|System: Wii||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Nintendo||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Nintendo||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Oct. 20, 2008||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1-4||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Everyone||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
When Wii Music first debuted at the Tokyo Game Show in 2005, not many people knew what it was. However, in the three years since then, we have learned a lot about this title, but even though it is widely available now, many people are still confused as to what, exactly, Wii Music is. Is it really a game? Is it the epitome of the casual gaming surge we have seen in the past few years? Wii Music is definitely an anomaly among games, and there is no clear way to really define what this game is using conventional methods. But before we launch into a debate about what is and isn't, lets take a look at some of the Wii Music basics.
Before you dive headlong into the game, you will be privy to a lesson by a funny little man in a wig. This character will explain that Wii Music is all about creativity and will show you the different control basics. Even though there are over 60 different instruments in Wii Music, there are only three different ways to control the instruments. The first way is the "piano" mode, which consists of holding the Wii-mote and Nunchuk horizontally and banging away at the air as you would a piano. You can use this control method for many other instruments, including percussion staples like the tambourine and the maracas. The second control method is "guitar" mode, which allows you to hold the Wii-mote as you would the neck of a guitar and strum away. The third method is the "drum" mode. This was demonstrated at E3 2008, but in case you didn't see it, you hold both controllers in your hand and bang away. If you own the Wii Balance Board, you can also tap your feet to control the kick pedals.
When you are actually playing the instruments, the game picks out the right notes for you, all you will have to do to play a song successfully is get the tempo correct. Although I say "successfully" a little hesitantly, because there is no way to gain points or ranking for any of the songs in the game. The game actually encourages you to play around with the tempo and get creative. There is no real measurement technique in the game, and in this way, Wii Music is very unique. While some would automatically classify it as a non-game because of the lack of competitive elements, there still is a little bit in this title left to explore.
The main "Jam" mode actually has some surprising depth if you take the time to get into it. On the surface, this mode is just a way to shake the Wii-mote while listening to the different songs and controlling the beat. However, there is a "Custom Jam" component of the mode that allows you to make your own musical arrangements. You can play your favorite tune with up to five different instruments individually, and then mix them together. Unfortunately, there are no equalizers or production tools, and because the music is in such a simple format, you won't be able to truly customize your personal sound. Still, if you are after a simple arrangement with your favorite instruments, this mode definitely gives you the freedom to create musical magic with a harp, a trumpet, a tuba, and an electric guitar, or whatever other instruments you prefer.
If you are not really into creating interesting musical arrangements, however, there is also a mini-game mode. This mode is actually pretty small and consists of three different mini-games, which involve conducting an orchestra, reading scrolling musical notes, and testing your musical knowledge. However, as you play these modes, the game will constantly remind you that the score doesn't mean you played poorly. As you play through the different mini-games, you will still be able to unlock new songs, instruments, and stages, no matter how well (or poorly) you score on the different mini-games. The game rewards you for simply playing the game, which is quite a departure from more conventional reward systems.
However, even though the game rewards you for playing, it just doesn't seem that there is much incentive past unlocking content to keep playing. Sure, waggling the Wii-mote around and listening to music for a few hours with friends can be fun, and playing the game's three mini-games can be amusing. But the fact is, the appeal of this game does not extend very long, and it ends up being quite boring after awhile. Because there is no score or competition, it is very easy to just lose your motivation for playing.