Review by FFandMMfan

"This is the only music shop in town open at midnight."

If you were to ask most American gamers what was the first great DS game, most of them would reply with Meteos, Kirby: Canvas Curse, or Mario Kart DS. But across the sea in Japan, they had the stellar title known as Daigasso! Band Brothers to launch alongside the DS, that blew every other launch title clear out of the water.

Sound Communication System Daigasso! Band Brothers (its full name) took Japan by storm (or, I'd like to hope so at least) being the first rhythm game for DS, and being one of the "Must-have" titles of the launch. America still hasn't seen any information about a localization except for the working title Jam With the Band, and that was mentioned ages ago. If you want this game, you'd be better off importing than waiting. But why buy it? Read on and find out about "The only music shop in town open at midnight".

Gameplay - 9/10
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Band Brothers is unlike most rhythm games, in the sense that instead of simply following a beat, you actually PLAY the music. The midi format sound allows each instrument to play independently, and that is exactly what you do: Pick one instrument from a song's list of playable instruments and get your groove on with the rest of the song playing in the background. You wanna play drums? Go for it, but if you can't keep up, and your song sounds like ass, you may want to opt for something easier like a horn or bass.

The input style of the notes is very simple. A large scrolling chart is displayed on the top screen that will show you which buttons you must press in order to play accurately. The "Head" of the note is where it starts, and the "tail" is how long you must hold the button down. On most difficulties you'll also see large glowing fields that say "Touch!", which will prompt you to touch the bottom screen (anywhere) and the game will auto-play notes that are deemed "too hard" for the current difficulty.

The easiest mode (default) is very simple. Blue notes prompt you to press any direction on the D Pad, and Red notes let you press any one of the A/B/X/Y buttons. As you progress through "Recording Ticket" mode (I'll explain that in a second) you'll unlock the Normal Mode for each Star level (each instrument has an individual difficulty, 1 - 5 stars, 1 being easiest and 5 being hardest) which has you press specific directions or buttons on the DS. In drum tracks, you'll occasionally see L and R used as well, in this difficulty.

Pro Mode is where things REALLY get cooking. After you complete all the Recording Tickets, you unlock it and must use R and L together with other buttons to raise/lower the octaves of your notes. This is, very hand cramping, and incredibly difficult. Not to mention the increased tempo in Pro.

The Recording Ticket is a randomly selected set of songs/instruments that must be played in order, with a minimal amount of misses, to reach a target score to turn the next star level into Normal mode. This also eventually unlocks Pro Mode.

Also, when you unlock Pro Mode, you open up the ability to make your own songs. Thats right, compose your own midi versions of your favorite songs to play in the game, and share with friends.

Last, but not least, I will mention that all songs (except for the 3 that must be unlocked, and expansion cartridge songs) are unlocked from the very start of the game, so you can jump right into whatever song you want.

Graphics - 1/10
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Huh? What? Oh, yeah don't worry about that score >_>
This game has been in development for a looong time, and as I understand, since the Game Boy Color. The graphics are smooth at least, nothing grainy or anything, but there's just not much life to any of it. The characters have a freaky art style that nearly turned me away from the game, but all in all, who cares. You wouldn't be able to focus on the graphics much anyway, too much playing to be done. If you want a rhythm game for DS that has flashy graphics, get Ouendan. But like I said, it doesn't detract from the game in the least.

Sound/Music - 10/10
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Why buy a rhythm game if it has a crappy soundtrack? Lucky for you, this game has a stellar soundtrack. Even if its all in midi (instrumentals, if you don't know, so there's no vocals), it still kicks ass.
What can you expect from Band Brother's track listing? READY STEADY GO, Shanghai Honey, Seasons, Melissa, and... well, if you aren't into Jpop, you may not know a lot of that. BUT, there is the perk of having many worldwide classic songs (like Smoke on the Water, and Four Seasons (Spring)) as well as Medleys of your favorite Nintendo games (Super Mario Bros., Zelda, Pokemon, Kirby, etc).

Point is, the track listing is MASSIVE, theres a ton of songs to play, PLUS most of the songs have at least 6 instruments so that FURTHER increases the things to play. Wanna play Ready Steady Go but can't keep up with synthesized vocals? Why not go for the Bass? Think you're good? Try the drums!
Lets not forget that you can make your own songs (once you unlock the option) and buy the Expansion Cart that gives you ANOTHER 31 songs plus the ability to play each instrument. There's something in this game for everyone, if you wanted to show it off, I'm sure whoever you want to show knows Smoke on the Water, Four Seasons (Spring) or the Christmas Medley.

Story - Umm/10
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This is the only music shop in town open at midnight... and you're playing instruments... yep, thats about all I know. Who cares? Its fun.

Language Barrier - 5/10
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Trial and Error saves the day. If you've played Ouendan and think you can just skim through the menus just as easily, you're mistaken. There is considerably more Japanese and a lot of guessing must be done. But, as I said, after some trial and error, a few days of it, you'll be surfing through the menus like they were in plain ol' English. Except the music maker, that thing is confusing as all hell, but with the proper guide in hand, you'll get through it decently.

Final Thoughts
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The game is godly, at least simply for the fact that there is so much variety, so many things to play. Plus, you can have an 8 player band (playing together) with ONE game card (friends and additional DSes are, sadly, not included with Band Brothers).

Pros:
+ Huge Song list, a majority of them are great.
+ Simple to play, hard to master.
+ If you suck, you don't lose, you'll just be presented with a nasty score.
+ The manuals are in the form of 3 poster-style pictures with instructions on the back.
+ Make your own songs, if you have the skills to do so.
+ Expansion Cart offers even more songs.
+ The coolest Nintendo Logo screen ever, changes every time you start the game.

Cons:
- Bad graphics, but who cares?
- Without decent common sense skills, you'll have trouble pawing through the menus.
- Expensive, requires importing.
- The expansion cart costs almost as much as the main game, and can't work without it.

If you like rhythm games, have a DS and $50 or so to spare, this would definitely be worth your money. Incredibly replayable and there's something for everyone. And lets not forget, this is the only music shop in town open at midnight.


Reviewer's Score: 9/10 | Originally Posted: 07/27/06


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