In an age where music feels like it is going through somewhat of a recession in terms of talent and innovation, one must try and hold on to every single shred of talent and genuinely meaningful musical expression that they can. This is exactly why I appreciate and enjoy the immense amount of talent involved in playing with other musicians, particularly in brass bands and orchestral ensembles. I also think it is a wonderful thing that the rise of interactive musical games such as Guitar Hero and Rock Band has catapulted the act of playing music (or at least playing imitation instruments in time to actual music) to international recognition. Playing Guitar Hero or Rock band has actually become somewhat of a social event for some, though the games really are restricted to the instruments of a typical pop or rock band, with drums, electric guitars, a bass, and vocalists. Thankfully, Wii Music is a piece of software for the Nintendo Wii that promises to deliver an all-round musical experience, but exactly how well does it do so and what instruments are involved? Well, this article briefly touches upon these subjects.
A Rocky Start
In spite of my excitement about a game that could have potentially brought an unprecedented level of musical and instrumental variation to families around the world, critics and players around the world have slammed Wii Music for its failure to deliver high-quality music and generally for being a little bit of a letdown. It isn’t the lack of musical instruments that let the game down though – this game has a total of 66 ranging from traditional to obscure after all – it is rather the lack of attention to the gameplay itself that has let Nintendo down substantially here. The problem with the game is that it really isn’t designed to challenge you in any real way. It seems it was simply made so that people can play along without really being difficult or punishing you for missed notes. This is really just musical creation for the sake of exactly that, and not to score hundreds of points by performing a complicated solo or two.
And that’s the main problem with both the game and with the critics’ reaction to it because this game is aimed at the casual gamers out there, though it has often been reviewed as if it was supposed to appeal to the hardcore gamers out there that simply want to be challenged at every turn and for their games to be seriously cutting edge. If you look at this game for what it is intended to be - a hugely fun experience where playing through songs is its own reward with no penalties or pressure – then it by far meets and exceeds its own modest criteria for being a great music game. Players get to play through a load of midi songs including some absolute classics from old-school games like Super Mario Bros, F-Zero, and Zelda, and it actually has more instruments than any othr musical game out there.
So can the immensely rich range of instruments save this game? Well, I don’t think that it needs saving in the first place, but real musicians will no doubt be impressed by the selection of different toys to play with. These range from the usual culprits like pianos, acoustic guitars, basses and bagpipes, but it does get a little outlandish at times. What I’m referring to here are the more unusual of the instruments such as the NES horn, Taiko drum, and even DJ turn-tables.
Don’t worry brass and orchestral musicians: your interests are more than covered by this game too. You’ve got a trumpet, some horns, a tuba, a flute, and a variety of percussion instruments as well. This is by no means a complete brass band substitute, but you’ll get more from this game than from Rock band or Guitar Hero.
If you want to read more about this game, check out this concise Wii Music review, which goes into a little more detail about the particulars of the game and looks at it from a different angle. In conclusion, however, this game’s selection of instruments is more suited to musicians than other interactive music games, though the lack of being challenged may be a problem for the hardcore gamers out there that are less interested in the music.