Wii

North America

Wii Music

by Nick DiMola - October 21, 2008, 10:29 am PDT
Total comments: 19

7

Music to your ears, or a cacophonous mess?

Wii Music has been quite the discussion piece since it was first demonstrated at this year's past E3. Its presentation at the press event rubbed many gamers the wrong way and the floor impressions were no better. After extensively combing through the game, it's obvious that the game is not deserving of all the derision it has received, though it is far from perfect.

To save people the effort of reading this whole review, I strongly suggest that if you have no one to play Wii Music with, refrain from purchasing. As with Wii Sports, Wii Music is meant to be played in a group. Solo players will not truly enjoy the centerpiece of the game, Jam Mode, and will quickly exhaust the side games, Mii Maestro, Pitch Perfect, Handbell Harmony, and Drum Mode. However, in a group, players will greatly enjoy implementing the various pieces that compose a song.

Contrary to popular belief, Wii Music's Jam Mode isn't really about playing a variety of instruments. Instead, it's more about playing the various parts which comprise a song. Melody, harmony, bass, and percussion are the real choices, and each part can be played with an assortment of instruments. Surprisingly, the band cohesion required to produce a melodic rendition of a song is much greater than in Rock Band. If each band member is set on his own course that doesn't match up timing-wise with the rest of the band, cacophony is destined. However, if each band member can manage to play in sync with each other, the result is truly something to behold.

As players obtain a better understanding of what exactly is harmony, as opposed to melody, they can start using more of the advanced moves while mimicking the instruments to produce unique-sounding parts, making the game more challenging and fulfilling. The ability to then save performances, create album cover art, and share with Wii friends (who can in turn alter the rendition) extends alone play when the party is over. Players can also relax and create their own semi-random music in the free play mode with any given instruments, using tutes to fill in for the missing parts.

Mii Maestro mode and the Handbell Harmony mode complement the Jam Mode and provide a more game-oriented spin on the game's concept. In Mii Maestro, a single player will be graded on how well the orchestra is conducted, whereas with multiple players, the game will rate how close each of the performances are to each other. In either case, the mode's scoring system makes it quite fun to play, giving players a tangible goal to work towards. Handbell Harmony will instantly remind players of Donkey Konga (or Guitar Hero): players need to ring the two bells (the Wii Remote and Nunchuk) as notes pass over the markers on the left side of the screen. Regardless of the number of human players, the song is a four-part effort. Success or failure is immediately obvious as it is being played though a score is still assigned based on percentage of correctly hit notes. Unfortunately, while both modes are enjoyable, they have limited appeal due to the small number of songs available.

Players considering Wii Music should immediately discard any interest in picking up a Balance Board for the Drum Mode. Pressing the Wii Remote and Nunchuk buttons to hit different pieces of the drum kit is awkward and aggravating. I don't care what Ravi drum master extraordinaire says, Wii Music drumming is terrible and should've been scrapped during internal play-testing.

In contrast to the awful Drum Mode, Wii Music's presentation is actually very solid. The game uses your system's Miis in fun ways and mixes them in with the Henson-like tutes, another nice addition. Wii Music hits a flat note again, though, with its MIDI renditions of the songs. Though MIDI was a necessity to produce the desired experience, it seems as though better fidelity could've been included with some more determined effort. The song selection also leaves quite a bit to desire. None of the songs are particularly modern (or very good, for that matter), and the library is light on Nintendo tunes, which is a shame because they are the most enjoyable songs in the game.

It's odd to finally experience the infamous Wii Music. The game is a great learning tool for the musically inexperienced. It teaches rhythm and music composition, and helps foster creativity. Its focus is totally different from the more typical rhythm games, and it accomplishes its goal. However, the game is not meant for solo play and isn't really suited for the more musically apt, either. Players who are versed in music may find themselves quickly bored by the experience, as it retreads concepts they are already clearly familiar with.

Overall, if you were excited for Wii Music, you should not hesitate to purchase the game. However, those on the fence should wait for a price drop and pick it up as a formidable and unique party game to experience with friends and family.

Score

Graphics Sound Control Gameplay Lastability Final
9 5 8 7 7 7
Graphics
9

The game is presented beautifully with excellent Mii inclusion and a cool tute design that is reminiscent of Hanson puppets. As with other Wii titles, like Wii Sports and Wii Fit, the game's graphical presentation is simple, but fitting and perfect for the target family audience.

Sound
5

The low fidelity MIDI samples sound poor, and are quite distracting.

Control
8

If you've seen the instrument played before, you know how to play it in Wii Music. This fluid control scheme makes it easy for anyone to jump in and go nuts with any of the instruments. If anyone isn't certain of how to control an instrument, a nice tutorial at the beginning of the game ushers in even the unacquainted. The more ridiculous sound makers, like the dog suit, aren't immediately obvious how to control and take some experimentation. Drum mode is terrible and awkward.

