Creating music has never been easier thanks to the new game Band Stars. Rather than trying to be like Rock Band or Guitar Hero, Band Stars is a simulation game where you manage a garage band trying to work their way up in the music industry. Making music is as simple as picking the genre, choosing an appropriate lyric type, and then assigning the different band members to what they do best. The entire simulation aspects align very similarly to Kairsoft’s Game Dev Story, just you’re making music instead of games. That isn’t necessarily a bad thing as Game Dev Story has such an engaging set-up that is simply an outstanding simulation experience that makes you care about the success of your studio.
Band Stars does an excellent job of replicating the engaging nature of Game Dev Story to get you invested in making better songs. Everything you do fits into the cycle of making songs to make money to upgrade band members and equipment to make better songs, more money, and better upgrades. What really makes the game last is that you always feel like you can make better songs as you can train up your band members, hire new players, and pick better combinations of lyrics and genre. Also, you get to assign different band members to the portion they’re best at whether it’s writing, playing particular instruments, or mixing the result. You also have the ability to perform solos to give a big boost to particular part of the song.
Each song is scored based on five merits with writing, creativity, rhythm, melody, and polish, and the final score will indicate the debut chart position. It’s easy to get a baseline, and see where to improve to then assigning your training and new band members accordingly. There’s a lot of personality infused into the band members, recording studio, and the song performance to make you care about keep coming back. You also get to hear little riffs of each song type when the band is in session. Game Dev Story focuses on gameplay with rudimentary style, while Band Stars infuses in polish to the familiar quality simulation gameplay. There are so many potential changes you can apply to your band, and there’s also a continuous supply of challenges to keep things fresh.
Once you create your first song, you will be hooked to keep improving your band, and that’s what you’re looking for in a free to play game. Speaking of which, you can earn coins, inspiration, and energy drinks at a good pace to make the in-app purchases relatively optional. The coins let you unlock new items, the inspiration works for solos, and the energy drinks help fill the energy of each band member. Since success is tied intrinsically to coins, you’re focused on earning it, and you can earn inspiration and energy by just dragging your band members to different items in the studio. Everything is designed to make the entire experience friendly for quick pick up and play that is endearing. There are nice simulation complexities, and yet it’s effortlessly managed through the intuitive set-up.
Band Stars (Free, Universal) is a great iOS simulation experience that is ready for you to rock out to.