Band Stars isn’t quite the music management game you’ll want to sing along with
It was inevitable that someone would eventually attempt to replicate the glorious management action found in the super-popular Kairosoft mobile games. Since the very beginning when Game Dev Story got our creativity pumping, the Story series has been a phenomenal source of entertainment.
The idea, then, of a great team like Halfbrick (Jetpack Joyride, Fruit Ninja) tackling the publishing duties on developer Six Foot Kid’s Kairosoft-style management game is very exciting indeed. But while Band Stars may sound like a match made in heaven, it turns out to be a rather shallow click-a-thon that contains more bugs than your back garden.
You have started a new band, complete with every pop, hip-hop and rock stereotype going. Each of your band members has specific talents, be it in creativity, singing or with an instrument. By choosing specific genres, lyrical styles and song mixing, your goal is to create the best singles that you can, shoot up the charts, and collect lots of money and fans in the process.
You’re given a general outline of what achievements to aim for via a mission-based system down the left-hand side of the screen – a popular interface mechanism in modern social browser games. These missions will spur you on to train your band members, raising their specific stats; earn set amounts of cash and fans; and collect Inspirado, special points that allow your band members to perform solos during recordings.
The general layout of the game and the way in which you push forward is very reminiscent of the aforementioned Game Dev Story, in that you create a song, watch it climb up the charts, and then it do it all over again.
However, there’s one key element that all Kairosoft games contain that is completely missing from Band Stars – depth. Other than creating songs and training your band members, there really isn’t much else to it. You can hire more musicians and upgrade your recording area with new items, but overall it’s a pretty shallow experience that didn’t exactly grip us.
In fact, nothing about Band Stars is very addictive at all. When you’ve written a song, your band members will need to recover their energy. This takes time, or you can pay real money to buy energy drinks. At no point did we feel the need to buy drinks, as we simply didn’t care about waiting a while to go again. You can also buy items that speed up the process, giving you double money or letting your hire as many musicians as you want, but we didn’t feel the need to divulge in these either.
It’s not just the gameplay mechanics that are an issue – Band Stars is a seriously buggy game. It’s notable that the game is still only in the beta stages, meaning that when it is fully released, the devs may well have solved all these problems. However, we’re used to playing beta versions of games, and quite honestly, this is one of the most bug-riddled we’ve ever seen.
Sometimes the game refuses to load at all; other times it will tell us that we need to refresh the browser halfway through making a song. The music doesn’t appear to work at all which, for a game about music, isn’t so sharp. It’s also awfully laggy throughout – for example, if you drag a musician someone on the screen, sometimes they will hang in place for a few seconds before finally coming to rest where you wanted them.
To top it off, the social elements are a bit pants. You can grab musicians from your friends’ bands and have them sing on your own tracks, and there are online leaderboards, but that’s about it. We weren’t exactly blown away.
It’s a huge shame that Band Stars is such a letdown, as it had the potential to be something great. It’s worth giving a play for an evening just to see exactly how it missed the mark, especially given that it’s free-to-play, so it won’t cost you a penny to find out.