Band Hero

It’s too easy to unleash the inner cynic while grappling with the concept of Band Hero. The name is bad enough – an amalgamation of Neversoft’s Guitar Hero franchise and Harmonix’s edgier Rock Band, it smacks of a desperate attempt at brand recognition, or, to put it another way, blatant cash-in. Its tracklist, too, lacks the eccentricities of its Guitar Hero forbears, streamlined into the sort of pop-centric candyfloss you’d find on a ‘Now That’s What I Call Music’ compilation. Could it be that Guitar Hero has lost its guts?

The answer is, yes, probably. However, that in no way negates Band Hero’s power as a great social experience; it can still get the party started, albeit a younger, wide-eyed party. Whereas the first four Guitar Heroes had a decidedly cool and grungy edge (my verdict is out on the fifth) and focused primarily on satisfying guitar licks, the Band Hero tracklist is utterly without irony. There are three Taylor Swift songs, a Hilary Duff, and some decidedly dorky ‘classic’ throwbacks such as the Village People’s ‘YMCA’ and The Mighty Mighty Bosstones’ ’The Impression That I Get’. That nagging inner cynic could perhaps be placated if this was re-packaged as ‘Guitar Hero: Guilty Pleasures’.

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That said, the guitar is just another part of the band now. There is no satisfaction to be gleaned from jamming along to the Spice Girl’s ‘Wannabe’, yet belting it out on the mic is wonderful. The drums get their turn in the sun in songs like Joan Jett’s overexposed ‘Bad Reputation’ and emo-King Dashboard Confessional’s ‘Hands Down’, although these too are better enjoyed with a hearty set of lungs. The recognizable pop will almost certainly repel the hardcore crowd, yet it will entice those who are yet to pick up a plastic guitar, or those whose music-game experience has been limited to Sony’s Singstar franchise.

Indeed, Neversoft have made a risky tactical decision by distancing Band Hero from the Guitar Hero moniker. For Guitar Hero vets, there’s almost nothing new here. Band Hero is vehemently modeled on the finely tuned structure of Guitar Hero 5, with the same in-game interface, career and multiplayer modes, and additional frills including the drop-in/drop-out mode and Xbox 360 avatar import feature.

Approaching it as someone who owns and regularly plays Guitar Hero: World Tour, this feels more like a pop track-pack than a re-invigoration. Neversoft have (generously?) included the option to import and export songs from other Guitar Hero titles, although these are still not rounded out to complete tracklists. Band Hero also suffers from a smaller tracklist than we’re used to, at 65 songs, it’s a cautious entry; Guitar Hero 5 had 85.

It’s my duty to note that Neversoft have redesigned the Band Hero drum kit for those who are yet to clutter up their living room, with sturdier cymbals and a foot pedal that can be attached to the base. Practical, but unless you have ambitions to be the virtual-drummer equivalent of Neil Peart, not worth an overhaul.

Ultimately, this all adds up to a disappointment for the vets. Band Hero, simply, is not for them. It is an introductory title, a gateway drug for those who are yet to experience the near-saturated market of music games. Band Hero is a title for the pop-star wannabes, the avid Idol viewers, families who sit down together and watch the MTV video awards and shake their heads at Kanye West’s abhorrent behaviour. It’s light, breezy fun, and kudos to Neversoft for ignoring their inner cynics. They’re going to make a lot of money out of this game.


3 Doors Down - When I’m Gone
The Airborne Toxic Event - Gasoline
The All-American Rejects - Dirty Little Secret
Alphabeat - Fascination
Aly & AJ - Like Whoa
Angels & Airwaves - The Adventure
Ben Harper and the Innocent Criminals - Steal My Kisses
Big Country - In A Big Country
The Bravery - Believe
Carl Douglas - Kung Fu Fighting
Cheap Trick - I Want You To Want Me (Live)
Cold War Kids - Hang Me Up To Dry
Corinne Bailey Rae - Put Your Records On
Counting Crows - Angels Of The Silences
Culture Club - Do You Really Want to Hurt Me?
Dashboard Confessional - Hands Down
David Bowie - Let’s Dance
Devo - Whip It
Don McLean - American Pie
Duffy - Warwick Avenue
Duran Duran - Rio
Evanescence - Bring Me To Life
Everclear - Santa Monica
Fall Out Boy - Sugar, We’re Going Down
Filter - Take A Picture
Finger Eleven - Paralyzer
The Go-Go’s - Our Lips Are Sealed
Hilary Duff - So Yesterday
Hinder - Lips of An Angel
Jackson 5 - ABC
Janet Jackson - Black Cat
Jesse McCartney - Beautiful Soul
Joan Jett - Bad Reputation
Joss Stone - You Had Me
Katrina And The Waves - Walking On Sunshine
The Kooks - Naive
KT Tunstall - Black Horse & The Cherry Tree
The Last Goodnight - Pictures Of You
Lily Allen - Take What You Take
Maroon 5 - She Will Be Loved
Marvin Gaye - I Heard It Through The Grapevine
The Mighty Mighty Bosstones - Impression That I Get
N.E.R.D. - Rockstar
Nelly Furtado - Turn Off The Light
No Doubt - Don’t Speak
No Doubt - Just A Girl
OK Go - A Million Ways
Papa Roach - Lifeline
Parachute - Back Again
Pat Benetar - Love is A Battlefield
Poison - Every Rose Has It Thorns
Robbie Williams & Kylie Minogue - Kids
The Rolling Stones - Honky Tonk Woman
Roy Orbison - Oh, Pretty Woman
Santigold - L.E.S. Aristes
Snow Patrol - Take Back The City
Spice Girls - Wannabe
Styx - Mr. Roboto
Taylor Swift - Picture To Burn
Taylor Swift - Love Story
Taylor Swift - You Belong With Me
Tonic - If You Could Only See
The Turtles - Happy Together
Village People - YMCA
Yellowcard - Ocean Avenue

"Great for newbies, nothing new for veterans."
- Band Hero
Follow Own it? Rating: G   Difficulty: Easy   Learning Curve: 15 Min


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Comments Comments (8)

Posted by icequeen
On Tuesday 8 Dec 2009 10:32 AM
this could b interesting. sort of combination idea borderline kareoke in full form
Posted by emetic
On Tuesday 8 Dec 2009 10:40 AM
Mr Roboto
Posted by Soyerz
On Tuesday 8 Dec 2009 11:05 AM
The track list hurts my eyes.
Posted by Koopa18
On Tuesday 8 Dec 2009 1:30 PM
I was about to say something really witty, but it turns out Soyerz pretty much said exactly what I was going to say, with a bit less zing.

Damn you.
Posted by Oliver
On Tuesday 8 Dec 2009 1:56 PM
There are about two songs on that track-list that I would feel comfortable listening to in everyday life.
Posted by SpawnSeekSlay
On Tuesday 8 Dec 2009 6:51 PM
God im over the whole band thing..
Posted by Sp3kt0r
On Tuesday 8 Dec 2009 9:26 PM
No Miley Cyrus or Demi Lovato? You FAIL tracklist. YOU FAIL.
Posted by PacDude
On Wednesday 9 Dec 2009 9:38 AM
Then the'll have "hip hop hero" with auto tuned mic's ( yeeah so everyone wins) and guitar hero will be left in the dust
(sighs,)) we had a good run