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LEGO Rock Band (Nintendo DS) Review
Review by 
8/10 from one rating
So I had an Amazon promotional credit that was about to expire, and I had been genuinely curious about LEGO Rock Band on DS even though I already owned it on Wii. I'm a huge fan of the rhythm/music genre, so I had to give this a try.

If you've ever played a Rock Band game, the mechanics are basically the same. You have your note highway, and gems...err, LEGO blocks trickle down the highway as a song progresses. When they cross the bar at the bottom of the highway, press the button that corresponds with the color block that's crossing the line (left on the d-pad for red, up on the d-pad for yellow, X for green and A for blue). If you see a series of white notes, hit them all successfully to build up your Overdrive meter. When you have enough of that stored up, press down on the d-pad, the B button or scream into the mic to go into Overdrive mode, where your score is doubled.

Well, all that's the same, but there are a few new mechanics thrown into the mix. In LEGO Rock Band, you control all four band members at once. Does it sound complicated? It is for a song or two, but it gets easier to manage once you play for a while. You start off with one instrumentalist. Once you hit enough notes in succession, a purple block will appear on the note highway. Hit that purple note and your band member will be happy. Then you can either stay with that band member or move to another by pressing L or R. You will want to move on, as each band member's happiness corresponds to your score multiplier. If you can keep all of your bandmates happy, your multiplier will stay at six (meaning you'll earn six times as many points).

In most Rock Band games, if you miss too many notes, you will eventually fail. This is not true in LEGO Rock Band. If you miss too many notes, you will lose some studs (the LEGO franchise's form of currency) and be out of the song for a few seconds, then you will be placed back in the song. You can earn back your lost studs in the next ten notes by playing them correctly. This holds true for all but a few gigs. In "Rock Power Challenges", you control all four band members on one highway (the parts switch automatically). If you miss too many notes, you will fail the challenge and have to start over.

The studs can be used to purchase new heads, hair and hats, legs and bodies, minifigures or instruments. You can also purchase vehicle kits, which will get you to your gigs. There are more than fifteen venues, but each one is basically the same (sans the decor at the venue). You'll have a song or two, a "Create Your Own Setlist" or a "Random Setlist", and a couple of preset sets to play through. Each venue has no more than four gigs, and each gig has no more than three songs.

As far as customization goes, there's a ton of it...but I wouldn't really know it. The note highways are on the bottom screen, and your band is on the top screen. There's very few times that you will be able to look up and see what's going on without missing a note.

Graphically, the game looks fine. It won't blow your mind, but the characters and their animations look good and there isn't any noticeable slowdown. The game controls great. Simple controls with the d-pad and the face buttons, and they are responsive. You can also play with the stylus, but I prefer more traditional controls (since you still have to use the L and R buttons).

Sound wise, the game has 25 tracks. Whether you like them or not is subjective I guess, but it's not a bad variety.

The game also features ad hoc multiplayer. If your friends have a copy of the game, they can join you in your quest for fame and studs. You just can't switch instruments...you're confined to one instrument.

LEGO Rock Band on DS is a lot of fun, especially since you can play on the go without having to commit to long setlists. Just be sure to wear headphones when you play to get the most out of it.

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Posted: 08/07/10, 06:08:25  - Edited by 
 on: 08/08/10, 01:21:59    
Why not sign up for a (free) account and create your own content?
I skipped the whole music game craze due to not wanting to be encumbered by plastic instruments lying in my already messy living room. But the portable games I could get into. I did enjoy Frequency after all.

So this one doesn't come with a peripheral that plugs into the GBA slot? Have you played the Guitar Hero DS games? How do they compare?

Posted by 
 on: 08/07/10, 06:58:20
I've only spent a few minutes with Guitar Hero on DS, and it was okay (but my fingers did cramp during the second song, which I've heard is somewhat normal). I guess they're similar in the sense that Rock Band and Guitar Hero are similar, so if you liked the DS version, you'll like LEGO Rock Band. No peripherals needed with this one, just the game.

Posted by 
 on: 08/07/10, 15:27:47
Interesting. It's kind of Amplitude-y? I've played the 360 version. The set list was a bit naff, but it had some fun stuff, too. And the Lego cutscenes were kind of cute.

Posted by 
 on: 08/07/10, 17:45:03
Pandareus said:
So this one doesn't come with a peripheral that plugs into the GBA slot? Have you played the Guitar Hero DS games? How do they compare?

Having played both games, I can safely say I prefer the Guitar Hero games. Besides the visceral feeling of tapping the frets on the Guitar Grip peripheral and strumming on the touch screen, the overall sound quality seems better with Guitar Hero. Each version of Guitar Hero also has more songs to play than LEGO Rock Band, which is a plus. Not only that, but if you have a different version of Guitar Hero than your buddy, when you play multiplayer, you have access to both games' set lists.

The thing that bugged me most about LEGO Rock Band (and Rock Band: Unplugged on PSP) was that you had to switch instruments mid-song to keep all your band members happy. Which isn't a big deal, but each time you "switch" to a different person, the instrument from the other band members gets duller in the background. It really makes the overall audio experience feel janky IMO. When playing the drums, I get to hear that awesome beat and clash of the cymbals.... but then I can barely hear the singer. But when I switch to another instrument, the drums get slightly muted and the other part of the song is loud. I suppose that makes sense since that's what it'd be like if you were really *in* the band, but... I dunno. I didn't dig it.

Jumping around from member to member was annoying too... but that was just me.

I think I just really like the peripheral for Guitar Hero: On Tour. That thing is awesome.

Posted by 
 on: 08/09/10, 23:31:10

I like the idea of the peripheral, but my hand doesn't like it. It cramped up pretty quickly (which is odd, because I don't have big hands). Still, the core gameplay was there.

I didn't mind switching instruments in LEGO Rock Band. In fact, the mechanic was fresh to me. My only beef is how many times I end up playing each song. I'm on the final vehicle now, and I've played each song at least three times (sometimes more for "Create a Setlist").

Both are good in their own ways. I can't speak for Band hero, but I like how LEGO Rock Band on DS handled it. I guess I would have liked to focus more on one instrument, but unlike the console versions, there weren't really any different mechanics for the instruments, you know?

Posted by 
 on: 08/10/10, 00:39:27
Yeah. I guess they could have used the mic for the singing aspects, but that would have changed how the game would have played.

Band Hero is pretty well done, but not quite as deep as the other music/rhythm games available. It's pretty much just arcade fun.

Posted by 
 on: 08/11/10, 00:38:54
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