Everybody has heard of ‘Guitar Hero” and ‘Rock Band,” but this fall, Nintendo has decided to take its own swing at the music-making genre of games. If you are one of those people who sit and hum tunes to yourself while working or wonder what it would be like to make a banjo and accordion Celtic remix of the Zelda theme song, then this game was made just for you.
The premise of ‘Wii Music” is simple and may even seem too simple to fans who are used to the long string of songs that just can’t be beat on ‘Guitar Hero.” ‘Wii Music” has no icons to tell you when to press what button. It doesn’t keep score. Think of it more in lines of your own little music sandbox where you can take the tunes they give you and mix them, remix them piece by piece and make them your own. It’s part improv, part building and a whole lot of fun.
For example, if we were to take any one of the songs in the game, we could break it down into six parts two percussion parts, bass, chords, harmony and melody. Then you can record each of those parts and go back and overdub yourself playing another part. Didn’t like how the Sitar sounded on that last rift? You can go back and record it again and maybe add some cow bells in the background. For music nerds, it offers almost endless possibilities to what can be created.
And that seems to be the only limit of ‘Wii Music”: how much you want to put into it. There is no real motive for making songs once you make the first few and unlock most of the tracks aside from making music. To those who enjoy it, this is no shortcoming. In fact, the ability to mix 50-plus songs with over 60 instruments offers so many combinations of instruments and songs that I wouldn’t even want to think about it.
This game isn’t about competition; it’s about musical creation, and, just as some people enjoy playing instruments and some would rather sit off to the side and watch, the same is going to be true that some people will love ‘Wii Music” and others won’t.
The game does allow you to save your creations and send them to friends online, and then these friends can take apart your songs and make their own additions, which only adds to the customization and creating that is available in the game.
That is not to say that ‘Wii Music” is without its problems. While Nintendo used mostly free realm music, which fits in the theme of having tunes that everybody recognizes, they skimped on their own library of songs. Between ‘Mario” and ‘Zelda” titles alone, there is a myriad of great songs to pick from and Nintendo songs make up a very small part of the selection.
Secondly, ‘Wii Music” also includes several mini-games as part of the package. One of them was something that excited me perhaps more than the rest of the game, and that was the ability to conduct an orchestra with the Wii-mote. If I slowed down, the orchestra slowed down. However, this mode only lets you conduct five of the games tracks, which could have been enlarged to include a much deeper conducting experience. But at least I got to conduct the ‘Zelda” theme. That alone might have made the game worth the purchase.
The main limit to the game is what you can come up with yourself. If you are willing to put work into it, you will find that the game is a fun and deep musical experience that lets you create songs in ways you never thought you could.
While ‘Wii Music” might not be for everybody, for people who are willing to give it a try, I think they will find themselves impressed with the fun that the game can provide them. It’s no ‘Guitar Hero” or ‘Rock Band,” but then again it isn’t trying to be them. It’s trying to be more. A few shortcomings keep the game from being amazing, however, but it also shouts for a sequel with a better soundtrack.
Clark is a member of the class of 2012.