Unlike most games, there is no right path to play and experience Wii Music. The game works more like a tool to understand music theory and foster some musical creativity. The learning is not done through some sadistic music teacher, but rather the game introduces you to the basic mechanics of different instruments and underlying concepts of music to set you on your way. The game starts with about 20 different instruments to test drive and as you progress with ongoing lessons, games and challenges, you are able to unlock more. The process is quite fun for a person such as myself with limited or no music ability and seems like a great way to introduce children to musical instruments that they would otherwise never be able to experience in real life
Basic instruments such as piano, drums, and the violin are all present, but it gets interesting with selections like a sitar, djembe, or taiko drums. For some laughs you can "play" a dog or cat suit (your Mii barks or meows while in full costume), lay some beats on a DJ turntable, beat-box, or just be a goofy cheerleader shaking your pom-poms. There is quite a bit to do with Wii Music and it gives more dimension to the actual music, unlike Rock Band or Guitar Hero, which pretty much just have you hammering away at the keys over and over.
When getting to the actual music, the main mode is called the "jam sessions" where you get to choose what place you want in the band (bass, percussion, melody, etc.) and play dozens of songs from simple stuff like "Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star" to some rock n' roll and pop classics like "Mr. Postman" or "Material Girl." What's nice about this game is that you are not graded for your performance like in Guitar Hero - you're free to play however you like. Wii Music does a great job of making the notes played work intelligently and make sense. To play well, you need to work on rhythm, timing and gusto. The lesson mode does a great job of teaching music and slowly gets into the advanced concepts of the art form. On the down side, the game could have used better quality sound in its presentation and is mostly geared to kids. But that said, I had a fun time with it. With yet more sequels to the popular Guitar Hero and Rock Band coming, this seems to be a fresh direction in music games. In choosing to keep things simple, Nintendo has made a game that puts a new spin on interactive music and at the same time keeps it fun for the whole family.
Rated: E for Everyone. Platform: Nintendo Wii. Retail: $49.99