Band-kun (バンドくん, loosely translated as "Mr. Band") is Koei's first attempt to create a music video game. It is the first title to be branded with the "Sound Entertainment" label, the other being Life is Music. Eiji Fukuzawa is the credited producer.
A MIDI board is required to run the game, which was a separate approximate 30,000 yen purchase for computers at the time of the game's initial availability. Many consumers were not willing to buy it and caused Band-kun to fade into obscurity, a flaw later acknowledged by Keiko Erikawa during Gitaroo-Man's press conferences.
The player is an aspiring musician. Their goal is to form a band to win prestigious music contests or competitions. Until the player's band becomes a financial success, a portion of the player's time must be spent attending to a part-time job to fund their expenditures. Minimum wage is determined by random RNG readings, making them constant if unreliable resource. Rumors regarding music trends and tips for practicing music may occur during the hours spent working.
Four band members must be recruited by the player by hiring people found in stores or studios. Each member requires a minimal percentage from the player's income. Ideally, the player can recruit people who fit their protagonist's focal music genre (rock, jazz, or classical). Players will often be informed whether a member is ideal prior to hiring them. Members can be replaced for whatever reason if their preferences.
Any performance, whether it be studio or on stage, requires the player to freestyle their performance. Click and hold the mouse to play a tone to a select background accompaniment. Pitches can be changed by sliding the mouse up or down the screen. Performances are judged based on the player's faithfulness to their selected genre, yet it is difficult to determine the game's rating system without trial-and-error. Good or bad performances rewards the player with a monetary reward. Recommendations from live house owners and different background compositions may be earned if the band scores well during contests. The player is realistically expected to build their band's social network in order to build their reputation.
Once the band gains enough fame and social networks, they can record their performances within a rented studio booth. The player can mix each member's performance before perfecting their arrangement. Cassette sales can become a profitable adventure if the band is famous and the recording's end ratings score high. These sales are a requirement for winning the global music competition.