Review: Wii Music (Wii)

Grab yourself a WiiMote, it's time you became a maestro!

Miyamoto is Nintendo's legendary games developer, he's responsible for the majority of Nintendo's success over the past 30 years and proves a lot of people wrong time and time again. The release of Wii Music takes me back to earlier in the year, when Wii Fit was first released.

Wii Fit was demoed at E3 2007 and received a very mixed response from the industry with a lot of people questioning Miyamoto and wondering if the great man had seriously lost the plot. Having genius on his side has helped, Wii Fit was released and instantly became the hottest must have game of the time, it brought countless new customers both to Nintendo and the games industry as whole.

Wii Music on the other hand is Miyamoto's latest venture into the unknown, another game that was demoed at E3 and received a mixed response, people wondering what he was on about.

Personally I've not been swept away by the current, spreading music genre, the music game that is all about hitting buttons in exactly the right order at exactly the right time.

Those games aren't really about music the art form, its about rhythm, about code about button bashing. Music for me is a creative medium and currently there aren't many games that tap into that idea.

Wii Music is set to change all that, it's not Guitar Hero, its not Rock Band its something alittle different, its all about playing the notes you want to play, whenever you want to play them, some what the opposite to the conventional music game.

When you first turn on Wii Music you'll instantly recognise the now familiar "Wii Series" style, with Nintendo using the same styled fonts, menus and icons to other games in the range such as Wii Sports, Wii Play and Wii Fit, Nintendo's secret new franchise.

Nintendo clearly learnt alot from Wii Fit as Wii Music opens with the same format, your introduced to your 'guide' character, the musical maestri Sebastian Tute, who gives you the basics on how to play the game.

The maestro explains that there are four different methods of playing instruments in the game.

The first type is "Piano" for instruments you had to hit or press, such as Drums and Piano. This is simply holding the Wiimote and Nunchuck in separate hands and banging them up and down.

The next, second, type is "Guitar" used for all the different strumming instruments such as Electric Bass and Ukulele. Holding the Nunchuck out, you strum with the Wiimote to play in this style.

Third type is "Trumpet", holding the Wiimote up towards yourself, pressing the buttons to play.

Finally the "Violin" type is for the remaining instruments, holding the Nunchuck out and use your Wiimote as a bow.

Each of the actions plays the basic sound of the instrument, by holding different buttons and sometimes moving up, down, side to side will all manipulate the sound and simulate playing a slightly different note.

These 'loose' types fit most of the instruments well, it helps keep the game simple and yet still have a large number of instruments, there are over 60 in total, including a rather bizarre darking dog suit; yes its real.

Once you've had a go at each time you take part in your first jam session, where 6 band members all play together, each making up a different part of the song.

Jam sessions are the "meat" of the game, this is where the majority of what Wii Music is about actually happens. Starting a jam is easy, you can either jump straight into a random one or completely customise it to your own tastes.

First of all you select the number of players, choose a song, a style and then a stage/location.

Each player then chooses which of the 6 roles of the band they wish to play, they also get to choose which instrument to play it with.

Once the music starts its up to you to play notes whenever you want, the software makes sure whenever you play a note it fits into the general tune and therefore doesn't sound like a total mess.

There is a beat counter on-screen that helps keep your timing, you'll soon get the hang of it and begin to make your own tunes and sounds, quickly getting that feeling of creating something of your own.

Each jam session is "recorded", allowing you to save it and play back later. Whenever you save a jam session you also get to rate it and create a unique CD cover/jacket for storage in your video library.

Once you get the hang of one instrument you can go back to reply a song and choose to play a different instrument, you can do this again and again whilst the game keeps your previous jams, called overdubs, this allows you to play every single part of the song and really create something of your own.

You can make your videos slightly more interesting by pressing the four different directional buttons and cause your character to show off on stage, performing little jumps and spins all whilst the background lights up and reacts in time to your music.

On the side of this main mode there are lessons, games and your video library, all accessed by the main menu. Taking lessons is a useful way of finding out more about the controls, the different styles of music and everything else the game has to offer.

If you simply feel like finding out about all the instruments the instruments improv area allows you to do so, playing each instrument and seeing what different control actions do.

For those of you that did dip into the world of Wii Fit, Wii Music has a nice little bonus in the form of "Drumming mode", where you get to use your expensive scales, the Wii Balance Board.

Drumming mode is just an enhanced drums controls which allows you to use the Balance Board as drum pedals, giving you four way control. It's a nice little addition to the game and certainly shows how "virtual" controls of quite complex equipment is probably going to appear more in the future, Wii HD anyone?

Consumers do need to be careful when accessing Wii Music, like Wii Fit it's not really a game, its a hybrid piece of software come game. It clearly won't suit everyone and might loose the attention of alot of the 'hardcore' gaming community due to its need of personal investment.

Obviously there are also things that could be improved, the main issue is the amount of music to play, there is always room for extra songs. Wii Music comes with a mixture of public domain, Nintendo and real world licensed music.

Conclusion

Wii Music is clearly well made, well produced and certainly innovates. The game takes a massive emphasis on creativity, you can't win or beat this game, only play music as fast or slow as you like. There is no doubt this game expands the genre and will be welcome in alot of households this Christmas. It's worthy of praise for what it is and what it tries to achieve, but I warn you, it's not for everyone.