Band Hero

Band Hero

Band Hero

Rock bland.

If you're still wondering what Band Hero actually is - and I certainly was until about two months ago, when Activision started giving demonstrations - it's a pop-centric, family-friendly reskin of the excellent Guitar Hero 5. It's presumably been given a different name so that it doesn't encroach upon GH5's already-vast audience, or the image of the brand, because it's a bit like an evil twin - it's got all the features and all the technical quality of its sibling, but none of the soul.

It puts all of Guitar Hero 5's best and most time-saving features on proud display. Jump-in, jump-out Party Play is still in effect, and you can still create your own playlists for it. The game still remembers everyone's instrument, difficulty level and preferred character so that you barely have to spend any time in menus. The unified career is still structured around different arenas, opening up five or six songs at a time to try your hand. There are still Challenges that motivate you to play all the different instruments rather than sticking to one, and to experiment with your technique.

Good as all these features are, though, and as crucial as they are to the Guitar Hero 5's enjoyability and integrity, they make rather less impact second time around. Band Hero brings absolutely nothing new to the table save a rather perplexing makeover. The menus are all enveloped in neon pinks and purples, bright and clean-looking without so much as a smear of Guitar Hero's likeable scuzz. At the end of a song, YOU ROCK flashes up in diamanté. It's so plainly For Girls that it's faintly embarrassing - as if women who haven't picked up a plastic guitar before are going to be convinced that the idea isn't so ridiculous after all thanks to a change in colour scheme and the inclusion of Avril Lavigne.

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New songs announced for Band Hero

New songs announced for Band Hero

Bowie! Benatar! Gaye! Evanescence.

Activision has written down some of the songs set to appear in Band Hero later this year.

As it's a pop spin-off, the likes of Hilary Duff, The Kooks and Robbie Williams are expected. However, Activision is also recruiting David Bowie and Roy Orbison to ensnare an older generation.

Band Hero is due out this autumn on DS, PS3, PS2, Wii and Xbox 360. Each of those will get new and slightly-improved instruments - as announced yesterday - although there's no concrete date nor price to go by just yet.

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Band Hero

Guitar Hero: Pop Edition.

Band Hero has long been lurking at the bottom of the Activision Blizzard release list in perplexing proximity to the more self-explanatory DJ Hero and Guitar Hero brands, but until last week I had absolutely no idea what it was. It doesn't take much power of deduction to conclude that it's another peripheral-based music game, but why? Surely that could only serve to dilute the Guitar Hero brand? I'm not sure how many more plastic instruments my flat can hold. I can count seven guitars without even exaggerating for comic effect.

Band Hero coming to DS too

Complete with Drum Grip peripheral.

Activision has announced Band Hero will be coming to the DS, and will be playable with a new Drum Grip peripheral.