Oct 20, 2008
Wii Remote, Nunchuk, Balance Board
Wii Music has achieved a certain amount of notoriety since its slow unveiling over the past year or so, being immediately labeled a ďkidís toyĒ and a cheap knock off of most other rhythm games. And with its recent release, it has been accordingly panned by most game critics. After picking up the game as an after thought (I had some extra money and my family was really interested in it), Iíve come to a very different conclusion.
Wii Music is really unlike anything Iíve played before, and is difficult to review. I canít really disagree with such complaints as it being skewed younger, or the inevitable comparisons to other games such as Guitar Hero or Rock Band, which Iím sure were catalysts in Nintendoís conception of the game. But at the same time itís really none of these at all.
When the game starts, you are greeted by the gameís musical instructor, Maestro Sebastian. Heís what the game calls a ďTute,Ē which is like a weird hybrid of Mii/Muppet/Musical Genius. He then takes you through a very lengthy tutorial explaining all the gameís different control modes and ends with letting you jam for the first time. Despite the kind of awkwardness of the intro, I think it makes a great first impression. It did on me at least. I got the same sort of novelty rush that I did the first time I played Wii Sports
, like we had entered some new amazing era of gaming. Of course, the game isnít this, but itís more than a step in the right direction, and is an infinitely better game than Wii Sports.
Gameplay is divided between the four main menus: Lessons, Games, Videos, and Jam. Lessons range from teaching you the gameís basics to surprisingly advanced musical composition. Games are basically mini-games, including the orchestra baton game that has been seen in some trailers. Videos lets you organize, view, and share your Wii Music Videos that are recorded from your Jam sessions. And finally, Jam itself is the gameís main focus. A band of up to six members (four being you and anyone else with a Wii Remote, the rest being computer controlled) team up to take on one of the gameís fifty plus songs.
Wii Music Video menu.
This is of course the gameís main selling point, and is not at all what I expected. I had heard that you donít actually choose which notes to play, which is true. You basically move your Wii Remote in the corresponding motion to the instrument at the right time, and the correct note will play. There are some variations to this, such as holding down the A button while playing to give off a different sound, but itís all optional. Even the onscreen notes that tell you when to play are optional, and in fact can be toggled on and off with the ( - ) button. That brings up what I wasnít expecting in the slightest, which is the ability, and even encouragement to deviate from the songís set course. The game does not punish you for playing ďincorrectĒ notes, leaving the songís feel and direction ultimately up to you. You are still confined to a pre-set list of notes, but the option and freedom to decide which notes to play and when is an exciting and fresh aspect of gameplay.
Wii Music is srs bizness.
The game is also much more musically trained than any other rhythm game Iíve ever played. This includes Guitar Hero and Rock Band. The game teaches you about the different sections of a song, about what the melody or bass do and why theyíre different. I felt closer to the actual experience of making music than I have in any other music game because of this. When playing with your band mates, whether they be actual people or the game-controlled Tutes, in order for the music to sound good youíre going to have to play off of them, harmonize and interact with what they are playing to liven a song up or bring it down. It really stresses rhythm and musical unity over hand eye coordination. The ability to play a song in different styles (such as reggae or jazz) and add or remove instruments also lengthens and enhances the experience. Itís all much, much deeper than the media has led us on to believe, and can be a lot of fun.
I don't have a Balance Board so I can't vouch for doing the Ravi. But I heard it sucks balls. :/
But as fun as all this and Wii Music is in general, there are of course problems. Quite a few. The song selection is terrible. There are about 15-20 songs I enjoy, which really isnít anything new, I usually only like a small portion of the set lists in other music games anyway, but this is Nintendo weíre talking about. When I heard there were over 50 songs, I was expecting over 50 Nintendo tunes to jam out to. Wrong. There are about 10 Nintendo songs total, which was a fatal, fatal error on Nintendoís part. The other songs arenít bad, and I really like a few of the covers, but they all have been Wii Music-fied, and have a really dumbed-down, blippy sound to them. Almost like they were all recorded in midi. This is why an all Nintendo soundtrack would have been ideal, because most of those songs actually were
recorded in midi. Instead we get a synthesized version of O Christmas Tree. Nintendo yet again went for marketability over a polished game experience, and it more than shows in the song selection.
So few enjoyable songs really brings down the longevity, and ultimatley onesí interest in the game. There really wasnít all that much to do to begin with, and depending on your taste in the gameís music, there could be even less. The mini games and lessons are fun while they last, but once you unlock all of the songs (which doesnít take long) thereís really no reason to play them. The biggest problem with the game, and part of the reason for all its other problems, is the price tag. Fifty dollars for a game like this, which is in actuality more of a musical education toy rather than a game, is just too much to ask of the consumer. Thirty dollars would have been a more appropriate price. Wii Play without the Wii Remote was that much, and it was fair. I donít see any other Wii Remotes lying around my house after purchasing Wii Music.
All in all though, Wii Music is a fresh, fun game to play. Itís hampered by Nintendoís casual over core mantra and the price of admission, but if you go into it with a casual mindset you should have a good time. Give it a shot, rent it for a weekend. Youíll be surprised at how much it has to offer, and at the very least the game's extremely catchy theme song will have you bouncing around for days.
Rent first. May warrant a purchase.
You done okay buddy.