Disney joins ‘Band’ wagon

Plans unveiled for 'Guitar Hero'-esque game

Disney Interactive Studios is joining the battle of the bands.

Mouse House’s videogame unit on Tuesday unveiled plans for “Ultimate Band,” a new music simulation it plans to launch in the fall that will compete with “Guitar Hero” and “Rock Band.”

Unlike those two successful titles, however, “Ultimate Band” won’t come with any new guitar- or drum-shaped controllers. Instead, it will use the motion sensing capabilities of the existing Nintendo Wii controller and the touchscreen on the DS. “Ultimate Band” is being released exclusively on the two Nintendo consoles.

“We thought we could do a very compelling music title just using the mechanics of the Wii controller,” said senior game designer Derek Dutilly. “We think of it as more of a game and less of a simulation.”

The DS version is based on the same technology Disney already used for a “Hannah Montana” music game on the handheld system.

After the huge success of “Guitar Hero,” which generated the most revenue of any videogame franchise last year, and a solid launch for “Rock Band,” the music gaming genre is getting particularly competitive this year. Activision is developing three “Guitar Hero” games for release in 2008, while MTV is presumed to be making a “Rock Band” follow-up for the holidays and THQ is developing a new title called “Band Mashups.”

Disney is hoping to stand out with more family friendly gameplay and song selection, a different visual interface and lower cost since it won’t require any peripherals.

Songs already confirmed for “Ultimate Band” include “Steady as She Goes” by the Raconteurs, the Who’s “My Generation” and “Fell in Love With a Girl” by the White Stripes, all of which will be covers.

“Ultimate Band” is being developed by Fall Line Studio, a development house Disney Interactive Studios founded in 2006 to make games for DS and Wii.

It’s the second original title that Disney Interactive Studios, which is attempting to expand beyond licensed games, is launching this year along with stunt racing game “Pure.” Other games on its sked include a new “High School Musical” game and an adaptation of this summer’s “Prince Caspian.” It is also expected to make a game based on Disney animated feature “Bolt,” which comes out in November.

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