Review: Daigasso! Band Brothers DX

Review: Daigasso! Band Brothers DX

Synthesised trumpet wails may drag your mind kicking and screaming back to hectic music lessons full of parping Casio keyboards, but in Band Brothers DX they triumphantly herald one of Nintendo’s finest DS titles of recent memory. The sequel to the Japanese-only 2005 offering, the basic concept is unchanged – hitting button cues to play one instrumental strand of a grander composition – while the package is considerably fattened up.

With Guitar Hero and Rock Band in an escalating war of bells and whistles, Band Brothers maturely trumps them with its feature list while making no apologies for the less sophisticated game at its heart. Button thumping makes no attempt to dress itself up as musical mimicry; following button cues reminds more of Konami’s Bemani Pop’n Music than the posturing simulations that currently reign.

Real similarities start and end with finger-blistering difficulty; DX’s Classic FM playlist showing young Through the Fire and Flames pretenders the true hardships of malicious note placement. Stuffiness is avoided, however, with light-hearted orchestrations of said old-timers; Beethoven taking his proper place as a reggae superstar and Swan Lake wonderfully re-imagined as gothic thrash-rock.

Adding to the 31 included tracks – each carrying at least six instrumental parts to perfect – is a library of some 400 downloadable licensed tracks. A legal catch sees you limited to 100 downloads which, although forcing you to lose out on 300 other musical gems, is still a remarkably generous library for the price of admission. Tunes left behind can surely be cooked up in the edit mode, neatly sporting the option to hum into the mic for the game to interpret as sheet music.

Add a Japanese Wii into the equation and an exclusive DX channel can be downloaded that wirelessly links the two machines, hijacking the television speakers for grander audio output. The Wii Fit and Mario Kart channels were a step in this direction, but this cross-format interaction is a leap for the playful functionality Nintendo always promised from its sibling technologies.

Band Brothers’ synth stylings may seem crude in this age of record-label-endorsed strum-offs, but there are few titles that so profoundly understand the flexibility and fun of noisemaking.