Review by Mutescreamer

"Rock 'n roll"

Daigasso! Band Brothers! is a new Nintendo franchise, and their first handheld rhythm game. Originally developed for the Game Boy Advance, it was moved to the DS ready for launch in Japan.

The game starts with a short, nonsensical intro, in English for some reason. "Here in Wow-wow Town. This is the only music shop in town open at midnight". After this you're at the title screen, which is actually a notice board with various... Notices posted, which serve as links to each game mode. Leave it for a while and a tutorial kicks in, or you can manually choose the tutorial from the blue button at the bottom of the screen.

There are three main modes in the game; Single Play, Band Play and the Edit mode. You'll be spending most of your time (at the beginning anyway) in Single Play mode. Here you can play each song in the game individually or choose the Special Event option where you attempt to record a three track EP. Do well in Special Event and you'll up the difficulty in the normal mode, and eventually unlock Pro mode and Pro Edit mode.

How The Game Plays

If you've played a rhythm game before you'll be in familiar territory. Each song is spilt into different instruments, up to eight. Each instrument has a star rating, with five being the most difficult and one obviously being the easiest. The instruments include guitar, keyboard, drums, bass, etc.... Once you've picked a song you can pick to just jump right in and play, or slow/speed up the tempo, and practice with different button presses. The top screen of the DS is split up into measures of notes and a cursor runs across the screen. When the cursor is above a note, you press and/or hold the appropriate button. If the note vanishes and a white circle appears, you've done it perfectly. A green splotch (for want of a better word) indicates you hit the note too early, and a blue splotch means you were a little note. Nothing at all, and you messed it up big time. At the beginning of the game, it's quite simple as you only have two buttons to press, a directional button or one of the face buttons. The better you do in Special Event mode, the trickier the button presses become, with you ending up having to deal with changing the pitch of each note or adding cymbals to an already complicated drum pattern. I've probably made it sound obscenely complicated, but with the tutorial mode and a little practice you should be able to get into it.

What Band Brothers does better than most rhythm games is give you the feeling that you're actually creating music. Whilst other games are just glorified versions of Simon, this gives you the impression that you have total control of your chosen instrument. You've got eight buttons to make different notes, and the shoulder buttons are used change the pitch. For drum kits they just count as two extra pieces of kit. The touch screen is used during the early stages of the game, and when complicated parts come up you just hit the touchscreen and the DS will play it for you. At the end of the song you've given a score out of 100, given to you depending on performance, combos (how many notes you hit perfectly in a row) and head misses (notes you missed at the beginning) and tail misses (notes you didn't keep playing fully).

Being (for now) a Japanese only game, you can imagine that there's going to be a lot of Japanese music in the game. There are six categories for songs; J-Pop, World Music, TV Theme Tunes, Classical, Video Game Music and Custom. There are thirty eight songs in the game, with at least four instruments to play for each song. That's over 100 variations for you to play. There are songs from the frighteningly titled Kinki Kids, Morning Musume, Orange Range and plenty more bands you've probably never heard of. Deep Purple make an unusual, but welcome appearance with Smoke On The Water, and there are several brilliant Nintendo Medleys, including Zelda, Mario, Kirby and Pokemon. Nintendo fans will be pleased, J-Pop fans will be delighted, and even if you don't like the genres they're all fun to play. If for some reason you don't like these songs you can always make your own...

Making Your Own Music

The game comes with two ways to make your very own music! One of them is bloody awful, and the other is ridiculously in-depth and fun. The first uses the microphone and you whistle or sing into the DS, and it attempts to record it and convert it to music. Unfortunately it doesn't work, in the slightest. What you sing or whistle into it rarely comes out how you intended. Best to leave this alone. The other mode is the Pro Edit mode and could practically be sold as a game on its own (it's certainly more in depth than the Music series for the Playstation ever was). Here you're given access to a sequencer and can make your own songs note by note. It's the only part of the game where knowledge in Japanese is needed (you could probably stumble your way through, but it wouldn't be pretty) but thankfully there's a decent translation guide on GameFAQs.com. Once you work out to use it, and assuming you understand how to write songs, you can churn out wonderfully tinny MIDI songs. I've currently got a Red Hot Chili Peppers song, a Sonic The Hedgehog track, some original songs and even a Beatles track. The mode is too in depth and complicated to go into detail here, but it's worth the £20 or so you'll be paying for it. You can also trade songs with other people, and some clever people on the internet have found a way to swap songs online. You can store up to eight songs, or using an Action Replay store as many songs as you want on your computer's hard drive.

Multiplayer

If you've got DS owning friends you're in for a treat. Thankfully there's a single-card multiplayer mode, which means that you can perform songs with up to seven other friends using just your own version of the game. You can have unlimited players if they all have copies of the game. Multiplayer is where the game really shines. After a short loading time, whilst you're transmitting the game to your friends, you choose a song. Each player is a member of your band. The DS takes the place of any remaining players. Once you've all chosen your instrument you get a cute screen introducing your band, then it's time to go busking on the streets of Wow Wow Town. Play well and they'll throw money into your guitar case. Play horribly and you'll be going home without any cash. If there's a part of the song where you're just sitting twiddling your thumbs, you can send a hand written message to either the whole band or an individual member. Quite amusing if the sendee is in the middle of a complicated solo.

Aesthetics

Graphically the game is competent. It's a rhythm game, so don't expect 10 billion bump-mapped, dynamically shaded polygons to be flying around (no, I don't quite know what that means either). It's all simple, but with a charm of its own. All the menus are designed as if they're different sections of a music shop. Instead of bland menus, you have flyers, notices and CDs to choose from. The tracks all MIDI, and sound fine, but the DS speaks tend to be a bit tinny.

Conclusion

Probably one of the best games currently available for the DS, it's a crime that Nintendo haven't released it outside of Japan. The Japanese-centric songs obviously wouldn't be as popular in the west, but it only takes a few hours to make a decent sounding song in the editor, so it's confusing to see why they haven't got to work. It's been announced for release under the name Jam With The Band, but it seems to be staying in the east for now. It's a shame, but don't be discouraged! The game is easily navigated, and there's even some english (and engrish) in the game, so you should be able to find your way around. If the 38 songs don't keep you occupied, the multiplayer and song editor will. So what are you waiting for? Rock 'n roll.


Reviewer's Score: 9/10 | Originally Posted: 10/19/05


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