Wii Music Review

  • First Released Oct 20, 2008
  • WII

Wii Music is fun and charming, but it's also simple and shallow.

Wii Music is fun. It's fun even though you don't actually play music. It's fun even though it's not really a game, and it's fun even though it's not a good value, either. Very young children (from 3 to 6 years of age) will probably get the most out of conducting an orchestra, waving controllers to mimick playing steel drums, and using their Miis to make a goofy arrangement of the Super Mario Bros. theme song, but even a group of adults can get a few hours of joy from Wii Music before the novelty wears off.

Yes, that's a NES controller being played.
Yes, that's a NES controller being played.

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There's a wide variety of instruments to play in Wii Music: drums, guitar, violin, trumpet, saxophone, timpani, harp, electric and upright bass, steel drums, banjo, handbells, and many more. Each of these instruments is played by one of four simple motions. Guitars are played by holding the Nunchuk as you would the neck of a guitar and then moving the remote in a strumming motion. Wind instruments are played without the Nunchuk; just hold the top of the remote toward your mouth and press the 1 and 2 buttons to change notes. You can raise and lower the remote to increase or decrease the volume. Violins are a little more complex; you hold the Nunchuk out from your shoulder and then move the remote back and forth like a bow across strings. Drums and keyboards are played by waving the remote and Nunchuk up and down. A more complicated drum set is available if you have a Wii Fit Board as well (it acts as a pedal).

Once the game's host is done driving you crazy with his gibberish, you're free to play some music. One of the more interesting things to do is jam with CPU-controlled musicians known as tutes. You start off alone, and as you establish a rhythm, you're joined by a percussionist, a bassist, and eventually a few other musicians. You don't have much control over what you're playing--though you can decide how often you play a note and add some flair by holding down a button--but somehow, some way, the results sound pretty good. If you want to play a "real" song, you can choose from a small list that includes a few familiar Nintendo themes and pop tunes, and then play along with them. You can do this alone or with up to three other people; if alone, you can go back and play each part so eventually every instrument is played by your Mii. Once you've finished a song, you can save a video of your performance, and (using a limited number of options) create your own album cover.

If you're looking for something a little more structured, there are three minigames to choose from, all of which can be played with one to four players. Mii Maestro places you in the role of conductor. It's your job to keep the orchestra together by moving the remote up and down in a steady beat. This is easy, but it's fun to go through the five available songs a few times. In Handbell Harmony, you're given a set of colored bells, one mapped to the Nunchuk and the other to the remote. When your color hits the time bar, you swing the appropriate controller, and voila, you're playing handbells. Given that you're able to speed up and even increase the complexity of each song, this mode does offer a fair bit of challenge. The last minigame is Pitch Perfect. This mode tests your ability to recognize different pitches. It starts off easy by asking you to pick which two instruments out of three are playing the same note, but as you progress, you'll have to put together four-note chords, arrange a large number of musicians in proper order to make a song, and other fairly difficult tasks.

Your parents will be so proud when they see you leading an orchestra.
Your parents will be so proud when they see you leading an orchestra.

That's about all there is to Wii Music. It's hard to explain, but there's a certain joy that comes from waving the remote around in a carefree manner and hearing the music that plays as a result. The game is charming and can be fun for short periods of time, but unless you're buying it for a young child, it's difficult to recommend as a purchase because older children and adults aren't likely to get more than a few hours of entertainment out of it.

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The Good

  • Wide variety of instruments
  • Easy to pick up and play
  • Fun

The Bad

  • Not worth full retail price
  • Gameplay is too simple
  • Not enough game modes

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