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PopStar Guitar has plenty going for it but its execution and style take away from what could have been a decent Guitar Hero clone.
Gameplay: PopStar Guitar has you playing as a member of a band. You can create your own band or choose from three bands that have already been created for you. One is a boy band, another is a girl band, and the last is a mix of the two. All the characters in the band look relatively the same, and no matter what band you choose, it does not affect the way the game is played. Customization of the band would have been an excellent opportunity for the player to express his/her creativity, but with the limited amount of choices available (I believe there were five girls and five boys with basic features to choose from), this “customization” feature is sorely lacking.
For playing the actual game, PopStar comes included with two devices called AirG which attach to your Wii Remotes. Basically it is a cheaper version of the guitars that would normally come packaged with a Guitar Hero game. Each AirG has four colored buttons that correspond to the colored “note” that come streaking down the screen. To strum, your Wii Nunchuck must be attached and you need to move the analog stick in any direction timed correctly to when you press the colored button on the AirG device. Interesting feature but it makes for some awkward moments later.
Your objective in the game is to increase the popularity of your band by obtaining fans. You can earn more fans by performing more concerts locally or making music videos and release them to the public. This is a neat feature that could have been expanded more. Instead it just becomes an excuse to play the same songs over and over again just to earn yourself more fans. The repetitive nature of gaining more fans just becomes annoying after a while. Furthermore, in the beginning of the game, only one song is available to you and it takes awhile to open more songs. So get used to hearing more and more of the same song again and again.
Graphics: Another area of this game that is sorely lacking are the graphics. They look bad and ridiculous considering Guitar Hero and Rock Band can create some pretty decent character models for a last generation system. This game looks like it was made when the Playstation 2 first debuted. It is simply unacceptable for a game to neglect its graphics this much. I know that a music rhythm game shouldn’t be concerned that much with its graphics but when the audience has nothing to look at but characters that look worst than Mii’s, then you’ve got a problem. In fact, where are the Mii’s? This game would have been great if you could import the Mii’s from your Wii! Another missed opportunity and a simple fix to what became a distracting problem.
Sound: This is about the only area that this game is good at. The music selection is great! However, you must like pop songs. There are no real guitar solos here. All the music selections are from classic to current pop hits. Most are from Miley Cyrus, Maroon 5, Jonas Brothers, and other popular bands. Broadsword did an excellent job of recruiting great talent for their games and getting the best licenses for their target audience. It is the only reason why the grade has a “+” symbol in front of it. Now if only they spent more time in the other areas of the game.
Control: Simply put, the AirG is a clumsy piece of junk and is no replacement to having an actual, simulated guitar controller. The AirG works fine for single notes, and moving the analog stick to strum is not a problem. However, when chords begin to appear, then pressing those buttons becomes harder if not impossible. First, those colored buttons are difficult to push down and are stiff. It takes a great amount of force to make those buttons click to register on the screen. When you have a chord of two, three, or four notes, you have to apply so much pressure, you feel like your fingers are going to come off. After a while, I got tired from pressing them in and just gave up. Secondly, the “home” and “+” buttons are in the middle of two of the colored buttons and they constantly get pushed when a chord comes on screen. The game will pause and ask if you want to resume and that just gets annoying when you are on a rhythm. Good idea with the AirG but poor execution.
Summary: Save your money and buy the real deal. Rock Band 2 and Guitar Hero: World Tour are a much better choice for your money than this low rated piece of junk. Even if you want to be a pop star, save your cash and be a rock star instead. You’ll find you got more music for your buck.