Reviews

Wii Music

Where Miyamoto says you're creating music, you're actually just creating varying rhythms, stringing together eighth and sixteenth notes.


Publisher: Nintendo
Genres: Music/rhythm
Price: $49.99
Multimedia: Wii Music
Platforms: Wii
Number of players: 1-4
ESRB rating: Everyone
Developer: Nintendo
US release date: 2008-10-20
Website
Amazon
Developer website

Shigeru Miyamoto stands behind Wii Music. In an interview with GameSpot, the Nintendo stalwart said, "A lot of people start off in cover bands, but people can only go so far in a cover band. It's only when people start creating their own music and sharing it with others that they really grow." Such is the premise behind his latest creation, Wii Music. At this point though, Miyamoto's comments are a façade of glass-half-full optimism, an attempt to cut his losses rather than admit defeat.

Like a proud parent, Miyamoto's support of Wii Music is more or less grounded in his own sentimental attachment and wrapped in a sense of personal success and self-realizing genius, rather than being grounded in true world-changing innovation. The Nintendo-exclusive attempts to answer the overwhelming success of the multi-platform success of Guitar Hero and Rock Band. Unfortunately, though, this latest music machine is little more than a childish romp, poorly conceived and poorly executed.

A friend of mine recently commented that with the wild success of games like Rock Band, we were going to see an influx of kids picking up actual guitars. I argued the exact opposite: With the onset of these games, we're more likely to see people going out to "concerts" to see people play Guitar Hero on ridiculous skill levels. This is mostly due to how realistic video games are becoming and how integrated and tactile they are now. And while Wii Music is being billed as a way to make your own compositions, very little about this game inspires realism. Nothing is more symbolic of this than the prevalence of your system's Miis throughout the game -- it might seem like you're doing something, but it's really just a cheap imitation.

True to Miyamoto's words though, Wii Music is different than the music simulations of today's market insofar as you're not playing note-for-note covers of your favorite songs. The game is based on a few motions with the Wiimote and Nunchuck that are taught in an opening tutorial by a Napoleonic instructor. To play the piano, you swing your arms up and down; to play the guitar, extend the Nunchuck to where the fretboard would be and you strum with the Wiimote. The other playing types are similarly parochial and hollow. From here, playing different notes is a function either completely out of your control (as you smash your imaginary keyboard, the game simply plays different notes) or of intermittently pressing two buttons interchangeably (playing the guitar you're given only two different buttons to press, but the notes just keep changing).

It's because of this mindless "composition" that Miyamoto has played up so vehemently in Wii Music that the game feels like much more of a rhythm machine than a music machine. Where Miyamoto says you're creating music, you're actually just creating varying rhythms, stringing together eighth and sixteenth notes, mashing them into calculated rests in songs that have already been composed. You're not so much making your own music as bastardizing that of someone else.

The game does present an opportunity to play every part of a given song on the "Custom Jam" feature and save it to be sent to friends. This is the closest the game comes to actually allowing you to create your own music. The main problem is, without the ability to play any note you want, the game is simply taking the rhythm you produce and putting it as succinctly as possible into the already established melody/bass/rhythm parts. Imagine Beyonce or Mariah Carey singing the national anthem and doing a bunch of unnecessary runs and arpeggios. That's basically what you're doing with Wii Music.

The rest of the game, which is more or less just a collection of mini-games, encapsulates just about everything else you could think of. There's a game called "Perfect Pitch" where you hurry through 10 rounds of finding the Miis making the same sound, different sounds, matching harmonies, etc. It's a fun exercise at first and one that is somewhat captivating if only for your desire to have the high score, but it's ultimately little more than a half an hour's worth of fun. There's also a mini-game in which you play Chistmas bells to a number of songs, having to play on time and in rhythm (each player is assigned two notes, Wiimote and Nunchuck, and must ring their bell as it scrolls along like a Guitar Hero note). And there's a chance to play conductor and lead your own symphony of Miis by waving your arms in beat with a song, a practice that is frustratingly inaccurate and inconsistent.

In the end, Wii Music epitomizes everything that's wrong with the Nintendo Wii: It's overbearingly childish, hit-and-miss with its motion controls, and often poorly conceived. This game could almost certainly be a good teaching tool for showing young children rhythm patterns, but that's exactly what hardcore Wii gamers have come to fear. The ability to play your own beats (the percussion instruments are typically the most realistic and offer the most deviation) is enjoyable but the actual creation of new music is short-lived and somewhat falsified. When there are legitimate options on the market for a more realistic musical experience, Wii Music flounders in their success. Maybe someone should tell Miyamoto that some people actually do make it big in cover bands.

3
Music


Books


Film


Recent
Books

In 'Wandering Dixie', Discovering the Jewish South Is Part of Discovering Self

Sue Eisenfeld's Wandering Dixie is not only a collection of dispatches from the lost Jewish South but also a journey of self-discovery.

