When a new craze pops along, the gaming industry will jump on the band wagon just as much as other industries. Trombone Champ was a wild success and meme generator at the end of 2022 and Disaster Band in many ways is the lower budget knock off version of it. Ordinarily, that would mean you wouldn’t initially bat an eyelid at it but Disaster Band has gone about its unique selling point differently. It brings along multiplayer and Steam Workshop access to make this copy-cat a very intriguing prospect.
Disaster Band has four instruments – the recorder, trombone, cello and violin. They all play the same and the control idea is identical to Trombone Champ. Notes scroll in across the screen and you move your mouse up and down to match them, clicking and letting go to play each note. Instead of being inverted controls, Disaster Band keeps up as up and down as down so if you plan on getting both games, it’ll take a few moments to readjust your brain. I found Disaster Band’s controls easier to play with though and Disaster Band’s scoring and note recognition feels a little more forgiving too. The cheap doodle graphics are endearingly budget and meme worthy too and the music is played from MIDI files. Playing a note off key is ear bleeding but one of the curious things about this game is that even when you hit the note correctly, it still sounds a bit off. This got more annoying the more I played as it made me feel like the music wasn’t really ever going to sound perfectly in tune. I hope this gets sorted over time.
Two big features distinguish Disaster Band apart from Trombone Champ. The first is multiplayer mode which is sadly online only. I wasn’t able to test it as I couldn’t find a random person to play with but this game is ripe for local multiplayer stupidity. I was quite disappointed it was missing to be honest but in the screenshots it looks like each instrument can have its own note track. If that’s the case then this is a major plus for the game and aligns it more with Rockband. It also makes local multiplayer almost compulsory. The second feature is the Steam Workshop integration. You can browse the songs, subscribe to them and they’ll appear in your song menu. These come with the MIDI file, a backing video and the note track and whilst some are not quite in tune or very weirdly tracked, others are really well done. As of review, there’s already over 30 songs available and I really hope this easier way to share songs propels a community forward as the game only comes with 7 songs at launch. The lack of content and focus on community driven content is a daring one and I hope it pays off.
Both of these features make Disaster Band stand out from Trombone Champ and make it a worthy standalone buy if you love this craze of games. I would say that Disaster Band needs to sort out its tunefulness and a few crash to desktop bugs before this becomes a hearty recommendation but the promise is definitely here. With a bit of polish and some sturdy content, it’ll be worth your money and time.
Review copy provided by developer. Disaster Band is out now on Steam.
A solid start but there is an over reliance on the steam workshop to generate content that means you are committing to a shell of a game to start with and hoping the community (or you) will pull through.
Steam Workshop is a fantastic feature and the community seem to be creating a decent amount of tracks.
Controls aren't inverted which makes playing easier than Trombone Champ.
Multiplayer looks fab (although its online only so couldn't test it).
Limited initial content.
Never really sounds in tune, which is annoying.
A few game crashes.
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