Band Mashups Hands-On

Armed with flamethrower guitars and trombone missile launchers, we take our first look at this innovative rhythm game.

Conspicuously absent in games like Rock Band and Guitar Hero III, weaponized musical instruments are going to take "Battle of the Bands" to a whole new level later this year if THQ and Planet Moon Studios get their way. Officially announced for the Wii today, Band Mashups is a competitive rhythm game that will see fictional bands going head-to-head in musical battles played out with sniper violins, flamethrower guitars, trombone missile launchers, and other instruments of mass destruction. We had an opportunity to spend some time with a work-in-progress version of Band Mashups recently, and we're pleased to report that it's looking very promising.

Band Mashups' story-driven single-player campaign is set in the fictional city of New Cadenza, where disputes are settled with band battles and everyone looks like a character from an animated Tim Burton movie. The city is ruled by an evil guy known simply as Mr. Hong, who sees off anyone daring to challenge his authority with the aid of his powerful Violent Orchestra. You can choose to play as any of 11 bands determined to put a stop to Hong's reign of terror, and each purportedly has a different storyline. Each of the playable bands has a unique appearance and unique weapons at its disposal, but falls into one of five genres that determines which version of a song they actually play during battles. The genres are rock, marching band, Latin, country, and funk/hip-hop.

Look out for flamethrower guitars, coming soon to a gig near you.

Playing a song in Band Mashups works in much the same way as it does in the aforementioned music games, but in the absence of a plastic guitar you'll be hitting notes by making gestures with the Wii Remote. There are five different types of notes to hit as they travel up toward the middle of the screen, and the gestures to play them include moving left, moving right, moving up, thrusting, and shaking. Assuming that the two battling bands are representing different genres of music, the version you'll hear is always the one being played by whichever band is currently winning, and it's not uncommon for that to change quite frequently once the weapons start coming into play. Before we talk about the weapons, though, here's a list of 15 of the 30 songs that will be appearing in the game to give you some idea of the eclectic selection. None of these songs are performed by the original artists, but all have been recorded in the styles of all five genres, with language translation where necessary. That's a total of 150 playable recordings for those of you keeping score.

"Adios Mexico" - Texas Tornados
"Blitzkrieg Bop" - The Ramones
"Brick House" - The Commodores
"Dum Diddly" - Black Eyed Peas
"Master Exploder" - Tenacious D
"Feel Good Inc." - Gorillaz
"Insane in the Brain" - Cypress Hill
"Jungle Boogie" - Kool & The Gang
"That's The Way (I Like It)" - KC & The Sunshine Band
"Mama Said Knock You Out" - LL Cool J
"One Thing Leads to Another" - The Fixx
"Photograph" - Def Leppard
"Man of Constant Sorrow" - The Soggy Bottom Boys
"Spoonman" - Soundgarden
"Whoomp! (There It Is)" - Tag Team

At the start of each battle, you'll get to equip your band with three weapons chosen from a selection that's determined by your band of choice, as well as by how far into the game you are and what extras you've unlocked. You get a light weapon, a heavy weapon, and a special weapon, and while playing through a song you'll hit the A button to switch between them. After selecting a weapon, you'll need to hit a certain number of notes in sequence to fire it. You'll need to hit just three consecutive notes to pull the trigger of a gun with the firepower of a peashooter, but you'll need as many as 20 to activate some of the stuff in Band Mashups' endgame arsenal. It's worth noting that most of the weapons have a cooldown timer as well, so you can't just settle on a favorite and spam it over and over again.

Some of the instruments in Band Mashups wouldn't look out of place in a military shooter.

Light weapons and heavy weapons hit the opposing band where it hurts and score you points in the process. Incoming attacks can be blocked with a well-timed press of the B button, but that's not always an easy thing to do when you're waving the Wii Remote around in time to music. On the other hand, special attacks are designed to hamper your opponent's ability to play by messing with his or her controls or the area of the screen where his or her notes appear. Special weapons we put to good use (or were victims of) during our session had effects such as obscuring note tracks with smoke, reversing the left/right controls, setting the onscreen cursor on fire so it can only be put out by shaking the Remote, and charging the sides of the note track with electricity so that any overly energetic left/right gestures are punished with a shock as the cursor hits them. There are plenty more, and we can tell you that a favorite during our session was one that simply made the opponent's notes come at them much faster.

