Wii Music Wii
I remember listening to a debate a few years ago where people pondered that developers were much more creative years ago than they are now. The reasoning behind this was due to the limited toolset they had to work with back then, and the fact that they had to force themselves to create a workaround to get things to play out as they originally intended.
Playing Wii Music is somewhat similar to this, as Nintendo has developed an imperfect game that offers gamers a limited set of tools to work with. With this limited set of tools some will thrive and create something worth listing too, while others will make a dog bark out of time to the beat, get angry, call the dog a rude name, and stop playing.
Obviously, this off-tempo dog barking is not exactly what Nintendo promised when Wii Music was first announced, with the main PR line back then revolving around “everyone enjoying, playing and creating music,” or something along those lines. That however ends up being shockingly far from the truth, as no matter how much Nintendo wish it you just can’t simplify music that much. So, the act of replicating 50-or-so instruments by pressing a button or two or waggling your Wiimote is not going to cut it.
This oversimplification causes many problems, although none more destructive than the feeling of absolute boredom you get less than 30 short minutes after you start playing – as by then you’ve seen just about seen everything the game has to offer.
Like previous Nintendo published rhythm games, namely Donkey Konga, they have chosen to pick songs that cost little to no money. Because of this, a selection of public domain songs make up a big portion of the available tunes. I am sure this will be great for Nintendo’s profit margin, but in the interest of fun and longevity it is sacrilege. The rest of the songs are themes from Nintendo’s own games, which will be one of the few things that put a smile on the face of the Nintendo faithful, along with a few licensed songs transformed into MIDI based tosh.
If you were to treat Wii Music as an educational package, akin to Wii Fit and the Brain Training titles, it is a failure, as the game is simplified to such an extent you learn nothing from it. There are however a small selection of side games that reportedly teach you pitch and timing, but it is unlikely most will understand what they’ve tried to learn, as this portion has also being cut down way too much to be helpful. On the other hand, if you look at it as a toy, which I believe is how Nintendo view the game, then I guess there is some appeal – although I fail to see it keeping kids attention for more than a few minutes when Dora the Explorer is calling. She’s probably better than the educational aspect as well if you think about it.
As a medium to get people interested in music it does not make the grade either. When four people play together you’d expect there is some fun to be had, but Wii Music seemingly fails here too. In my personal experience the game cannot hold a group’s attention. The one time I got some friends to play it everyone dispersed very quickly, or asked to play something else. In addition, the low quality midi noises the game is built around are made to sound even worse with more players; the combination of sounds that comes from speakers when more than a singular person is playing is akin to a cat getting hit by a bus and getting dragged for a half a mile.
Viewed simply as a game, there is nothing on show to impress in Wii Music. You don’t win, and you can never really lose either. You can’t play a song wrong, and if you play something that sounds right then game does not register that you’ve preformed well. Because of this you never get any sense of satisfaction for doing anything asked of you. It’s like been told to push the red button by the nice TV presenter, but then nothing happens. It’s not a nice feeling!
Ultimately, Wii Music just feels highly unnecessary, and does a bad job filling a void what was never open in the first place. The scope of the game is just too limited to let you express yourself, and as a result you start to lose interest very quickly. On the plus side, I am sure a few select people will adapt to its limitations, and upload some nice iteration of the tunes to YouTube, but for everyone else they’ll sit back and wonder what all the fuss is about when they see a multitude of better options available in other areas.
Ultimately, Wii Music is the equivalent of Leonardo da Vinci saying he’ll paint the Mona Lisa for you, but then deciding to challenge himself by using a Etch A Sketch. Yes, I am sure the clever old codger could work out something, but you’re sure as hell not going to take a vacation to Paris to view the end result.
In the end, there are just so many other options out there, most that make Wii Music look archaic in comparison, and because of that there is very little reason to take a step down to buy it. If you want a game that lets you make music go buy the KORG DS-10 Synthesiser. It’s an amazing piece of tech shrunk down on a DS cart that allows you to be uber-creative without a host of restrictions blocking your imagination. If you want real music, then I am sure you’ll find some entry level instruments near the £40 RRP. If want a game that lets you mimic music, then go buy Rock Band or Guitar Hero. If you want to sing, then get Singstar or Lips. If you want something kid friendly, the get Elite Beat Agents. If you want to waste your money, then buy this.