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

Band Hero

Band Hero

Spring 2010 Video Games
Ages: 10 & Up
Publisher: Activision, Inc.
Price: $199.99
Gaming System: Nintedo Wii
It's tough to create a great videogame and then, with each new sequel, try to trump all that greatness. Released only a couple months after Activision unveiled its admirably improved Guitar Hero 5, Band Hero(Wii) practically duplicates GH5's best features.

Like GH5, Band Hero (Wii) has some definite upsides for virtual rock 'n' rollers, starting with the fun and carefree Party Play mode, which makes getting started playing nearly effortless. You'll be playing a tune in no time! More laid-back than past versions, Band Hero (Wii) also lets you combine whatever "instruments" (the peripheral controllers disguised as plastic pseudo instruments) you want, drop a song and try something else at any time, drop or add a band member, create a mini set list for your band, all sorts of easy apps. Even better, Band Hero (Wii) is more forgiving than ever of band members who aren't quite in sync (like that younger sibling who botches songs).

There's also a Quickplay Mode that makes everything easier; the Career Mode still makes you progress through different shows and venues and earn new gigs, but it has never been simpler. The Wii-exclusive Roadie Game Mode is a for-laughs-only distraction and really isn't about the music. But the Jam and Composition (GH Studio) modes are all-good, allowing players to noodle around with a looping backsound or create their own songs altogether.

All of that lends to Band Hero's (Wii) family-friendly persona. Sure, a few of the onscreen animated characters are a bit sexed up and full-figured (hey, this is rock 'n' roll!). But, parents may be pleased to know, Activision has blanked out violent, sexually explicit or even mildly suggestive lyrics from its 65-song track list. What's more, the song list targets teens and 'tweens with mostly Top-40 pop tracks more than any previous Activision rocker. Squeaky-clean Taylor Swift gets three songs ("Love Story," "Picture to Burn" and "You Belong With Me") and you can even earn a Taylor Swift look-alike character onscreen by playing her songs well. There are two tunes by No Doubt ("Just a Girl" and "Don't Speak"), plus others from Hilary Duff, Jesse McCartney, Aly and AJ, and Maroon 5, among others. Sure, Don McLean ("American Pie" (minus the "whiskey" in the lyrics), Jackson 5 ("ABC") and Roy Orbison ("Pretty Woman") make cameos, but the oldies here are great singing songs that span demographics.

The final upside of this Wii version is that all of its instruments (a guitar, drum set and microphone included in Super Bundle version) are wireless. That's a big plus in setting up a band session, and a parent-pleasing convenience in post-concert clean-up.

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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