A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What parents need to know
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's it about?
A word of warning for Guitar Hero or Rock Band fans expecting a similar experience with Nintendo's WII MUSIC: you might be very disappointed. While you get access to 60-odd instruments, can play songs or "jam" with virtual musicians, and even record your performances for prosperity, this game lacks depth. However, young children and players who love fooling around with music might find the format intriguing, for a while.
You don't actually play any notes in Wii Music; rather you simply move the motion-sensitive Wii Remote or nunchuk controller to create musical riffs. Your movements create an improvisation to a song. There are five ways to play instruments: hold the Wii Remote and nunchuk like a guitar (with hands outstretched) and strum away; play the drums or piano by holding the two controllers like drumsticks (alternatively, you can play drums using the Wii Balance Board for your kick drum and hi-hats, but it's not an easy endeavor); a violin-like control scheme by pressing the B, C and Z buttons while moving the Wii Remote left and right; or trumpet- or flute-like control with the Wii Remote up to your lips and pressing the 1 and 2 buttons.
Is it any good?
For those used to playing the current popular music games where you "play" notes on musical instrument controllers, the play mechanic of Wii Music may feel dumbed-down. Rather than playing notes, you just move around the controls to simulate playing. Players may also find that the music quality and selection is disappointing. Instead of studio recordings, the music featured in the game is MIDI instrumental versions. The selection of songs to jam with doesn't include current music, rather players select from songs like Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, Ode to Joy, The Entertainer, Every Breath You Take, and La Cucaracha. There are also video game soundtracks from Super Mario Bros. and The Legend of Zelda.
Admittedly, Wii Music is more fun with up to four friends or family members jamming together in front of the same TV (each handling a different instrument). Plus, the ability to send a composition electronically to friends and family members who have the game (and who can then tweak the composition by adding new sounds) is a good idea. You can also partake in various mini-games, though some are better than others (sorry, but the one in which you conduct just isn't fun). While Nintendo tried to create a mainstream music game that anyone could pick up and play, it missed greatness because the notes are all laid out for you in advance and the music is a cheesy selection of poor quality songs. We tried Wii Music out with a couple of kid-testers and the game held their interest for only a short while.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about whether or not Nintendo really flubbed with this game. Or is it genius? Perhaps it was designed for children. Do gamers mind they're not playing any notes and simply must wave their arms to the beat? And will players care if these songs are not studio recordings but rather MIDI instrumental versions of classics?
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