Parents' Choice Foundation: Reviewing Children's Media Since 1978

Band Hero

Band Hero

Spring 2010 Video Games
Ages: 10 & Up
Publisher: Activision, Inc.
Price: $49.99
Gaming System: Nintendo DS
Band Hero for Nintendo DS/DS Lite has its plusses and minuses. In past DS versions (Guitar Hero On Tour and Guitar Hero 5), one could play as the guitarist in the dinky-screen band using the special guitar grip. Now, Activision has added a thumb-thumping silicone drum-controller sleeve that fits over the DS. Band Hero also unveils its new microphone feature for vocals. Players can play the whole band in one hand--except that, arguably, thumbing a rubbery drums sleeve lacks the thwack whack of real drumming.

The game's basic modes are all intact, but stripped down. There's Quickplay for instant gratification as well as the Career Mode for the longer-term game players (though the mini version is not nearly as demanding as the console versions). The multi-player mode allows kids and their DS-equipped buddies to jam away on these teeny tiny controllers.

But caveat emptor! The full game, including the new drum and vocals features, works only on the Nintendo DS Lite. On the older, original Nintendo DS, the game's guitar and mic features will work but not the drums. With the sleek DSi--the newest Nintendo DS camera-capable handheld--players can use the mic and maybe the thumb the dumb drums if you're able to adapt (snip, snip) the silicone skin to fit, but never mind the guitar. No plug-in slot.

As for the 30-song tracklist, Activision pulled together half as many but a wider variety of songs than on the console. Most come from the past decade, including Avril Lavigne's "Girlfriend," Black Eyed Peas's "Let's Get It Started," Blink-182's "First Date" and Sum 41's "In Too Deep." Closest it gets to classic rock is a song each by The Rolling Stones, Queen and The Pretenders.

So beyond the hand cramps and DS-compatibility shortcomings, this is a good enough portable rock-band game for the backseat of the car.

Don Oldenburg   ©2010 Parents' Choice
A former feature writer and consumer columnist at The Washington Post for 22 years, Don Oldenburg is the Director of Publications and Editor of the National Italian American Foundation, in Washington, D.C. He regularly reviews books for USA Today and is the coauthor of "The Washington DC-Baltimore Dog Lovers Companion" (Avalon Travel). The proud father of three sons, he lives with his journalist-author wife, Ann Oldenburg, in McLean, VA.

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Activision, Inc.
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