Ultimate Band is Disney Interactive's answer to those people who want to have the music band game experience without the need for all of those expensive, room-filling peripherals that are required for titles like Rock Band and Guitar Hero World Tour.
This band game light is both peripheral and original music free, using only cover bands so the developers would be allowed to tweak the music to better fit the game. Those tweaks include the ability to have the lead singer be either a man or a woman, no matter who originally sang it.
The Disney folks told me that they did a number of focus tests during their development of the game. In them they asked potential gamers which of nine versions of the game they would want to play. The options ranged from a peripheral-heavy version of the game with original music, to the game they ended up producing. All of the tests showed, they told me, that gamers wanted a game that didn't require peripherals.
To play Ultimate Band gamers use the remote and nunchuk to strum, drum and flick their way through songs on a bass or lead guitar or drums.
To play lead guitar a player strums with the remote to the beat, matching the on screen timing, while holding different buttons or no buttons on the nunchuk. Depending on difficulty settings, you can guitar with just rhythm strumming or with as many as four virtual frets. The frets are triggered by holding the C, the Z, the C and the Z buttons or no buttons.
Bass is played by flicking the nunchuk and strumming while drums are played by drumming straight down with both controllers for standard drums, to the side for cymbals and then twirling the controllers in the air to mimic grandstanding.
A fourth option for playing, called frontman, consisted of dancing with the controllers. Because the game is peripheral free there is no way to sing in the game.
It may sound like the recipe for a douche simulator, but I actually found the game quite a bit of fun. The biggest problem I saw was that it was far to easy for even the most novice of Guitar Hero or Rock Band players.
I play guitar on medium usually (yes, I suck) but even on the expert setting in Ultimate Band I was able to score above 80 percent.
Hopefully this is something that can be tweaked, though it may be they'll be satisfied trying to drawn in younger, less dexterous gamers instead.
ULTIMATE BAND FACT SHEET
Publisher: Disney Interactive Studios
Developer: Fall Line Studio
ESRB Rating: E10+ (anticipated)
Audience: Tweens, teens and music fans
Coming Holiday 2008 for Wii™ home video game console
It's no secret that the music video game genre has exploded in recent years. While the attention of this genre has focused mainly on creating music simulation games for an older demographic, Disney Interactive Studios has been developing a performance-based music video game that will appeal to tweens, teens and families alike. With songs that represent new favorites and old classics, truly interactive venues, and innovative controls using only the Wii Remote™ and Nunchuk™ (no peripherals), Ultimate Band for Wii will round-out any family's entertainment library: right music, right console, right price.
Why Disney Interactive Studios?
Video games rated E through T represent an $11 billion market and no one knows the audience for those games better than Disney Interactive Studios, especially when it comes to developing third party titles for Nintendo platforms. From January to November 2007, Disney Interactive Studios was the No. 2 publisher of Nintendo DS™ games in North America according to NPD. Also in 2007, the company sold 3.4 million units of Nintendo DS video games in the United States alone (source: NPD Data). Fall Line Studio, which is developing Ultimate Band, is Disney Interactive Studios' Nintendo-dedicated entity, focusing exclusively on developing games for Wii and Nintendo DS™. Fall Line Studio co-developed last year's Hannah Montana: Music Jam video game that introduced new music mechanics to Nintendo DS titles through its unique "Creative Play Mode" where players could compose original songs using four different instruments. It also helped solidify Disney Interactive Studios' position as a leader in creating music video games for tweens and families.
· In Ultimate Band, there are four band roles that players can take on – drums, lead guitar, bass guitar and a band front man - all with unique motion mechanics using the Wii Remote and Nunchuk.
· Players can either follow a unique narrative story mode or stand up and jam to any songs and venues they've already unlocked.
· Ultimate Band offers group and family entertainment through multi-player modes that include head-to-head competition or cooperative play.
· 30+ songs made famous by artists such as The White Stripes, The Who, The Jonas Brothers, Weezer and more.
· All of the songs are re-mastered so they are performed in the gender of the front man and lyrics are age-appropriate.
· Players can customize their bands by creating characters that look just like them, or by selecting from different character genres.
· Imaginative and real-life venues, such as a haunted mansion or a garage, come to life during gameplay and react to how well fans perform.