Music

Bill Withers and the Curse of the Black Genius

"Lean on Me" singer-songwriter Bill Withers was the voice of morality in an industry without honor. It's amazing he lasted this long.

Film

Jeff Baena Explores the Intensity of Mental Illness in His Mystery, 'Horse Girl'

Co-writer and star Alison Brie's unreliable narrator in Jeff Baena's Horse Girl makes for a compelling story about spiraling into mental illness.

Music

Pokey LaFarge Hits 'Rock Bottom' on His Way Up

Americana's Pokey LaFarge performs music in front of an audience as a way of conquering his personal demons on Rock Bottom.

Music

Joni Mitchell's 'Shine' Is More Timely and Apt Than Ever

Joni Mitchell's 2007 eco-nightmare opus, Shine is more timely and apt than ever, and it's out on vinyl for the first time.

Music

'Live at Carnegie Hall' Captures Bill Withers at His Grittiest and Most Introspective

Bill Withers' Live at Carnegie Hall manages to feel both exceptionally funky and like a new level of grown-up pop music for its time.

Music

Dual Identities and the Iranian Diaspora: Sepehr Debuts 'Shaytoon'

Electronic producer Sepehr discusses his debut album releasing Friday, sparing no detail on life in the Iranian diaspora, the experiences of being raised by ABBA-loving Persian rug traders, and the illegal music stores that still litter modern Iran.

Television

From the Enterprise to the Discovery: The Decline and Fall of Utopian Technology and the Liberal Dream

The technology and liberalism of recent series such as Star Trek: Discovery, Star Trek: Picard, and the latest Doctor Who series have more in common with Harry Potter's childish wand-waving than Gene Roddenberry's original techno-utopian dream.

Music

The 50 Best Post-Punk Albums Ever: Part 2, The B-52's to Magazine

This week we are celebrating the best post-punk albums of all-time and today we have part two with the Cure, Mission of Burma, the B-52's and more.

Music

Emily Keener's "Boats" Examines Our Most Treasured Relationships (premiere)

Folk artist Emily Keener's "Boats" offers a warm look back on the road traveled so far—a heartening reflection for our troubled times.

Music

Paul Weller - "Earth Beat" (Singles Going Steady)

Paul Weller's singular modes as a soul man, guitar hero, and techno devotee converge into a blissful jam about hope for the earth on "Earth Beat".

Games

On Point and Click Adventure Games with Creator Joel Staaf Hästö

Point and click adventure games, says Kathy Rain and Whispers of a Machine creator Joel Staaf Hästö, hit a "sweet spot" between puzzles that exercise logical thinking and stories that stimulate emotions.

Music

The 50 Best Post-Punk Albums Ever: Part 1, Gang of Four to the Birthday Party

If we must #quarantine, at least give us some post-punk. This week we are revisiting the best post-punk albums of all-time and we kick things off with Gang of Four, Public Image Ltd., Throbbing Gristle, and more.

Music

Alison Chesley Toils in Human and Musical Connectivity on Helen Money's 'Atomic'

Chicago-based cellist, Alison Chesley (a.k.a. Helen Money) creates an utterly riveting listen from beginning to end on Atomic.

Music

That Kid's 'Crush' Is a Glittering Crossroads for E-Boy Music

That Kid's Crush stands out for its immediacy as a collection of light-hearted party music, but the project struggles with facelessness.

Books

Percival Everett's ​​​'Telephone​​​' Offers a Timely Lesson

Telephone provides a case study of a family dynamic shaken by illness, what can be controlled, and what must be accepted.

Reviews

Dream Pop's Ellis Wants to be 'Born Again'

Ellis' unhappiness serves as armor to protect her from despair on Born Again. It's better to be dejected than psychotic.

Music

Counterbalance No. 10: 'Never Mind the Bollocks, Here's the Sex Pistols'

The Spirit of ’77 abounds as Sex Pistols round out the Top Ten on the Big List. Counterbalance take a cheap holiday in other people’s misery. Right. Now.

Film

'Thor: Ragnarok' Destroys and Discards the Thor Mythos

Taika Waititi's Thor: Ragnarok takes a refreshingly iconoclastic approach to Thor, throwing out the old, bringing in the new, and packaging the story in a colourful, gorgeously trashy aesthetic that perfectly captures the spirit of the comics.

Music

Alps 2 and Harry No Release Eclectic Single "Madness at Toni's Chip Shop in Wishaw" (premiere)

Alps 2 and Harry NoSong's "Madness at Toni's Chip Shop in Wishaw" is a dizzying mix of mangled 2-step rhythms and woozy tranquil electronics.

Reviews
Collapse Expand Reviews
Features
Collapse Expand Features
PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.