The gameplay is mostly typical Rhythm Game fare, requiring you to hit buttons in time with the displayed notes, but unlike most Rhythm Games, your errors are directly reflected in the sound of the music, because unlike most rhythm games, you aren't just hitting notes, you're literally playing the music. Not to mention being able to play any instrument within the song.
The game includes a song creator, which lets you create your own compositions and renditions of your favorite songs in MIDI format, allowing for a fully customizable soundtrack, supplemented by the 50 pack-in songs and DLC song server, allowing up to 50 songs (100 in the Japanese version) to be downloaded from Wi-Fi.
A 3DS version, titled Daigasso! Band Brothers P, was released in 2013 in Japan only. It added vocal support using Vocaloid technology, the ability to publish creations onto YouTube, and online play. However, songs available in-game require "tomatoes" to download. In December 2019, Nintendo took the game off of the eShop and online services for this game specifically shut down the following May.
These games provide examples of:
- Accidental Misnaming: Barbara writes down her own name incorrectly, as "Barbara the Boat."
- Copy Protection: JWTB and DBBDX have a copy protection system set in place that prohibits users running pirated copies of the game from downloading songs from Wi-Fi. Two years after the Japanese release of the game, and this still hasn't been cracked, and will likely never be cracked due to the nature of the copy protection.
- Deadpan Snarker: Barbara: The first time you save, she just says "This is going to take a while." When quizzing the player on their preference of genre, she may note that the player is trying to be attractive/doesn't seem enthusiastic.
- Downloadable Content: JWTB can save 50 songs in Europe, 100 in Japan.
- Easier Than Easy: Beginner mode lets you hit any button on the DS to play a note and even has a larger timing window.
- Forced Tutorial: You'll have to play Smoke on the Water on Easy along with a snippet of We Are the Champions once before you can really begin playing
- Expansion Pack: The original DBB got an expansion pack in the form of a GBA cartridge that added 31 more songs.
- Feelies: The Japanese version of the original DBB didn't have a normal manual, it had three posters that had the manual on the backside, and original print copies of the game came with earbud headphones.
- Gratuitous English The Japanese version of both games has Engrish ALL OVER THE PLACE.
- Level Editor: The song creator, of course.
- Little Bit Beastly: Barbara the Bat. While she does have the fangs, nose, and ears of a bat, she looks very human otherwise.
- Nintendo Hard: While some songs can be easy to moderate in difficulty, some songs can be downright impossible.