Gameplay
7

The jam mode is great in a group setting but pretty lackluster otherwise, giving the game somewhat limited enjoyment. Mii Maestro and Handbell Harmony are fun, but the song selections for these modes are too limited to consider them a real asset.

Lastability
7

Like Wii Sports, players will be tossing this in their Wii for years to come whenever friends or family come over. Playing the game outside of such situations seems unlikely after a week or two.

Final
7

Wii Music is sort of a game, but it's sort of a toy, too. Real musicians and players without easy access to three friends or family members won't connect with the title to any degree. However, if you can gather a virtual band and rock out on a regular basis, Wii Music has the potential to be a very fulfilling and unique title.

Summary

Pros
  • A bunch of fun in a party setting
  • An excellent learning tool for beginners
  • Mii Maestro and Handbell Harmony Modes
Cons
  • Awful MIDI quality instrumentation
  • Drum Mode
  • No create-a-song mode
  • Playing alone sucks
Review Page 2: Conclusion

Talkback

GoldenPhoenixOctober 21, 2008

Sounds like the fairest review I've read yet about the game (either positive or negative).

D_AverageOctober 21, 2008

A 7.0?!  This is an outrage!!!

NWR HATES NINTEDNO!!!!111111111!1!!

Bill AurionOctober 21, 2008

Quote from: Silks

NWR HATES NINTEDNO!!!!111111111!1!!

I do believe this calls for a week ban for general wankery!

NinGurl69 *hugglesOctober 22, 2008

7.0 is the new 11.0!

Quote from: Bill

I do believe this calls for a week ban for general wankery!

LOL 7-Day Self Ban.

SchadenfreudeOctober 22, 2008

This review seems to fall right in between IGN and 1up; it's probably the more correct score.

DAaaMan64October 22, 2008

Is this gonna sell well?

It will initially on brand name alone. Whether it will continue to sell or not past the holiday season will depend on whether parents and the like enjoy the game and word of mouth spreads.

king of snakeOctober 22, 2008

"Cons: Awful MIDI quality instrumentation"

Nitpicking, but MIDI is a protocol used even in professional grade music equipment. It is not the crappy MIDI synth/instrumentation that comes with most sound cards these days.

Michael8983October 22, 2008

This is exactly the type of "it's good, not great" reaction most hardcore gamers had to Wii Sports and Wiii Fit and look how crazy the casual market went for them. I suspect Wii Music is going to take the holiday season by storm.

Yup.  It's a great product to toss your rugrats into a room with to keep them occupied for a couple of hours.  That's pretty much a guarantee of Christmas success.

Nick DiMolaNick DiMola, Staff AlumnusOctober 22, 2008

Quote from: Michael8983

This is exactly the type of "it's good, not great" reaction most hardcore gamers had to Wii Sports and Wiii Fit and look how crazy the casual market went for them. I suspect Wii Music is going to take the holiday season by storm.

No, just like Wii Sports and Wii Fit before it, this game is great, just in a particular setting. Wii Music isn't fun, at all, alone; however, in a group the game is absolutely phenomenal.

Quote from: king

"Cons: Awful MIDI quality instrumentation"

Nitpicking, but MIDI is a protocol used even in professional grade music equipment. It is not the crappy MIDI synth/instrumentation that comes with most sound cards these days.

The point I was trying to convey (did it better in the text of the review) is that essentially the MIDI samples used are pretty awful, and could've been more full bodied and elegant sounding. It's hard to explain unless you've heard them for yourself.

D_AverageOctober 22, 2008

Quote from: Mr.

Quote from: Michael8983

No, just like Wii Sports and Wii Fit before it, this game is great, just in a particular setting. Wii Music isn't fun, at all, alone; however, in a group the game is absolutely phenomenal.

Quote from: king

All age groups??

Nick DiMolaNick DiMola, Staff AlumnusOctober 23, 2008

Yes. Musical immaturity knows no age. If you have a bad sense of rhythm and seek to learn composition, Wii Music will be fun for you.

I think the only effect that age group would have is how long the game holds your attention.  I would guess that adult gamers might tire of it more quickly than children.

ShyGuyOctober 25, 2008

Have you seen the Miyamoto Kindergarten video? That is the most adorable thing ever.

NinGurl69 *hugglesOctober 25, 2008

This software is amazing.  Lurning musical nuances within the simplified control context is incredible.

DasmosOctober 25, 2008

Quote from: ShyGuy

Have you seen the Miyamoto Kindergarten video? That is the most adorable thing ever.

Except for their uniform. That is the most horrendous uniform ever.

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Wii Music Box Art

Genre Simulation
Developer Nintendo
Players1 - 4
Controllers

Worldwide Releases

na: Wii Music
Release Oct 20, 2008
PublisherNintendo
RatingEveryone
jpn: Wii Music
Release Oct 16, 2008
PublisherNintendo
RatingAll Ages
eu: Wii Music
Release Nov 14, 2008
PublisherNintendo
aus: Wii Music
Release Nov 13, 2008
PublisherNintendo
RatingGeneral

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