same idea as Guitar Hero 5, albeit with only 65 songs instead of the 90-odd offered in the more rock-centric game. That said, if ever there was a perfect definition of the phrase 'mixed bag', then Band Hero's setlist would be it. Whether it's songs from Culture Club, Evanescence, Spice Girls, Roy Orbison, N.E.R.D. or Papa Roach, there's quite literally something here for everyone. It does also make us wonder what sort of person will enjoy playing both YMCA by the Village People and Sugar, We're Going Down by Fall Out Boy, but frankly we're just happy to see a fresh tracklist of old and new music that doesn't end with songs that go "GRAAAAW" in the chorus.
Band Hero is the game to get if you're not bothered about rock music. If you prefer Duffy to death metal and Counting Crows to KoRn then this should come as a pleasing alternative to Guitar Hero. For everyone else, shrug your shoulders and keep walking.