A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this game feels like a promotional tool for The Naked Brothers Band television show and music. It could make impressionable kids want to watch the Naked Brothers Band TV show and movies, as well as purchase Naked Brothers Band CDs and merchandise. That said, if your kids are interested enough in the game that they want to play it, then they probably desire these things already. Aside from the commercialism, there's little about the game that warrants wariness. The lyrics are squeaky clean, as is the bare bones story in tour mode.
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What's it about?
The Naked Brothers Band (of Nickelodeon television fame) get in on the interactive music craze with THE NAKED BROTHERS BAND: THE VIDEO GAME, a rhythm game that allows players to pretend they're the musicians in the band. We get to try our hands at guitar, bass, keyboard, drums, and cello, as well as sing along with lead vocalist Nat. No pricey peripherals are required; players simply shake the Wii's motion-sensitive remote and nunchuk.
Several modes are available, including a single-player tour that has the player taking on the role of each band member in turn as the group travels across the country playing gigs in cities including Seattle, New Orleans, and New York. You can also jam alone using the instrument of your choice, or play with or against another player in party mode.
Is it any good?
The instrument simulations are well done. The guitar, bass, and cello play more or less the same; players use the nunchuk's joystick to select the proper note, then shake the remote to strum (or pluck, as the case may be). Playing the drums involves simply shaking the remote and nunchuk in time with onscreen cues. The keyboard is arguably the trickiest of all the instruments, as it forces players to peck notes with each hand by pressing directions on the control stick or d-pad while shaking either the nunchuk or remote. It can feel a little like trying to pat your head and rub your tummy at the same time, but it's fun.
Of course, a player's enjoyment of these instruments will be influenced directly by his or her appreciation of the music featured in the game. If you don't dig The Naked Brothers Band's particular brand of kiddy pop, then there's not much point in picking up a controller. Also keep in mind that while the game plays well, it doesn't look particularly impressive. The character models only vaguely resemble their real-life counterparts, and they animate awkwardly. What's more the frame rate occasionally lags mid-song, making the approaching notes appear to slow down -- not good in a game that relies on rhythm. It's a surprisingly entertaining musical experience, given its television show roots, but it still feels like a budget title.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the game's authenticity. Did you really feel as though you were playing the bass, the cello, the keyboard, the drums, and the guitar? Which felt most realistic? Do games like this make you want to start learning real musical instruments? Do you wish the game offered a broader selection of music from a variety of bands?
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