Given that the Wiimote handles all the real work in Guitar Hero for the Wii, it’s a bit ridiculous that an extra first-party guitar shell costs just $30 less than the actual game, which comes with its own guitar. Thankfully, Nyko’s FrontMan offers a somewhat cheaper Telecaster-shaped option. But, for fifty bills, it’s not much cheaper than Activision’s Les Paul controller and with a slightly differed feel, it may cause arguments during multiplayer gaming.
Aside from its Telecaster shape, the FrontMan’s aesthetics are a bit drab. The white model comes with removable black and pink pick guards, while the yellow model includes black and white guards. The Wood-colored plastic on the non-removable neck attempts to add some realism, but just makes the guitar look more like a kid’s toy.
Still, the FrontMan is a passable substitute for thrashing on the Wii. The somewhat rounded fret buttons aren’t loose and the contacts feel solid. In testing, there were no missed notes and the strummer control felt the same as on the Les Paul controller. The FrontMan’s larger whammy bar is actually an improvement over Activision’s controller, offering more pitch-bending play for those long notes.
There’s nothing overtly wrong with Nyko’s FrontMan. It’s just a different controller and a game like Guitar Hero requires a level playing field or else your friends are going to blame the guitar when you out-shred them in battle mode. The FrontMan is lighter than the first party axe, and while the fret buttons are good, they have a different play and the smaller plastic bump on the yellow center button makes it harder to orient your fingers while keeping your eyes on the screen.
When it comes down to it, the more someone’s played with the Les Paul controller, the more they are going to miss it, and the longer their adjustment period is going to be. If saving $20 is worth that frustration, or if your Telecaster taste makes you desire the the FrontMan as your primary Guitar Hero controller, Nyko’s offering is an able alternative. Otherwise, for the paltry price difference, and the amount of whining it’s likely to cause among your friends, you’re probably better off spending the extra cash on a first-party controller. That, or get cooler friends who own their own ax.