Band Hero is a spinoff video game as part of the Guitar Hero series of music video games, released by Activision on November 3, 2009 for the PlayStation 2, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, Wii and Nintendo DS consoles. The game is structurally similar to Guitar Hero 5, and supports full band play (lead and bass guitar, drums, and vocals) including the drop-in/drop-out and in-song instrument and difficulty change menus, and additional multiplayer modes as Guitar Hero 5. The console versions use instrument-shaped game controllers, while the DS version uses either the "Guitar Grip" introduced with the Guitar Hero On Tour series or a new Drum Skin that come with the game. Like previous games, virtual avatars of Taylor Swift, Adam Levine, and the band No Doubt are presented in the game.
Band Hero received mixed reviews from journalists. Some considered the game to be an appropriately flavored version of Guitar Hero 5 for the "Top 40" pop rock hits, while others felt the game was strictly aimed at teenagers. They also contested the cost of the full game, featuring only 65 songs compared with 85 songs in Guitar Hero 5, and considered if the content would have been better in downloadable form. A day after the game's release, the band No Doubt sued Activision, citing similar misuse of their avatars as the Kurt Cobain avatar in Guitar Hero 5.
The game is functionally similar to the features of Guitar Hero 5, including bands composed of any combination of four instruments, drop-in/drop-out play, in-song menus to change difficulty and instrument, and additional multiplayer modes compared to Guitar Hero 5's "Rockfest". Band Hero also retains the Band Moment and the Band Revival feature from Guitar Hero 5. Taylor Swift, Adam Levine (of Maroon 5), and the band No Doubt have been confirmed to be playable avatars in the game. Artists performed motion capture for their in-game avatars.
A new drum kit controller was introduced with the game. While it features the same five-pad design as the Guitar Hero World Tour drum controller, many changes were made to address weight and size concerns that made assembly difficult. The cymbal pads are more circular than the previous triangular shapes, and the stand's crossbar has been lowered to its base as to allow for the bass kick pedal to be supported by it. Some adjustment to drum head sensitivity has been made based on complaints from the World Tour set, and the game will include a sensitivity adjustment feature. In the United States the new controller will, for a limited time, remain exclusive for the Wii version of the game and will be packaged in the Band Hero game and instrument bundles. The Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 versions of the controller will arrive later; Band Hero bundles for these platforms in the US will include the World Tour drum controller. In Europe, Band Hero Band Kits will ship with new drums on all platforms.
A gaming device that folds in half with two screens on each half; the bottom half is fitted with a black skin with thumb-tip side round pads that sit over the units controls. The screens show a virtual drum kit on the bottom and a note highway on the top screen. The "drum skin" for the Nintendo DS Lite will be used to allow Band Hero players to simulate the console-based version of drumming.
Band Hero for the Nintendo DS will feature the ability to play the same instruments as the console-based versions. Though the game is compatible with the DS, DS Lite, and DSi, only players on the DS Lite will receive the "full band" experience due to the nature of the hardware extensions for the unit. Guitar and bass parts will be played with the same "Guitar Grip" previously created for the Guitar Hero On Tour series, though this unit will not work on the Nintendo DSi due to lack of a GBA slot. The gameplay for guitar and bass is considered to be the fourth iteration of the Guitar Hero On Tour design by developers Vicarious Visions, and have further improvements to meet with different strumming styles. A new "drum skin" that fits over the bottom half of the DS unit will provide four "pads" for drumming that map to the unit's directional pad and face buttons; this design was selected over use of the touch screen due to the inability of the touch screen to recognize near-simultaneous taps, a factor that would have interfered with the drumming experience. The drum skin is limited to the Nintendo DS Lite due to the skin's form factor. The decision to design towards the DS Lite rather than the newer DSi was due to the much larger volume of DS Lite units that have been sold relative to the DSi. The DS microphone will be used for vocal parts. The DS will have 30 of the songs from console versions. The game also supports up to four player multiplayer in a similar manner as Guitar Hero 5 using the DS's local wireless connections, allowing any combination of instruments. However, there is no support for the Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection nor plans for additional downloadable content for the DS game
A television advertisement, featuring Taylor Swift, Pete Wentz (Fall Out Boy), Travis Barker (Blink-182), and Rivers Cuomo (Weezer), was created for the game by director Brett Ratner in the same manner as previous ads for other recent Guitar Hero games, initially paying tribute to the scene in Risky Business with Tom Cruise dancing in his underwear to the song "Old Time Rock and Roll". Though it appears as if all four performed together, Wentz stated that Swift performed her parts separately using a green screen to impose her into the footage of the other musicians.
