My family and I love Lego Rock Band on Wii, so we decided to try the DS version as well. If anyone's thinking about picking it up for some LRB fun on the go, here's what to expect.
It plays a lot like Rock Band Unplugged for the PSP: You play the entire band, starting with one instrument until you successfully complete a short section, which gives you a purple note. Hit the purple note, and all notes turn transparent for a couple of seconds. Transparent notes don't have to be played, giving you time to switch to another instrument. You have a lot of freedom over switching, so each play through a song can be completely different. In a smart touch, the game automatically slides you to the appropriate instrument for solo sections.
Stylus play is optional, but since the tutorial focuses entirely on button presses, I never tried stylus play for more than a few seconds. Using the button-press method is comfortable and responsive.
Less immersive than the console LRB, the DS version is simply a well-done, solidly produced handheld music game. Nothing more, nothing less, but a lot of fun. Due to its short track list (25 of the songs from the console version), I wouldn't recommend it for extended play sessions. This is portable, on-the-go LRB and is best enjoyed in that light.
PRESENTATION - Nice. The front end is awesome: You get the full animated opening cinema and a main menu that looks like a near-duplicate of the console version. During gameplay, your band is animated to match the music...more or less. The singer seems the most accurately synced. The drummer looks more random.
CUSTOMIZATION - A large amount of character creation parts, though not nearly as extensive as the console version. Very limited Rock Den customization. In DS LRB, Freddie Mercury and other guest stars can be chosen as your band members, but you can't change their look.
TOUR MODE - Mimics the console version with a few omissions: No farm venue, for instance. Much smaller, simpler-looking stages. Since you're going to be playing the same 25 tracks over and over again, I'd play this in short sessions. Good thing the songs are well-chosen.
THE CHALLENGES - Scaled way down to the point of hilarity. Here's how the DS Ghostbusters challenge looks: A single floating ghost spooks a stagehand (It's not doing anything scary...it's just floating there). You play the song. There are a few shots of the monster-themed characters, but it mainly focuses on your band. When you finish, the lone little ghost turns and floats away. That's the extent of your "ghostbusting." Challenges are fun to play, though: In this mode, the game automatically takes you from one band member to the next.
MUSIC - Decent sound quality: Headphones definitely recommended. All songs seem to be in the "short version" mode--No long instrumental finales here.
FUN FACTOR: The game plays well and it's a lot of fun. It's just not as insanely fun, charming, hilarious and addictive as the console version. It's a solid, enjoyable portable game.
MAJOR COMPLAINT: As soon as you start playing, you notice the game's biggest problem, and it's due to DS's layout.:Since all gameplay happens on the lower screen and all character animation takes place on the top screen...and since you really can't take your eyes off the note highway for more than a split second...you almost NEVER get a chance to enjoy watching your band. This single factor drains a good bit of the humor and charm from the experience. And, if you've played LRB, you know how important the humor/charm factor is to the Lego World.
So I'd recommend LRB DS, but only for what it is: a fun portable way to get a LRB fix on-the-go, during power outages, or when you just want to play a song or three without firing up your main console. Not bad at all.