Parents' Choice Foundation: Reviewing Children's Media Since 1978

Ultimate Band

Ultimate Band

Spring 2009 Video Games
Ages: 10 - 16 yrs.
Price: $49.99
Gaming System: Nintendo Wii
If your kids are already loving Rock Band and Guitar Hero, the two pioneering videogames that use instrument-like controllers and give players the virtual experience of playing in a rock 'n' roll band, then the may not jump on the Ultimate Band wagon.

Essentially, this is Disney's catch-up game. Disney's trying to create rock-band play without the instrument-like controllers, even brags that you don't need "plastic instruments" to play a videogame rock band. Ultimate Band replaces them with the Wii movement-sensor remotes-as if wiggling the Wii remote approximates playing a guitar or drums better than the instrument-like controllers. It doesn't. And, of course, the Wii controller is itself a plastic instrument, only one more step removed from the real deal-and, ultimately, not nearly as fun as a fake guitar or fake drums. That said, there are positives about Ultimate Band-especially if your youngsters are younger, eager to play the rock videogames they've heard about, and you don't want to shell out the dough for the more expensive games (with the plastic instrument-like controllers).

This is a Disney product, which means despite the skinny, large-headed animated rockers, you won't get any nastiness, no tattoos, no suggestive movements that you might glimpse in the other rock-band videogames. Worse case is your child may aspire to be too skinny, grow craggy hair, wear slightly skimpy clothing and play rock music. Content-wise, this is sort of the Miley Cyrus, Jonas Brothers, Taylor Swift take on rock morality-wholesome, in other words. Disney edits out bad lyrics. And while the song list is pretty good, from Avril Lavigne's "Complicated" to Maroon Five's "Won't Go Home Without You," they're all covers, not original tunes like in some of the other rock-star videogames.

Disney goes to great lengths to create multiple possibilities using the Wii remote connected to the Wii Nunchuk to mimic motions of playing guitar, bass, drums and even doing front-man moves (though they're the weakest of the mechanics). Plus, making mistakes wiggling and shaking the Wii controllers during a song doesn't make much of a difference. Shake your controllers at about the right time and you get credit. The game does report your accuracy percentage, but the song goes on and so does the show. Several play modes let you practice, do a jam session, try a battle of the band set or plan a career. Another cool feature is that in editing your four band members, the gender of your "front man" will change the lead vocals to male or female of the songs your band plays. What Ultimate Band brings to the videogaming stage is a less expensive introduction for younger rock-star wanna-bes to rock-n-roll videogaming.

Don Oldenburg   ©2009 Parents' Choice
A former feature writer and consumer columnist at The Washington Post for 22 years, Don Oldenburg is the Director of Publications and Editor of the National Italian American Foundation, in Washington, D.C. He regularly reviews books for USA Today and is the coauthor of "The Washington DC-Baltimore Dog Lovers Companion" (Avalon Travel). The proud father of three sons, he lives with his journalist-author wife, Ann Oldenburg, in McLean, VA.

Look for this product at:
Disney Interactive Studios
Major, Specialty & Online Retailers

Share This