Games: Nintendo turns motion into music
November 16, 2008
Making music is easy with "Wii Music" — probably a bit too easy for many gamers.
The new E-rated rhythm game was created by Nintendo for its Wii console. It uses the system’s motion-sensitive remote and nunchuck to re-create the basic actions used to make music with about 60 different instruments.
There are four basic moves. A strumming action is good for guitars as well as banjos and sitars. A two-fisted hammering action is used for drums, marimbas, bongos, castanets and most other percussion instruments — as well as a few non-instrumental selections, such as cheerleading and rapping. A sawing action, combined with a button push, is used for most stringed instruments. And holding the remote vertically and pressing the 1 and 2 buttons simulates most woodwind and brass instruments, as well as the bagpipes.
All you really need to do is make the appropriate motion at the proper time to create the correct note. You can also press a few buttons to get a little more from your instrument, but this is definitely not a very complex game.
However, the controls sometimes feel a bit soft and inexact. In fact, I found that I had much better results on guitarlike instruments when I switched from a strumming motion to a drumming motion.
A series of lessons teaches how to play each type of instrument and some basics about tempo and styles of music. These sessions are pretty tedious since the techniques are pretty easy to pick up, but you need to complete them to unlock most of the song list.
The game offers about 50 songs, ranging from classical music to ‘80s pop hits to Nintendo "classics," such as the theme from the Zelda games. It’s a very family-friendly selection.
The primary game mode consists of either quick or custom jam sessions for one to four players. In custom jam sessions, you select a customized Mii, a song, a stage and an instrument. Once the session starts, you can either rely on a group of bouncing thingamajigs or call up a simplified note guide that indicates when to make a motion. In quick sessions, the computer selects the song, stage and instruments, but you can always ask for a new lineup if it’s not to your liking. In other modes, you can conduct an orchestra, play handbells or play quick musical games.
Since it’s a pretty simple game, my friends who are "Rock Band" and "Guitar Hero" fans quickly lost interest. However, my wife and daughter, who are intimidated by the popular guitar simulations, found the game very enjoyable. They liked combining offbeat instruments to perform familiar songs.
Once again, Nintendo seems to know how to hit the mark with family games. Who says hard-core gamers should have all the fun?
Platform: WiiOn the Web: www.wiimusic.com