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The popular music magazine offers a simulated drumming game experience that doesn't quite keep the beat.

Nintendo Wii Review: Rolling Stone: Drum King

This Wii exclusive game concentrates on single player mode – play a gig (career mode), practice your technique, or edit your drummer wardrobe with different styles. The graphics look sharp and colorful providing some appeal in five venues – live houses, halls, arenas, stadiums and illusions.

The game’s title refers to difficulty and control scheme, as well as being an alternative, yet familiar title to a game that say, ends with the word “Hero”. The drums range from your basic tom, snare and bass to hi tom, lo tom, snare, cymbal, hi-hat and bass. Tutorials, combination bonuses and the optional metronome can help you find your inner rhythm.

Rolling Stone: Drum King has the same issues as Rock Revolution did – using cover songs instead of paying the licenses for the original works. The 30-song set includes hard driving modern hits like “Click Click Boom”, “All Star”, and “Feel Good Inc” supplemented with classics like “We Will Rock You”, “I Fought the Law” and “Be My Baby”.

The cover bands have talent, but when you’re playing a game where you must mimic the exact performance to succeed (from AAA grade down to F); you experience unexpected hiccups and tweaks, which teaches improvisation and quick adjustment, but also adds to the frustration factor.

You basically have to learn that beloved song over again, which is a daunting task because the pick-ups and control reactions are challenging enough plus the visuals often do not match the song. The timing adjustment function in the options menu can help give you a little buffer zone, but it's not enough for an overall improvement.

Using real wooden drumsticks can have the same feeling as playing baseball. If you don’t feel the impact of the bat it’s not quite right. There are still no games that simulate that bat whack, but Rock Band 2 and Guitar Hero: World Tour do offer those electronic drum kits, so players have come to expect that option.

However, Rolling Stone: Drum King is like Wii Music, in that only the remote and nunchuck controls are needed – there are no plastic drum kit capabilities here. This experience offers the effect, appearance, and physics of drums without the actual hits that tangible drum kits can provide for that realistic sensation. Drum King boasts that no peripherals are needed, which saves some bucks, but we are dealing with wants here, not necessarily needs. Players looking for that tactile experience will not find it here.

Control combinations are offered (two remotes instead of the remote-nunchuk combination), but a customization option considering right- and left-handed players would’ve been great. The left hand remote setting (drumstick hand) for the remote in the remote-nunchuk control scheme makes sense in the drummer’s scheme (the right hand is typically more active used for the hi-hat, cymbals and tom pick-ups so the lighter nunchuk is appreciated), but giving you the option to switch hands would be nice. The game could’ve featured the individual drummers more and offered customization options for your surrounding band members.

Two multiplayer modes, a double drum battle and drum battle, are competitive and co-operative respectively. Unlockable items include the songs, more detailed venues, and accessories. The price is right for this air-drumming extravaganza at $19.99, but the low replay value due to a limited song set and even more limiting controls/reaction times are so wrong. Even experienced drummers and music game veterans will experience too much adjustment and frustration instead of more fun.

Rolling Stone Drum King is rated T (Teen) by the ESRB for song lyrics.

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