When Shigeru Miyamoto stood on stage at this year’s Nintendo E3 media conference and demonstrated Wii Music, the audience didn’t know what to make of his performance. This is the man that has delivered some of the most memorable gaming experiences in history, is the creator of Mario, and probably the most famous game designer that has ever lived. Yet when the demo of Wii Music was complete, we wondered what exactly Nintendo was trying to accomplish with this seemingly shallow, casual music project.
Now that we’ve spent a good deal of time with Wii Music ourselves, we’re confident in saying the following: If you have young children, buy this game and enjoy it with them. It’s obvious that Wii Music is firmly targeting this demographic and we have few doubts that it will be a major commercial success, especially as we’re ramping up towards to the holiday season. However, it’s very safe to say that gamers who prefer the likes of Rock Band, first-person shooters and Solid Snake’s espionage antics will not care about Wii Music in the slightest.
Does the game accomplish what it sets out to do? We think it does. The premise is extremely simple: you can make music with anyone and everyone even if you’ve never even looked at an instrument in your life. We found ourselves enjoying the overall experience more when we played with our kids at home and far less when we were playing on our own. Grinding through some of the easier, basic songs was only of interest so we could unlock more songs, instruments and stages. Wii Music is definitely best enjoyed in the company of others.
You get to play over 60 different instruments (all of which are MIDI quality) and can select from more than 50 songs which range from extremely simple (Twinkle Twinkle Little Star) to classical overtures and even some classic Nintendo theme tunes such as The Legend of Zelda, Super Mario Bros. and F-Zero. Unlike Guitar Hero or Rock Band, you are not actually trying to match and hit notes on the screen. Instead you use the Wii controllers to simulate strumming guitars, banging virtual drums, or pressing buttons on a digital sax. Gameplay is extremely simplistic. You can’t lose. It’s not a competitive sort of game at all, and in fact, there’s no right or wrong way to create your own melodies. One to four players can participate in the different game types.
The Jam mode is broken down into instrument improv, quick jam, and custom jam. Improv lets you test out instruments on their own without musical accompaniment, while quick jam randomly selects a song and a stage backdrop for quick access. Custom jam lets you choose everything from stage selection, song choice and musical parts (melody, harmony, percussion, etc.)