Band Hero Hands-On Preview
Xbox 360 | PS3 | Wii | PS2
Band Hero box art
System: X360, PS3, Wii, PS2, DS Review Rating Legend
Dev: Neversoft 1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid 4.0 - 4.4 = Great
Pub: Activision 2.0 - 2.4 = Poor 4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy
Release: Nov. 3, 2009 2.5 - 2.9 = Average 5.0 = The Best
Players: 1-4 (8 Online) 3.0 - 3.4 = Fair
ESRB Rating: Everyone 10+ 3.5 - 3.9 = Good
Pop Goes the Hero
by Jonathan Marx

October 14, 2009 - Band Hero - the name most thought Activision would use for World Tour and Guitar Hero 5 - is a spinoff from the main franchise that looks to capitalize on the success of music from the pop charts. By presenting itself in more casual-friendly pinks and electric blues, bringing together a compilation of chart-topping hits, and adding the karaoke-style Sing-Along mode, the next outing in the storied music IP should be the perfect addition to round out any Guitar Hero fanatic's collection.

Band Hero screenshot

After going hands-on with Band Hero, it became immediately apparent that the game is more or less a repackaged Guitar Hero 5. That's no knock - the Guitar Hero 5 template in terms of organization and play modes is essentially the Holy Grail of music gaming. As such, GH5's drop-in drop-out Party Play setting is in full effect. You can play competitively online or at home in the RockFest mode. You can create your own songs through GH Studio. And you can bring together any instrument combination you wish (four guitars, two drums and two guitars, etc.). What's more, if you're a Wii owner, you can expect all the same great console-specific extras that came with GH5, i.e. Mii Freestyle, connectivity between Wii and DS, and if you own Band Hero for both Wii and DS you'll unlock additional content.

Utilizing the Guitar Hero 5 structure as its base, Band Hero re-skins the game to make it pop music-friendly. At first glance, the pink and blue color scheme and bright lights may turn off the franchise's core following. Even the classic avatars of the series have gotten a thick coat of polish - they look like they could have been pulled directly out of Gossip Girl or The O.C. Nevertheless, the teenybopper finish is only skin deep, there is an awful lot of quality content that everyone will enjoy. Moreover, every song from GH: World Tour can be brought over to Band Hero to further expand its appeal.


Besides, you should never judge a book by its cover. Band Hero has a lot more in common with its Guitar Hero roots than with SingStar. Players will still be able to choose from a multitude of difficulty settings (from Easy to Expert) that are bound to challenge all but the most talented virtual virtuosos. The development teams have lavished over the note tracks with as much attention to detail as you would expect from the mainline Guitar Hero series, and many of the songs have a rather steep level of difficulty.

Band Hero screenshot

Of course, in order to fully capture the casual crowd and get girls over to your house to party, Activision, Vicarious Visions, Neversoft, and Budcat have put together a set list of pop songs spanning the decades and various genres that are bound to have everyone in your living room singing along. While the hands-on code we played only had 26 tracks to play (a handful of which were in-house GHTunes songs), all of them were extremely well-known crowd-pleasers. Also, the final retail release will feature a total of 65 tracks, including artists such as Taylor Swift, No Doubt, Lily Allen, The All-American Rejects, Jackson 5, Maroon 5, Jesse McCartney, Go-Go's, The Turtles, The Mighty Bosstones, and Janet Jackson.

The most unique portion of this newest entry is the inclusion of the karaoke-like Sing-Along mode. Rather than worrying about scores or hitting notes precisely, partygoers simply sing along as you would in your favorite sushi lounge. Up to four players can join in on any song from the entire collection, instantly making this one of the most compelling singing-centric party titles on the market.

Band Hero screenshot

While Band Hero may not offer a whole lot of innovation over Guitar Hero 5, it is set to be a great alternative to it. Its convincing set list, tailored to pop music enthusiasts, will undoubtedly find a massive audience this holiday season. Even if you're not into the top 40, there's a heck of a lot more good music included in this game besides bubblegum rock. Band Hero should be a great way to get friends of every stripe over to your house to kick back and have a good time. Stay tuned to CheatCC for our full written review when it releases this November.

By Jonathan Marx
CCC Editor / News Director

Game Features:

  • Rock to the Beat - Band Hero includes the most fun music that brings friends and family of all ages together to sing, play guitar, or drum to a wide variety of today's chart topping hits and most recognizable anthems. The game features an explosive on-disc set list of more than 65 tracks from the hottest new bands and classic artists, including Maroon 5, Jesse McCartney, Go-Go's, The Turtles and Janet Jackson.
  • Let's Get this Party Started! - Novice and expert players alike will find it easier than ever to jump in and jam out with friends and family thanks to Band Hero's Party Play mode. Party Play inserts players straight into the action from the start-up menu with the press of a button allowing them to join in, drop out, or switch personal options at any time without fear of failing the song or interrupting the jam session.
  • Put The Band Together Your Way - In Band Hero gamers are free to create the experience they want by tailoring their band to suit their style. People can play alone or select any combination of multiple vocalists, bassists, drummers or guitarists to create their own band and rock with, in Band Hero.
  • Step Up to the Challenge - A little competition never hurt anyone! Band Hero's RockFest mode is a collection of challenges at varying difficulties designed for up to four players locally and up to eight players online.
  • Live In the Moment - Capturing the essence of being in a big-named band and nailing those memorable sections of popular songs is what Band Hero's Band Moments is all about. Hitting all the notes in a special section earns bands bonus multipliers and creates the ultimate sense of accomplishment as the crowd screams for more.
  • The Ultimate Jukebox - Further expanding upon the hours of nonstop on-disc entertainment in Band Hero, is the ability for fans to play Guitar Hero® World Tour's downloadable content in the game, utilizing all of the upgrades and features in Band Hero.
  • Sing Any Way You Want - A classic karaoke mode where up-to four players can showcase their vocal chops, Sing-Along allows players to perform any song from the entire set list, without worrying about scores or failing out.
  • Make and Share Music - Band Hero features the innovative GHTM Studio and GHTunessm first introduced in Guitar Hero World Tour. Produce hits in the redesigned music studio with improved editing tools, new guitar samples and mix patterns, or budding musicians can head over to GH™Jam and rock out with more than 400 easy-to-use music patterns for any instrument to create recordings that can be refined in GHMix 2.0. Up to 50 songs can be uploaded to GHTunes giving players the chance to share what could be the next breakout hit!

  • Screenshots / Images
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