Datel Crossplay

(Nintendo Wii accessory, online price £15-£20)

For many a Nintendo Wii owner such as myself, being able to play many of guitar band games that are out there is an absolute must. Guitar Hero III is in fact one of the biggest selling Wii games that isn't made by Nintendo, and a lot of that is down to the fact it's bundled with a good guitar that lets you get playing straight away. In fact, if you live in the UK, a trip down your local HMV might prove to be useful as the Guitar Hero III guitar and game bundle can be yours for around £35 or so, which is what I did a few monts back.

So, you've got your Guitar Hero guitar and you want to use it on Rock Band. Ah, slight problem. The Guitar Hero guitars are incompatible with Rock Band, and vice versa, so normally if you wanted to play Rock Band, any of its song packs or the AC/DC Live version, then you'd normally have to shell out for a Rock Band guitar as well. As you can well imagine, that's a massive source of frustration for Wii owners. Rock Band 2 does address the issue and allows you to use the GH guitar, but what if you want to play Rock Band and rock out right now? Well, Datel's Crossplay may be the answer. Claiming that it allows the Guitar Hero guitar to work on Rock Band for the Wii (as well as turning your Wii guitar into one for Guitar Hero and Rock Band games on the Playstation 3 as well) was one thing. But.. as ever, the proof will be in the testing.

I ordered mine online from an eBay seller for around £15, but some online stores such as Amazon have it for around £20. Word of note: this accessory, for some reason, isn't even mentioned on Datel's own web site for some reason. I found that a bit odd myself, but maybe they're trying to get you to buy their own wireless guitars instead? The item arrived and it was in a small box. Inside there were two main component parts, as well as a single double sided sheet which served as the manual.

This is the main body of the Crossplay, which serves as the main wireless function. On the end of it, there is a standard Wii extension port so you can plug this into your Guitar Hero guitar as you normally would do. This way, these buttons face upwards on the guitar face to act like the Wii remote would do when used in Guitar Hero III. The back of the adapter takes two AAA batteries and although the build seems a little lightweight, it does serve its purpose well. I'll cover the buttons further in the review.

This is the other part of the Crossplay. It has a USB connector for connecting to your Wii or PS3, and the receiver has a slider switch which you can set to one of three settings. Most Wii owners will only ever need to set this switch to position 3, because that's the one you need for Rock Band. Positions 1 and 2 are for Rock Band and Guitar Hero games on the PS3 respectively, the idea being that you can use your Wii guitar with the PS3 (should you be lucky enough to own two consoles, of course.)

Setting up was a fairly simple process: the USB port of the receiver connects at the back of your Wii, although I wish the cable to the receiver was a little bit longer so that the receiver wouldn't be sat at the back. However, the switch seemed pretty robust and wasn't going to be forced out of place easily by a casual glance, you need to really slide it to go to the position that you want - and that's a good thing. Once that was done, and the body is plugged in to the guitar, you should all be then set and ready to switch the Wii on.

The instruction manual tells you that you need to switch on your Wii without a game inserted, and let it go to the Wii menu, then plug in the receiver. Once that's done, insert your Rock Band game of choice and start the game in the normal way. Of course, this is where there's a minor little niggle. You need to use the Wii Remote to start the game (fair enough) but that means that Controller 1 is taken up by that, so you can't use it for the guitar. When the game is then at its title screen, press the sync button on the Crossplay, and it should synchronise with the Wii, and in this case, the little LED above II lights up to indicate that player 2 is using the guitar. This of course does mean that for any Rock Band game, player 1 can't be the guitarist. It didn't affect play, but just something to note: it might be useful if player 1 is the vocalist (if you have a USB microphone to hand) and then multiplayer is yours.

As for operation during the game, well I had Rock Band Song Pack 1 on rental, so I thought I'd give that a blast. The guitar with the Crossplay responded very well, and indeed even allowed me to use lefty flip mode (which I tend to prefer as I play better that way) so that was all good. I tried a few songs to see how reactive it would be, and so gave Nine Inch Nails' "March of the Pigs" a go in quick play. The response time was spot on, the fret buttons and strum bar acted really well, and the whammy bar also worked fully as well too. Of course you can't tilt up the guitar to activate Overdrive (Rock Band's equivalent to Star Power), however, this is where the four function buttons on the Crossplay come in handy, marked F1 to F4

Depending on the game you're playing on the PS3, the buttons do different things, but on the Wii for Rock Band it's pretty simple: F1 activates the Overdrive, F2 toggles the use of the fret buttons as the solo buttons on the Rock Band Guitar, so you don't need to strum during the solo parts, F3 is the same as the Fender strat toggle, and F4 brings up the Wii Home menu (as if you're pressing the home key on a normal Wii Remote). It all worked as intended, although the layout of the function buttons inevitably meant that I waited till a long strum to activate the Overdrive (but if timed well, it cranks up the points). It proved to be pretty good all round and certainly did the job as intended to make everything work.

I do have another minor niggle. If during play you reach for the F1 button to activate Overdrive, sometimes by accident you'll knock the Sync button. Of course then the Crossplay tries to re-synch, in which case you are losing valuable rocking time and credibility on the meter. I got used to the button layout eventually, but the sync button needed to be somewhere where you wouldn't knock it so easily. However, I adjusted my guitar hold slightly and found a good way of sorting that out, so you may have to slightly adjust to find your best rocking position so you can easily hit F1. On the whole though, after trying it with a few songs, I did manage to get the high 90%s on easy mode, and on medium it was just as responsive in terms of sending commands out. It pretty much does what it needs to do on the Wii, but as I've not got a PS3 I couldn't try out the functionality of using the guitar on that format. However, the good news is that for Wii owners, if you don't want to buy a separate guitar, then this will work fine and allow you to use the good old white Gibson guitar from Guitar Hero 3.

If you have a Wii and Guitar Hero 3 plus guitar, then definitely this is the device for you - as it allows you quickly and easily to play Rock Band and all its associated song packs. Hopefully Rock Band 2 will be fully compatible with existing Guitar Hero instruments, but for those of you who want to rock out right now, the Crossplay is indeed a very handy little piece of kit to have for your Wii. Now, what about some Faith No More, anyone?

Warren's rating: 82%