Review by mycroftholmes10

Reviewed: 11/10/08

Wii Music, Music Interperator

Wii Music is a very hard game to understand from videos or secondhand oral or written impressions. It is one of those games that needs to be played.

I would some this game up in word word : interpretation. Read on anyway, if you like.

This game is all about putting your brand and style on any given song in the play list, you do what you like : goofy, serious, inspired, it is up to you. At first glance you might think the song list is very odd, (check a Gamefaqs FAQ or the code section for a full list, if interested.) and may be even more surprised that only a handful of Nintendo made songs are in the game. There are a scattershot variety of pop songs, a handful Nintendo songs old new, including Super Mario Brothers, the Zelda Main Theme, and a very nice selection of classical and folk tunes. But Nintendo does nothing by chance, as expanded game play in this game teaches you…

. Well I can tell you this, simple songs that some have blindly flinched at, such as Twinkle Twinkle Little Star are there to teach you the game. You need a simple song to learn about the potential of this game, that is to say being able to play up to six parts in a song (melody, harmony, chord, bass, percussion, auxiliary percussion), and DO something with it. The game has a nice learning curve, you start out with only a handful of these simple songs, and making videos unlocks advanced lessons, and completing the advanced lesson unlocks the song library in two major parts for you to enjoy and master the game, according to your creativity and ability.

Thankfully, it does not take long for you to gain your full set of music making tools and expanded song list, as you decide for yourself if your lessons went ‘well enough’ to continue on, and if your videos are ‘good enough’ for you to keep. YOU must dig deep into your own personal creativity, and rely on your rhythm skills to put together your masterwork!

First you choose a song, and choose a location - simply a backdrop for your music video, a very Nintendo-ish collection of varied locales, done in the new aged Mii style of graphics, such as outer space, a drive on the beach on the back of a flatbed truck , on top of Music Mountain, (bringing to mind the very lovely Julie Andrews - ohh, I have another Mii to make - err, never mind, back on task….)

Now that you have a song, you choose a style. Several styles are represented, march, pop, rock, classical, etc, and when you choose that style your band is automatically preloaded with ‘Toots’ - a tiny, (so as not to upstage your Mii’s) Muppet-like musical troupe. They play a logical preset selection of instruments that fit your chosen style of music, and play it straight up, to the letter. Now it up to you to spice things up, don’t let them have all the fun!

Next you pick a tempo, every song defaults at it’s normal tempo, and you can speed it up or slow it down to fit your interpretation, or maybe your rhythmic skills.

Now the fun begins. The game gives you a wide variety of instruments to play, and even if you choose classical style, you are not beholden to use only classical instruments, - load up on electric guitars if you like, or a bagpipe, or even a ‘rapper’ - your Mii with suddenly hilariously enlarged hands decked out with gold rings, spouting Japanese styled catchphrases in tune with the music. Major lulz, here. Use all of the six parts if you like, or not. Make it simple, make it complex, perhaps wait until the climax of a song to add certain instruments, or cut one out at a key time for dramatic effect.

You see, once you pick a Toot to supplant, you play their part, with the remaining preloaded Toots backing you up. If you decide you need structure, push the minus button on the wimote to give you a note guide, in addition to the tempo blocks, who keep time at the bottom of the screen.. If you are familiar with the tune, or have a good idea of what you want to do, you never need to turn on the notes, play it by ear. I think it is telling that this game DOES NOT hold your hand on this matter, in fact you have to manually turn on the note guides every time you play a part, if you want the note guide. Nintendo is telling you to live a little, be non-linear!

But at the same time the game IS linear - the part is always playing on - you can hold a note, or staccato a note, but you are not rewriting the music. This may sound like a contradiction, but it is not, by practice, trial and error, and hopefully an ear for music and some sense of rhythm, you can do very unique and enjoyable things.

After you play the part to your satisfaction, you can save a video, and/or record another part of the song. Let’s say you completed a percussion part, now mess with the chord part, and so on and so forth, until you are satisfied with your work. Sometimes, if a part is too difficult for me to play well, I just let the Toot do it - but it is still my song, because I screwed with the percussion, or found just the right instrument and interpretation to make a very interesting chord or harmony section.

You can save up to 100 videos, so your creations are always there for you to mess around with. Simply preload it into the jam session and now you are free to fiddle with it again , and save it, enjoy and compare your variants. This is a fun game to play with others for this reason - to see what they did on a given song compared to you. You can send songs over the internet to other Wii Music owners, and mess with their work as well - save it, send it back - show them how it is done!

The controls are excellent - there are four basic styles that fit most of the instruments, and all use very tight motion control - you pound with both hands to play piano, strum to play guitar, whack to play drums, you get the idea, it is all very intuitive and you are left to the mercy of your own rhythm skills - God help me, my greatest handicap in this game! But as I have said, rhythm is only half the battle, without creativity and a desire to mess around with a game you are better off playing Guitar Hero, this will not be your bag. Killer rhythm skills are obviously a huge plus, but are NOT the point of the game - there is no ‘scoring’ here - you grade yourself by deciding what to keep and show off. Which is of course the toughest game to master of all.

The Mii integration is also top notch - it is surreal to see your Miis become musicians, the rendering of the instruments is perfect compliment to the Miis, a very clean and iconic look, simple and gratifying.

As far as the music selection goes - there is something for everyone - I personally would give the classical/folk/public domain section an A+ (From the New World, Minuet in G Major, Scarborough Fair, etc) the Pop section a B (Chariots of Fire!. the rest it is fine, just not my I-pod, lol) and the Nintendo section a C. But don’t worry, if you can find ANYTHING it that list to get excited about, ) you will have many hours of game play in this game.

I have described the meat and potatoes of this game, the Jam Sessions, but there is some added content as well, namely a ‘Pitch Perfect’ mini game that lets you fine tune your musical ear, a Hand bell section that lets up to four players don their dainty gloves and cooperatively make music in time with their parts, and of course the pre launch ‘face’ of this game - Mii Maestro. Mii Maestro gives you full control of an Mii Orchestra, very hilarious, and by your motions and force you lead these musicians down whatever path you - the all powerful conductor- choose. This is very hard to do well, for me at least, as I have yet to score much more than 70. I was not cut out to lead the Boston Pops, I guess. A small part of the game, but enjoyable non the less.

The last feature is the ability to review and send and receive the Music Videos you and your friends create, corny as it may sound, it is very enjoyably to watch your top 10 videos play on, and the entire time you are thinking, ‘Now what could I do here to make this better….?”

And that, my friends, is the magic of Wii Music.

Thanks for your time.

Rating:   4.5 - Outstanding

Product Release: Wii Music (US, 10/20/08)

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