Gaming & Technology

'Band Hero' fits a marketing niche

I'm neither a teen nor a family man. Keep that in mind because Band Hero aims for both.

All in all, the new spinoff from the Guitar Hero series is much like its predecessors, so much so that it has me wondering when rhythm-game developers Neversoft and rival Harmonix of Rock Band will stop releasing new games and just do downloadable content.

Band Hero is clearly built off the same Guitar Hero gaming engine, includes similar game modes and even says, "You rock" at the end of each song, although my friends noted that it probably should say "You band," because this isn't to be confused with Guitar Hero or Rock Band.

So what's different? The soundtrack.

This game aims for teens and preteens. With Hilary Duff and a trio of songs from Taylor Swift, this soundtrack is much more poppy than the traditional Guitar Hero fare.

That's not to say it's loaded up with that, though. The bulk of songs are from the past decade, but there are 1990s gems including Everclear's Santa Monica (Watch the World Die) and The Mighty Mighty Bosstones' The Impression That I Get. And with a nod to the parents, Band Hero includes Roy Orbison's Oh, Pretty Woman, Marvin Gaye's I Heard It Through the Grapevine and Don McLean's American Pie.

American Pie underscores the family friendly tone of the game: The iconic line "And them good old boys were drinkin' whiskey and rye" has had whiskey removed.

It's nice to see some of these songs make it to a rhythm game. The Village People's Y.M.C.A. wouldn't really do well with the Rock Band and Guitar Hero audiences, but it deserves to be out there and enjoyed.

Besides the songs, the backgrounds have been updated to be brighter and more colorful, surely a nod to the kids.

From a consumer's perspective, it would have been nice to be able to just buy any of the 65 songs in the game as downloadable content to Guitar Hero 5. Of course, seeing as how downloadable songs cost about $2, it's a better deal to get all 65 for the standalone game's price tag of $59.99. That said, I could pick out only 21 songs that I would have bought.

And Guitar Hero 5's theme isn't really what some parents might consider suitable for their tweens.

The game does offer the ability to import songs from some previous Guitar Hero games. That's a major plus and to be applauded. We're getting to the point that we have so many rhythm games that it would be nice to just have one central game that would accept all the songs across a series' various versions.

And Band Hero's songs would be a welcome addition to just such a program.