A three-song demo was made available on Xbox Live on October 15, 2009, and included "Paralyzer" by Finger Eleven, "Picture to Burn" by Taylor Swift and "Walking on Sunshine" by Katrina and the Waves. The demo was solely the Party Mode, with the three songs playable in random order.
2005 "A Million Ways" OK Go 01. Mall Of Fame Tour 4 Yes 1970 "ABC" The Jackson 5 02. Smoke & Water Festival 14 Yes 1971 "American Pie" Don McLean 11. Hyperspace 65 Yes 1996 "Angels of the Silences" Counting Crows 07. Everpop Awards 43 Yes 1981 "Bad Reputation" Joan Jett 03. Club La Noza 21 Yes 2009 "Back Again" Parachute 09. Paris 58 Yes 2004 "Beautiful Soul" Jesse McCartney 07. Everpop Awards 44 No 2007 "Believe" Bravery The Bravery 02. Smoke & Water Festival 9 Yes 1990 "Black Cat" Janet Jackson 05. Harajuku 34 Yes 2005 "Black Horse and the Cherry Tree" KT Tunstall 09. Paris 56 Yes 2003 "Bring Me to Life" Evanescence 01. Mall Of Fame Tour 5 Yes 2005 "Dirty Little Secret" All-American Rejects The All-American Rejects 03. Club La Noza 15 Yes 1982 "Do You Really Want To Hurt Me" Culture Club 01. Mall Of Fame Tour 2 Yes 1995 "Don't Speak" No Doubt 07. Everpop Awards 47 Yes 1988 "Every Rose Has Its Thorn" Poison 05. Harajuku 29 Yes 2008 "Fascination" Alphabeat 07. Everpop Awards 45 Yes 2008 "Gasoline" Airborne Toxic Event The Airborne Toxic Event 10. Amp Orbiter 61 Yes 2003 "Hands Down" Dashboard Confessional 08. Red River Canyon 50 Yes 2007 "Hang Me Up to Dry" Cold War Kids 01. Mall Of Fame Tour 1 Yes 1967 "Happy Together" Turtles The Turtles 01. Mall Of Fame Tour 3 Yes 1969 "Honky Tonk Women" Rolling Stones The Rolling Stones 04. Summer Park Festival 27 Yes 1968 "I Heard It Through the Grapevine" Marvin Gaye 02. Smoke & Water Festival 13 Yes 1979 "I Want You to Want Me" (Live) Cheap Trick 06. La Luz De Madrid 40 Yes 1996 "If You Could Only See" Tonic 03. Club La Noza 18 Yes 1983 "In a Big Country" Big Country 06. La Luz De Madrid 38 Yes 1995 "Just a Girl" No Doubt 09. Paris 59 Yes 2000 "Kids" Robbie Williams and Kylie Minogue 09. Paris 57 Yes 1974 "Kung Fu Fighting" Carl Douglas 08. Red River Canyon 51 Yes 2008 "L.E.S. Artistes" Santigold 03. Club La Noza 16 Yes 1983 "Let's Dance" David Bowie 01. Mall Of Fame Tour 6 Yes 2009 "Lifeline" Papa Roach 09. Paris 60 Yes 2007 "Like Whoa" Aly & AJ 08. Red River Canyon 52 No 2006 "Lips of an Angel" Hinder 02. Smoke & Water Festival 10 Yes 1983 "Love is a Battlefield" Pat Benatar 05. Harajuku 31 Yes 2008 "Love Story" Taylor Swift 04. Summer Park Festival 26 Yes 1983 "Mr. Roboto" Styx 04. Summer Park Festival 28 No 2006 "Naïve" Kooks The Kooks 10. Amp Orbiter 62 Yes 2003 "Ocean Avenue" Yellowcard 05. Harajuku 30 Yes 1964 "Oh, Pretty Woman" Roy Orbison 01. Mall Of Fame Tour 7 Yes 1981 "Our Lips Are Sealed" Go-Go's The Go-Go's 02. Smoke & Water Festival 12 Yes 2007 "Paralyzer" Finger Eleven 06. La Luz De Madrid 39 Yes 2006 "Picture to Burn" Taylor Swift 08. Red River Canyon 53 Yes 2007 "Pictures of You" Last Goodnight The Last Goodnight 04. Summer Park Festival 23 Yes 2006 "Put Your Records On" Corinne Bailey Rae 05. Harajuku 32 Yes 1982 "Rio" Duran Duran 08. Red River Canyon 55 Yes 2002 "Rock Star" N.E.R.D. 02. Smoke & Water Festival 11 Yes 1995 "Santa Monica (Watch the World Die)" Everclear 03. Club La Noza 19 Yes 2004 "She Will Be Loved" Maroon 5 05. Harajuku 33 Yes 2003 "So Yesterday" Hilary Duff 02. Smoke & Water Festival 8 No 1999 "Steal My Kisses" Ben Harper and the Innocent Criminals 04. Summer Park Festival 25 Yes 2005 "Sugar, We're Goin Down" Fall Out Boy 05. Harajuku 35 Yes 1999 "Take a Picture" Filter 07. Everpop Awards 46 Yes 2008 "Take Back the City" Snow Patrol 04. Summer Park Festival 24 Yes 2006 "Take What You Take" Lily Allen 03. Club La Noza 20 Yes 2006 "The Adventure" Angels & Airwaves 06. La Luz De Madrid 42 Yes 1997 "The Impression That I Get" Mighty Mighty Bosstones The Mighty Mighty Bosstones 10. Amp Orbiter 64 Yes 2001 "Turn Off the Light" Nelly Furtado 07. Everpop Awards 48 Yes 1985 "Walking on Sunshine" Katrina and the Waves 06. La Luz De Madrid 41 Yes 1996 "Wannabe" Spice Girls 03. Club La Noza 17 Yes 2008 "Warwick Avenue" Duffy 06. La Luz De Madrid 37 Yes 2002 "When I'm Gone" 3 Doors Down 06. La Luz De Madrid 36 Yes 1980 "Whip It" Devo 04. Summer Park Festival 22 Yes 1978 "YMCA Y.M.C.A." Village People 07. Everpop Awards 49 Yes 2008 "You Belong With Me" Taylor Swift 08. Red River Canyon 54 Yes 2004 "You Had Me" Joss Stone 10. Amp Orbiter 63 Yes
