Short Thoughts on Wii Music After Playing it for About 3 Hours

Yesterday, Nintendo dropped off a copy of Wii Music on my doorstep. If you’ve read anything I’ve written about the game, you’ll know that I’m not enthusiastic about it, nor was I looking forward to playing it. That said, I wanted to review it for Kombo because there was in me a small but persuasive enough curiosity in the game. Specifically, I was interested in what made it special. After all, if legendary game maker Shigeru Miyamoto felt the idea for Wii Music was enthralling enough to pursue developing it, then surely there must be something special about the game, right?

I’ve only played Wii Music for about three hours, but thus far, I’m struggling to find much enjoyment from playing the game. That said, it is, at least, slightly deeper and more complex than I once believed. After its showing at E3, everyone in the industry assumed that there was no more to Wii Music than shaking the Wii-mote and looking stupid while doing so. Surprisingly, there’s a little more depth to be had (but you still look silly while playing). The key word in that sentence, though, is “little.” In addition to shaking the Wii-mote and nunchuck to make music, you can adjust the pitch, tune and sound of the song you’re playing by holding down specific buttons. This allows for some creative control over the song, and there’s even something mildly pleasant about tweaking songs in this manner as you play them. Thus far, I’ve noticed that the tweaking is most dramatic with string instruments, like the violin and guitar, but you can adjust the sound of other instruments too. Unfortunately, although I can appreciate the added depth of these mechanics, ultimately, Wii Music’s instrument controls feel shallow.

When you first boot up the game, you don’t have many songs to choose from, so the Jam mode quickly becomes boring, unless you’re really into Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star. So, I explored the Games mode a bit. Here, you’ll find more competitive modes, including the famous orchestra mini-game first seen at E3 2006. Other modes include Handbell Harmony and Pitch Perfect. In Handbell Harmony, you aim to time your Wii-mote and nunchuck shakes with bell-shaped icons moving across the screen — similar to Guitar Hero or Rock Band, in fact. Pitch Perfect, meanwhile, offers many challenges, from arranging musical tunes in the correct order to recognizing specific sounds, such as the highest or lowest frequency notes. The mode is similar to something that you’d find in Wii Play, and likewise, it’s surprisingly okay. Overall, the same can be said about the Games mode as a whole. But simultaneously, there’s something underwhelming and even meager about it. A lot more could have been done with the mode.

As of this write-up, I’ve only spent a few hours with Wii Music, but thus far, I have yet to discover anything special about it or a reason why Miyamoto spent his time making it. Other than being able to tweak the pitch and tune of your instrument as you play, you’re just waving your hands around to progress each song. The faster you wave your hands, the faster you play. That’s essentially the Wii Music experience. I’m going to spend a lot more time with the game over the next few days, but if my time with it so far is any indication of things to come, the coming hours will be unexciting.