What parents need to know
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that this is the latest game to jump on the music game bandwagon, but unlike some others, it doesn't require guitar and drum peripherals to play. The E10+ rating refers to some very mild language such as "crap," "ass," and "hell" in lyrics. Players can deck out band members in new outfits and accessories, but they're all actually quite tame and tasteful.
What's it about?
Disney's ULTIMATE BAND follows a typical rags to riches story of a four piece band playing gigs around town to work its way up to fame and glory by playing a concert in the acclaimed Rock Dome. Instead of using special instrument controllers, each of the four instruments -- drums, guitar, bass, and front man -- are controlled using the Wii remote and Nunchuk in various combinations of waving motions and button presses.
Passing songs earns accolades that unlock new venues, along with money that can be spent on new clothing, accessories, and hairstyles for the band members. Story mode and Practice Jam mode (where you can practice unlocked songs individually) both support 1 to 4 players, and there's also Battle Mode where two players battle it out on the same instrument.
Is it any good?
The game offers a soundtrack of 35 rock songs from the likes of Weezer, the Doors, Blondie, Modest Mouse, the White Stripes, and My Chemical Romance. Vocals are not supported, so there's no singing; rather, players mimic the poses and gestures of the front man. All songs are re-recorded covers, and vocals change to male or female depending on whether you've selected a male or female frontman for your band.
The ability to customize your band and play all of the instruments in it is fun; the downside is that controls can get overly complicated – especially bass, which involves tilting the Nunchuk as well as pressing down buttons -- and seems less like you're pretending to play an instrument and more like just tapping and waving on the beat. Rock Band and Guitar Hero will give players a better sense of what it's really like to play an instrument, but Ultimate Band is a less stressful, less difficult, and cheaper alternative without large peripherals to take up space.
Families can talk about...
Families can talk about how important a band's "look" is. The game offers a lot of customizations options for band members -- what look did you go for and why? What instrument was your favorite to play? Does playing the game inspire you to learn an instrument in real life?