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Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Wii Music

So, I got my 8-year-old nephew Wii Music for xmas, knowing that he was getting a Wii from "Santa". Recently, he made a deal with me to trade his copy of Wii Music for my copy of Super Mario Galaxy. Hmmmm. Errrrr... ok. (yikes.) I'm sure I'll see Super Mario Galaxy again, and I did want to try out Wii Music....

Wii Music has to be one of the least understood apps to come out in the last few years. People just don't get it. *I* didn't entirely get it. Bloggers & so-called game critics CERTAINLY didn't get it. So Wii Music suffered a critical drubbing & is considered by many so-called "hardcore gamers" as a failure of a game.

I'm not sure that Wii Music is a game in the traditional sense. Some call it a "toy". It sort of is, but it also has a small mini-game component to it. Unfortunately, a lot of people think that's the focus, when I don't think it's meant to be... so they end up disappointed & wanting more.

There are 3 sections to Wii Music: jams, mini-games, and videos. Videos are recorded jam sessions. Custom Jams are where most of the action is at. There's a list of songs you play along to, one instrument at a time. You are encouraged to play through a song with one instrument part, say, the melody, then go back & play through that same song doing the harmony part, & so on... each time you change instruments it will include your previous performance in the song, so eventually you can end up performing all the parts of the song & save a video of it.

It's weird... hard to explain it, but this isn't like Guitar Hero or Rock Band types of games. Those are basically Dance Dance Revolution played with your fingers instead of your feet. In those games you have to hit the notes exactly to succeed. Wii Music is more about improvisation. But Wii Music isn't entirely free-formed either. You can do a little bit of variation, but overall it sticks to the general song you're playing. The trick is to come up with something that is original & interesting in its own right, within the framework of the original song.

It really reminds me of those Casio keyboards, where you hit almost any random notes and there's backing tracks that "play along in tune" to whatever you hammer out.

Wii Music is clearly aimed at introducing people to music. You won't learn to read music here, but timing & rhythm are important (as they obviously are to music) I play guitar, and I don't profess to be awesome, but I don't really like playing Guitar Hero or Rock Band types of games because I'd rather be playing the tunes on an ACTUAL GUITAR... again, it's just DDR for your fingers. But Wii Music feels more like playing and understanding music than those games do. It's not as fast & furious as those games, so it's not as accessible, but if you want a rudimentary introduction to music, Wii Music isn't bad for that. Keyword being RUDIMENTARY.

All that said, I'm still not sure there's enough here to warrant the full price they're charging for Wii Music: $50.o0. I think it's totally worth $20.00, maybe even $30.00. Unfortunately, Wii Music is a first-party Nintendo game, and they are notorious for not dropping in price, no matter how much time passes. I wouldn't be surprised if Wii Music was still $40.00-$50.00 a year from now. Which is a shame, because at a lower MSRP, I think Wii Music wouldn't be so much-maligned as it is now and more people might give it a chance.


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