Regardless of whether you're playing the single-player story mode or a two-player versus match, Band Mashups offers three difficulty levels that appear to cater to genre newcomers and experienced guitar heroes alike. In versus mode, each player can choose a different difficulty level. As we learned while playing against a Planet Moon representative who was on a harder difficulty level than us, it's an adequate handicapping system that will let players of varying abilities enjoy some closely contested battles.

Band Mashups is currently scheduled for release in April. We'll bring you more information on the game as soon as it becomes available.

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Discussion

159 comments
p00phead
p00phead

This looks like a poor mans guitar hero

joebetcher
joebetcher

Spoonman by Soundsgarden rocks! Good pick.

ItsRichie
ItsRichie

GUITAR FREAKS AND DRUMANIA RIP OFF... happy sonic_freak87? the 1st ones on industry, and COME ON... MOVIN THE CONTROL IS RRR2... WTH? MISSLES?

Sonic_Freak87
Sonic_Freak87

Why does everyone say this game is a guitar hero rip off?! Do you people think guitar hero was the first rhythm game? I could name off several games but i won't. This game could actually be a really awesome and chaotic party game, but i wouldn't call the game **** until i've played it.

kenshingumi2007
kenshingumi2007

This is gonna suck they should've made it alot more like Guitar Hero! They should've created their own guitar controller instead of using the Wii-remote! I think that this game will flop just like boogy did

BboyKnockout
BboyKnockout

sorry but i have to say this looks kinda...lame? ok that might sound a little mean but that one comment about this being GH for 8 year olds is really true. For true GH players, 3 notes? Playing easy throughout the whole game? And personally i dont care much for shooting missiles at my oponent while rockin out....thats just me. PEACE i say :D but yea, i guess i'll just have to try it :P

jono088
jono088

lol everyone who says something bad about this gets a thumbs down. well i dont care about the thumbs down this looks pretty lame to me. seems like they got GH and made it for 8 year olds... ...oh well i guess i cant really say anything till ive played it...but by the looks of it...come on. its going to the dumps for sure.

ItsRichie
ItsRichie

nah... already played Raving Rabbids 2... just wait for rock band wii

wrist_watch
wrist_watch

Ha, seems like anyone making a less than positive comment about this game gets negatives, but seriously you can't look at this and make the comparison to previous successful games such as Guitar Hero or Rock Band. I remember when Guitar Hero first appeared people were giving it weird looks because it was an adaptation of DDR into another form. The only difference is that going from DDR to GH was Innovation. Then going from Guitar Hero to Rock Band was Evolution. I don't see either od these in this game, but that doesn't mean it's going to flop or not be fun. After all they're working on an already successful formula, but packaged and presented differently to the audience. I do like the addition of the different music genres, but there's really little difference in this game that separates itself from other games like GH.

-White_Knight-
-White_Knight-

Rayman Rabbids 2 has something similar to this already... except it's 4 players... also, I honestly doubt that I'd drop Rock Band and begin playing this if I bought it.

punksta99
punksta99

Dude I've always wanted to play Feel Good Inc. as a marching band! Seriously though, this game looks awesome.

Niroth5
Niroth5

I don't know about you're bias opinions, other people, but I thought this looked good. Who could not buy a game with GUITAR GUNS?!?!

Darkchaoss
Darkchaoss

You don't need to analyze games. Just play them and see if you like them. So what if they're gimmicky or a rip off. If they're fun they're fun.

AlexandLandon
AlexandLandon

[This message was deleted at the request of a moderator or administrator]

ShenlongBo
ShenlongBo

Really? This is what we're calling innovative now? I guess anything that used to be just "quirky" or "gimmicky" is now "innovative." I couldn't be more sick of that word...

PhantomPhoot
PhantomPhoot

I guess no one else can make a rhythm game other than Harmonix or Neversoft. This game, while it looks like a lamer rip-off o GH and RB, is basiclly what developers are resorting to. How do you change the GH/RB formula and try to be original? This is how. And it's sad.

Zarroc96
Zarroc96

Watching those videos is so boring, I only thought it would be good when I first heard about it... but it's a Guitar Freaks/Guitar Hero ripoff.

Grouchu
Grouchu

Rather be playing Guitar Hero.

snoopy248
snoopy248

It's just another kind of rip off of guitar hero... -.-

LinkMaster9
LinkMaster9

I was bored just watching that video. This game will be fun for like 10 min. Man this game looks baaaaad.

