Friday, January 18, 2008

Daigasso! Band Brothers

One of the first 50 games ever released for the DS you may wonder why I'm only reviewing this now. This is a new site and I've only just now managed to get my hands on this title. And if you've been sitting on the fence then a review like this one for a Japanese import can never really be "late."

Yes, the menus are in Japanese. Yes, it will frustrate you until you figure out what the heck is going on. Yes, it is worth it.

Normally when I get frustrated by a game for any reason I drop it like it's hot and move on to the next one. After all, there are hundreds of DS titles to get to so why waste any more than a few minutes on a stinker? Daigasso! Band Brothers frustrated me. Navigating the menus was like trying to get across the Atlantic with a New York subway map and a broken compass. But I saw something underneath the murk; underneath the haze. Something grabbed me and pulled me in wanting to play more. I stuck it out and now that I have half a clue of what's happening on the dual screens I'm hooked.

Daigasso! Band Brothers is a rhythm game that can be compared to Rock Band but with some key differences. It was released four years prior to Rock Band, costs a lot less, fits in your pocket, supports more players and more instruments, and allows users to compose their own tunes to play with their bandmates. Don't have any friends? Don't worry because the single player campaign is every bit as addictive.

You choose your song, choose your instrument (some songs feature 8 different tracks) and then it's your standard "hit the button when we say" rhythm game. The fun is in learning all the different instrument parts which all have their own difficulty ratings. Then you've got to unlock all three difficulty levels. When you start you've only got to worry about hitting D-Pad or ABXY; it doesn't matter which direction on the D-Pad or which button you hit as long as you differentiate between control cross and buttons. The higher levels indicate exactly which buttons to hit and then level three has you concerned with sharps and flats using the triggers.

The one downside may be that many of the songs are not going to be instantly recognized by your average North American. Didn't bother me any and, as mentioned, if you're handy with the composer you can edit in any song you like. New songs are available in Japan as downloads. But really it's all about the gameplay so don't worry about the J-Pop and Japanese television themes. Smoke on the Water is included so there's at least one you'll know.

Really makes you wonder why Nintendo decided to skip their plans to bring this to America as Jam with the Band. Maybe current successes like Guitar Hero and Rock Band will change some minds at NOA HQ. Please?

However, don't risk waiting too long for a release stateside. Import this one now so you'll have it.

Strong buy.

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