Nintendo calls you stupid again
Wii Music : Apparantly, the next big thing.
Story : No story applicable. Other than “this game was a freaking joke when it was presented at E3 in all it’s hairy glory.”
But despite all that, Nintendo continued to proclaim that this was their big holiday game of 2008. Wii Music was going to follow in the footsteps of the absurdly popular Wii Sports, Wii Play and Wii Fit, whether we liked it or not. Well, the former two only became such unusual hits because of how they were bundled with hardware and became easy to love when played at short bursts at social events, prompting party-goers to yearn for a Wii of their own (and only to get sick of their new purchase minutes after.) I have no personal experience with Wii Fit, but I’ll give it the benefit of a doubt being that it has somewhat honest intentions (but make no mistake, as a certified personal trainer, I very much look forward to reviewing that fitness fad.) But with no bundled hardware, Wii Music has only the E3 video of doucheman to motivate people into running to their store to check in on the latest craze.
Perhaps I shouldn’t review Wii Music as Nintendo’s straight-faced answer to the likes of Gears of War 2, Resistance 2, LittleBig Planet, Fallout 3 and the like. Though doing so would result in me rating the game an “EPIC FAIL” out of five stars. No, maybe I should look at Wii Music’s potential for just straight up fun, for that’s what all games should aim for.
Except it’s still something of a failure there too.
So when you boot up the game, a very annoying instructor who looks like a hybrid of Bach and a Muppet, explains the game’s basic mechanics in a very long-winded tutorial that feels like he’s less trying to explain the gameplay mechanics as much as he is trying to justify the game’s existence. In a nutshell, you bang the Wiimotes to play piano and percussion instruments, bang one remote while you hold out another to play guitar-like instruments, bang the Wiimote horizontally to play violin, and alternate pressing the one and two buttons while supposedly holding the Wiimote near your mouth to play wind instruments. Imagination is the watchword here, as the game is banking on you closing your eyes and imagining yourself jamming in an orchestra to not notice that the remote only picks up the motion of the Wii moving in general. You’re essentially playing Guitar Hero without the five buttons and just the flipper; that’s what playing Wii Music is like.
The only instrument that grants the player control of what note they’re playing is drums. If you actually thought the E3 demo was impressive in its use of the Wiimote technology, well you’re in for a gross disappointment. You actually control what part of the drum you hit on by what buttons on the controllers you hold, not by some kind of sophisticated Wii controller technology. If you have the Wii Fit balance board, you could use that as a kick pedal, but that feels like such a petty use of a $90 adaptor.
Otherwise, all you’re really doing is moving remotes around and making loud noises. Unlike Rock Band, Guitar Hero, Dance Dance Revolution, Singstar, Amplitude, Frequency or any actual music game, you’re not trying to match notes with the song playing in the background. Rather, the game automatically matches whatever notes you’re playing with the song itself, with the sole variation being how many times you opt to play notes and make the song sound like more of a mess. I think “cluster****” is a good way to describe any composition you can conceive. Jam mode is the game’s main mode, where you and 5 other musicians play a song. The game gives you an unusual-yet-useless amount of variety. Unusual in that you can re-dub any instrument with multiple playthroughs, create an album cover, and record a full-blown music video that can be sent to other Wii Music owners. Useless because no one owns Wii Music and no one should announce that they own Wii Music. Also useless because, despite a large variety of instruments that includes everything from cow bells and “guy in a dog suit barking” to “galactic drums”, the audio quality of each instrument is so poor that when so many instruments are mixed together, they all blend together poorly and leave the song sounding like an old ring tone. Though I guess some people dream of creating their own ring tone version of “Wake me up before I go-go.”
I should talk about the setlist itself; a combination of classic music compositions, children’s bedtime songs, 60s-80s pop songs and Nintendo game theme songs, begging one to ask the question “why do I want to play these songs?” Nintendo did the exact same thing with the Donkey Konga games on the Gamecube, focusing primarily on free-to-use tracks. Other music games feature a hybrid of classic and contemporary hits, as well as often-solid tracks from little-known acts. Nintendo’s choice of music here comes off as the equivalent of Marge Simpson trying to fit in at Lollapalooza.
Wii Music isn’t a game, it’s a toy. One that should be marked as targeted towards people aged 3-5. Little kids might have some fun with Wii Music, but like any flashy toy, it’ll be quick to be discarded for the next big toy. Anyone with a semblance of an attention span will otherwise get bored of the game before the tutorial ends.
Pros : Mildly amusing mini-games. In particular “Mii Maestro”, where the motion of the remote dictates the gusto that the orchestra plays their music.
Cons : Only five songs for Mii Maestro.
1 ½ stars
Shiguru Miyamoto has apologized in the past, for claiming that Super Mario World and Super Mario Sunshine weren't up to par. The former I don't understand, the latter I kind of see why. But he should be busting out a U2-calibur "I'm sorry" parade to gamers for Wii Music.