Band Hero has received mixed to positive reviews from gaming critics. Most recognized the game as having the same feature sets as Guitar Hero 5, including any benefits or flaws that may come from that. Reviewers praised the reuse of the Guitar Hero 5 features such as the Party Play mode that allows for players to jump in and out, the improved Career mode, and the improved GHTunes. Some identified that the target market of the game appears to be towards teenage girls, such as the featuring of Taylor Swift, the color schemes used in the game, and other parts of the song selection. Reviewers noted that setlist would be the strongest measure of whether players should purchase the game. It contains a diverse mix of songs, including some that reviewers think only teenage girls would appreciate. The reviewers also commented on the smaller setlist, which contains only 65 songs compared to Guitar Hero 5's 85.
Review did note that the "Top 40" songs do not always make for challenging songs, as many featured simple chord repetition throughout the song or simply following pre-programmed electronic keyboard or drum beats. However, most songs were found to feature at least one difficult instrument portion that would be fun to play. Reviews also noted that the censoring of songs in order to affirm a family-friendly rating is awkward, such as censoring the word "whiskey" from Don McLean's "American Pie" (8 times), and can ruin the enjoyment of some songs. Greg Miller of IGN further noted that these censoring are at odds with the straight-up inclusion of other songs such as "Gasoline" by The Airborne Toxic Event which, Miller claims, is about sex.
Some reviews saw Band Hero as a good addition to the Guitar Hero franchise, and pointed out the strength of the game is improved in part due to the ability to import and export songs between Band Hero, Guitar Hero 5, and content. Justin Haywald of 1UP.com, in consideration of the equivalent nature of featured, considered that players now had a choice of "'Top 40' Band Hero or 'Hard Rock' [Guitar Hero 5]" skins to select for playing the music on, and positive direction for the series. However, others saw the simple rebranding of the game, and that some may see the product as little more than a "full-price track pack".
The game has sold 596,000 units in North America through January 2010, according to data from NPD Group. Prior to the end of 2009, Activision had expressed plans to publish a sequel to Band Hero in 2010. However, as a result of overall decline in music game sales, in part due to the large number of SKUs released by Activision during 2009, such plans have been shelved, as Activision only plans to release continuing sequels to Guitar Hero and DJ Hero in 2010.  Lawsuit by No Doubt
A day following Band Hero's release, the band No Doubt filed a lawsuit against Activision. In a similar manner as Guitar Hero 5, where the avatar of Kurt Cobain could be used to play any of the songs in the game and leading to questionable virtual performances, the same was found to be true for the No Doubt avatars in Band Hero. No Doubt's lawsuit claims their contract limited their performance to the three songs within the game, and were never told their avatars would be used in that manner. Activision has stated they believe that the manner of use of the band's avatars in the game is within the bounds of their contract. The publisher has since filed a counter-suit against the band, alleging contract breaches; Activision claims that it was "publicly known" that in-game characters in the Guitar Hero series, once unlocked, could be used for all game modes, and that No Doubt's request came well after the game's code was finalized. Courtney Love, who has expressed to follow legal action for Cobain's appearance in Guitar Hero 5, said to NME that we will join No Doubt in their lawsuit against Activision.