Nomad0404
Nomad0404

Might as well just port Space Channel 5 onto the Wii - Up Down Left Right Shoot..............Shoot Shoot Left Right Shoot...........you get the idea. Phil

DrunkDamian
DrunkDamian

its about time i start seeing hip hop songs in these games, i would have preferred "hits from the bong" by cypress hill though...

ps3pwnr
ps3pwnr

this is know looking like a very very horrible game probably a 4.5 out of 10.

pastree
pastree

I don't believe anyone can call this a crap game yet. Its quite possible, but who knows, maybe it will be cool. Seems like battle mode from gh3 was infringed upon a little bit though.

Brebber
Brebber

companies are getting a little overboard with this, i can understand rockband. Guitar hero obviously is the one that made this type of game exciting, but this is ridiculous, anything to make money, even if its a crap game.

Damnation_6
Damnation_6

Well seems Rylynn was right, The concept of Guitar Freaks comes horribly close to Guitar Hero. Wonder why Konami hasn't sued yet :-P

mariomaniac40
mariomaniac40

im not gonna play it to tell u the truth!!!but things are gettin weirder and weirder for the nintendo wii (if you no wat i mean!!!!!!)so im not that surprised thats its only stickin w/nintendo

mariomaniac40
mariomaniac40

[This message was deleted at the request of the original poster]

Rylynn
Rylynn

Man, can't believe all these people bashing it as a rip-off of Guitar Hero when Guitar Freaks was around for what.. almost a decade before Guitar Hero came out? Same with DDR. Why is everyone complaining about this being a rip-off of something that was already ripped-off? Furthermore, this is even less of a rip-off as this is quite a bit different from Guitar Hero when Guitar Hero was almost an exact rip-off of Guitar Freaks!

dustopants
dustopants

i dunno if i'd be down with wii-gesture timing... there's a very slight delay between the Wii-mote and the Wii... but, i'll keep an eye on this game regardless... because I wanna hear "man of constant sorrow" in a Rock form, lol :P

Strife037
Strife037

wow please tell me this game is a joke....lmao it will be like Conductor Hero

Genesis1131
Genesis1131

y is every1 saying this is stealing guitar hero's ideas?...sure its banking in on the trend of rhythm games but guitar hero didnt invent the style...niether did it jump start it by the use of guitars...GuitarFreaks did that first...

MarcoSnow06
MarcoSnow06

Whitesnake5000: 150? 15? 30 songs x 5 styles = 150 songs Interesting idea, but 30 songs, regardless of musical style, still boils down to 30 songs no matter which way you slice it. Still, it'll be interesting to see if this game actually pans out as a legitimate rhythm game title.

kjam68
kjam68

Man cant wait for this game I watched the videos like 17 times this gonna be awesome

Wellk
Wellk

this could end up being a good game. i'll wait for the review

nicynick125
nicynick125

wow people taking harmonix's ideas and ruining them thats sad

Creeker31
Creeker31

Oh boy, here come the Guitar Hero rip-offs that we were all waiting for. Next, Disney is gonna' make a rythm game with magical little elves in your band. Somebody stop this crap!

eheid
eheid

this could be interesting....or, well, not....

randomrings
randomrings

like how Halo 3 was "AMAZING" and Guitar Hero III was horrible compared to Rock Band. That's how people think anyways, I see your point and think this might end up being a decent experience, depending on the controls.

MeEatBrain
MeEatBrain

It's a good idea in life to go into things with an open mind. If you think something's going to suck before you try it, when you do end up trying it it IS going to suck because you already have it in your mind that it will, then you end up being typical gamer d-bags who play the same thing over and over. No one here has tried the game, just seen screen shots and trailers, and yet everyone's ripping it. Try it before you knock it people. It looks like a fun little game with a new concept and cool songs, so why don't we all just calm down and wait until we actually get a chance to *gasp* try the game before we pass judgement.

randomrings
randomrings

hm... in the right hands... this game could've been even awesomer, but it looks almost Disney or Dreamworks-ish from that "Insane in the Membrane" stuff I just watched. I like the idea though, I might look out for this one. PS- I don't know who those better hands are really.

KingSigy
KingSigy

Wow, the game looks awesome. I'm not sure if it will stack up to Guitar Hero, but at least the developers aren't stomping on the creativity.

noamatt128
noamatt128

I hope its awsome. Even if it's not, it certainly shows that a guitar hero killer isn't out of reach.