12 January 2010

LEGO: Rock Band (Wii Video Game)

First off, I want to say that I don't have much experience with these "rock star" games. I've only played Rock Band for a couple hours and I've never played Guitar Hero. So this review of Lego Rock Band is coming from a relative newbie to these games.

A reviewer on GameFly wondered what Lego has to do with music. I admit that Lego has about as much to do with music as with Batman or Star Wars. However, the Lego versions of these comic book and sci-fi games have set Lego up as a brand that parents can look at and say, "I know that game will be safe for my kids." That's why I rented the game. Even though my tweens and teens have already played the original Rock Band game, I thought the Lego version might have a playfulness that was more appropriate for 12-year-olds. What got was only partially satisfying.

As expected, the skill level in Lego Rock Band is dialed down a bit. I usually sing in these games, and I set the vocals on Medium only if I really know a song. In Lego Rock Band, I played many songs on Hard or even Expert. This is fine for a person who has never played a Rock Band game before, but it is a letdown if you have played the original game first.

The true letdown for me, however, was the tour mode. Since this game is aimed at kids, I expected a bit more of a storyline between songs but there wasn't much of one. There isn't one in Rock Band, either, but that game is mainly about playing the songs. Why do a Lego version if you aren't going to add something to it? At the end of each song, you earn all these little trinkets that go in the Rock Shop. They don't really affect your gameplay; they're just cute.

I think the subtitle for this game should be My First Rock Band. Give it to a 9- or 10-year-old who has never played the original game, if you can find one.

GameFly: LEGO: Rock Band Wii Video Game | Buy LEGO: Rock Band for Wii | Rent LEGO: Rock Band

11 January 2010

Boogie Superstar (Wii Video Game)

We just got our Wii for Christmas 2009, and I wanted to try out some games that would make use of the microphone we bought with it. My girls are big fans of rhythm games and music games. Boogie Superstar fit the bill for them.

The game uses a talent show format. Each talent show consists of three songs. The cool thing is that you can play whatever the game throws at you, or you can customize. That means you can have an all-dance show, an all-singing show, all solos, etc. So you can rent the game and try out the dance part even if you don't have a microphone.

The graphics in the game are pleasant. You have several teenage avatars to choose from, and they perform in several locations such as the red carpet, the dance studio, or poolside at a resort. At the end of each talent show, you earn coins that let you buy music packs. Each pack (pop, urban, or electro dance) contains a new dance move, a new outfit, and unlocks two songs. Only 12 songs are unlocked in the beginning, so this gave my kids the incentive to keep playing.

To me, the best part of the game is the dancing. It involves a lot of upper-body movement, and you can't just flick your wrist and score (a common criticism of Wii motion games). I played it with a broken foot and tried to stay in my seat, but my score was terrible! I'm not saying it is a great workout if you are already fit, but it will at least get your heart beating faster if you are normally sedentary and you throw your whole body into it. The avatars are fun to watch, too.

The main reason I rated it a 7 is that the songs won't appeal much to adults. I didn't even know half of them, but my 12-year-old daughters did. The song list is heavy with Jonas Brothers, Aly and AJ, and Hilary Duff covers. It got them off the couch, though, so I think it was worth renting.

GameFly: Boogie Superstar Wii Video Game | Buy Boogie Superstar for Wii | Rent Boogie Superstar

10 January 2010

Not Sure About GameFly

I know that I've only been subscribed to GameFly for a couple weeks (I haven't even gotten out of the free trial period yet), but I'm starting to have my doubts about the service. My biggest issue with it is the speed of delivery. I put my first two games in the mail on Monday and Tuesday, expecting to get my next two games by Thursday. I didn't get another game until Saturday; I still haven't gotten my second game yet. When I switch to the one-game-at-a-time plan, I'll be lucky to manage four games a month, and that is if I rush to play them on the weekend and put them in the mail by Monday.

Perhaps I am spoiled by having had a NetFlix subscription for several years. With NetFlix, I can put a DVD in the mail on Monday and have the next DVD by Wednesday or Thursday. That's because NetFlix has 58 distribution centers all over the country, as opposed to GameFly's four centers. I'm on the three-at-a-time plan with NetFlix, so it isn't unusual for us to go through 12 DVDs in some months. All this for $16.99. You can see why I might feel that I am not getting my money's worth paying $15.99 for the one-game plan at GameFly.

Outside of the speed, I think the service is pretty good. I enjoy the convenience of having games delivered to my door, and the selection is bigger than that of the video store down the road that rents games. I imagine that if I lived closer to Austin, TX or Tampa, FL (the two GameFly distribution centers closest to me) then I would get quicker delivery. I'm sure that my speedy service from NetFlix has something to do with the fact that they have a hub in Greensboro, which is only a few hours' away from me. So here's hoping that GameFly gets as popular as NetFlix and opens up a few more centers soon!