We hate to sound all doom and gloom but Maestro is one of those games that you can't help feeling isn't going to sell as well as it could. If that's the case, it'll be a huge shame because it's a truly unique little game.
Maestro stars a young bird by the name of Presto, who has to free the world's notes from the evil Staccato, a spider with a rather fetching array of outfits. To do this Presto has to run through each of the game's 18 songs while the player strums, taps and rubs various objects to the beat of the music.
These objects range from the basic wires Presto runs along that must be strummed as he passes over them for the perfect sound, to enemies that have to be tapped as a circle closes over it (Elite Beat Agents style). On top of all this Presto has to collect items which sound out the main notes to the music as he does.
Wired For Sound
If this all seems a bit daunting, that's because it is. Thankfully the game is paced well, starting you off with just the basic notes and gradually chucking in new objects and gameplay devices as you progress through the levels. Naturally, by the time you get to the end of the game you'll be prepared for anything.
Frustratingly, by the time you do get to the end of the game you may also feel a little short-changed at first since the songs aren't too long. You only get segments of the classical music tracks and the contemporary ones - which range from the Jackson 5's ABC to our personal highlight, the theme from Fame - are only usually a verse and chorus. You'll probably finish your first run-through of the game in about 30 minutes.
Fortunately, you quickly realise that this was just the Easy mode, and that the game's provided clever replay value by not only letting you play through the game again in Normal and Hard modes (the latter of which is mind-bendingly difficult), but letting you play through the whole song as opposed to just a snippet.
Maestro is a game that should appeal to gamers new and old. It's easy enough for newcomers to get to grips with without feeling overwhelmed, while the harder settings (though occasionally annoying when your strum isn't registered) provide a real challenge for experts. Original, heartwarming games like this are music to our ears.