Friday, January 23, 2009

Making Wii Music

Anyone who is a fan of the Wii has probably heard of Wii Music. It was one of Nintendo's showpieces at the 2008 E3. Previews and reviews were mixed, yet Wii Music got a lot of press. I very much enjoy other music video games, and I was excited to get to try this one.

Wii Music Overview
Wii Music has three modes, jam mode, lessons, and minigames. Lessons is a great place to start as it illustrates use of the wiimote, nunchuck, and optionally the balance board, to play various instruments. Wii Music definitely takes advantage of the flexibility of the controllers. Playing instruments often involves holding and moving the controllers in a way which mimics playing them in real life. Once you've mastered an instrument or two, it's time for a jam session. During a jam session, you perform one of the songs in the game, or do improvisations. Jams can have up to 4 players in each 6 person band. You get the option to add additional tracks by overdubbing. One person could play all of the 6 parts in a final recording, the parts would just need to be dubbed one at a time.

The minigames section has three games. In Mii Maestro you are now the conductor of the orchestra, and must keep it in time. Handbell Harmony is reminiscent of Guitar Hero. Bells scroll across the screen, and players must wave their wiimotes in time with their color bell. Pitch Perfect tests the player's musical skills, requiring the player to complete a variety of listening challenges in the time allotted.

My Impression
I can't say that I am overly impressed with Wii Music. I spent most of my time while playing thinking that the authors forgot that a good video game needs to be challenging. When playing the instruments, you only need to play in time with the song. To the best that I could tell, nothing I did changed the notes that were played. This is a huge difference from games like Rock Band, where a great deal of the challenge comes from both the timing and from hitting the right notes.

Players of other music games will probably find the Wii Music song list to be limited. 52 songs sounds like a lot, until you realize that only 13 of them are pop style hits. There are however 7 songs from various video game soundtracks for us gamer geeks. I particularly like the "Super Mario Bros." theme.

I had the most fun with the minigames. I found Pitch Perfect to be the right mix of fun and challenge. The two player mode did a great job of keeping both me and my husband involved, even though it had us taking turns rather than playing simultaneously. We played through a few levels, and still have some to go. Handbell Harmony is easier than Guitar Hero, but has the same fun spirit. We burned through the 5 songs pretty quickly though. It would be nice to have all 52 available in this minigame. I doubt I would win any honors with my conducting in Mii Maestro, especially since I kept holding the orchestra on long notes. Luckily the orchestra handled my conducting much better than Bugs Bunny's victim when he got to play conductor!

Conclusions
Gaming is one of my geeky pass times, music creation is not. I am not interested in changing the style of songs, overdubbing, or writing my own music. Thus those features are lost on me. If that sounds like your cup of tea, then by all means check out Wii Music. People are doing some cool things with it. You can see some examples in the videos posted on You Tube. (I like this one!)

The other place I think Wii Music would be a good fit is if you had a young gamer who found the other music game offerings to be too much of a challenge. Wii Music's jam sessions have much of the same feeling as playing a song in Rock Band, without the difficulty level and without the chance of failing the song.

Sometimes a game comes out that everybody seems to love. I don't think Wii Music is a candidate for this honor. It does have it's moments though :)

1 Comment:

Kiara said...

I came across to one of the site, but I couldn't remember the url, but it features the music in Download Games. Much to my amazement, most of the game music are pretty cool. Well I guess, music adds up to make the gaming fun.