PopStar Guitar Review
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Available For: PlayStation2, Nintendo Wii
Reviewed On: Nintendo Wii


Ever since Guitar Hero first hit shelves (and, subsequently, disappeared from shelves in a very short amount of time), Iíve been fascinated by the musical video game boom. Still, after my husband and I finally managed to get our hands on a Wii console, we took a pass on Guitar Heroóbecause we didnít feel like spending the extra money on the extra accessories. Over a hundred bucks for a video game? No, thanks.

But with PopStar Guitar from XS Games, you donít need to worry about buying fancy toy guitars to play the gameóbecause this moderately priced game comes with everything you need. All you need is your Wiimote, your Nunchuck, and one of the two included AirG controllers, which snap right onto your Wiimote (you can even play without the AirG, though itís more complicated).

  
 
Once youíre set up, you begin by creating your own band. You start out smallóas a garage band with just one song in your repertoire (Simple Planís ďWelcome to My Life,Ē which youíll be unable to get out of your head for weeks). But as you practice, perform gigs, and build your fan base, you unlock new songs (by everyone from Fall Out Boy to Rihanna to various indie bands), new venues, and even new transportation.

To play along with the music, you position your fingers over the buttons on the AirG. As the colored music notes make their way down the fret board, you press the button that matches the note. Then you move the control stick on your Nunchuck to strum the note. Mind you, itís a whole lot harder than it sounds. Itís not always easy to position your fingers in the right place (especially if you have small hands, like I do). And simultaneously pressing buttons and strumming requires all kinds of hand-eye coordination (with both hands)ówhich, it seems, I donít possess. At times, Iíve also wondered if my years of piano lessons and band practice and choir rehearsals hurt me more than they helpedóbecause sometimes the music and the notes youíre playing donít seem to work together. So it might be easier to play if you can ignore the music and simply focus on the movement of the little colored circles.

But PopStar Guitar is about more than just music. Actually, itís more like a mix of a music game and a role-playing gameóbecause, as in the real music biz, itís also about the image. You can customize your band, choosing different musicians with different looks. Then, once you start making money, you can also buy your musicians better clothes and cooler instruments. As you get a cooler image, youíll also get more fansóand with more fans come bigger venues and more money.

Itís definitely not a simple game to play (and, after playing for a while, your fingers will inevitably go numb), but PopStar Guitar is entertainingóand highly addictive. Even though it is, for the most part, a one-player game (with a few two-player mini-game extras), fortunately, itís fun to watch while other players rock out, too. And, best of all, it makes a great pop alternative to other accessory-heavy music games.

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