Wii Music review

  • 60 instruments, including "dog" and "cat"
  • You can record yourself
  • Classic Nintendo themes
  • Little reason to keep playing
  • Lame song list
  • Poor sound quality

Publisher Nintendo’s own master creator Shigeru Miyamoto proudly declares that the company’s “play along with the band” offering Wii Music isn’t really a video game, so much as it is an interactive toy. He’s right, too. And that’s exactly what makes Wii Music tough for a devoted gaming site like GamesRadar to review and bewildering for a seasoned gamer to play.

Fundamentally, it’s similar to any other rhythm game. A song plays, and you pantomime playing one of about 60 different instruments – ranging from guitar and harmonica to video game-y blips and animal sounds - using one of four basic control schemes. For a flute or horn you hold the remote horizontally and press buttons, for a guitar you hold some buttons and make a strumming gesture, drums turn the nunchuk and remote into sticks and the balance board into a kick pedal, and violin resembles guitar with different hand positions. Every other instrument is a variation of one of these schemes.

This brings us to the biggest, most disappointing way Wii Music resembles a toy more than a game: Its open-ended, rule-lacking simplicity. You literally can’t lose. No matter how you shake, waggle, tap, or swing the remote and nunchuk, you won’t hit a wrong note. Even if you’re inappropriately speed-picking your way through a reggae version of Yankee Doodle, the Wii just chooses notes that would fit into the song and plays them. Granted, you’ll get more points for staying in time with the music, but there’s still very little real sense of accomplishment, reward or progression. Finishing a song doesn’t feel like victory. It actually borders on pointless. You’ve got to dig deeper to find satisfaction.

That’s a tall order, because everything here is aggressively lukewarm. The song list is almost tragic; it starts with public domain blather like Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, then mixes in generations-old licensed pop from the likes of early Madonna and the Monkees – not exactly rockin’. There are six Nintendo themes: Legend of Zelda, Super Mario Bros, F-Zero (Mute City), Animal Crossing, Wii Sports and Wii Music, but not all of these qualify as highlights.

Then there’s the sub-par audio quality itself – there’s no way to sugarcoat the fact that the actual sounds many of these instruments make are low quality samples. Compare this to the fact that the recent Metallica actually sounded better in Guitar Hero than it did on CD, and the difference becomes apparent.

Even the four minigames seem like an afterthought. The simplistic drum tutor is okay, but Mii Masestro, in which you “conduct” an orchestra, is an aimless snore. Not to be outdone is Bells, a game in which up to four players all cooperate to ring up to two bells each (basically, it’s like sawing a guitar hero controller into four pieces and playing one song) - is so sluggish it’s practically uneventful. Lastly, Pitch Perfect, in which you hear a note, then decide which of four Miis just played it again, is only really a challenge if you’re completely tone deaf.

The best bit for us is the free-form “jam” mode. It enables you to record your performances (in fact, you can record each part of the song individually, until it’s you playing every part) and then either tweak the arrangement or upload the whole thing to friends via the internet. This is the part we feel has the most promise, and hope it’s expanded for the eventual sequel.

So what are we left with? A music game with such a strong auto-pilot that you don’t usually do much, and what you do doesn’t really matter or look or sound all that cool. It’s a fair party game - there’s a certain novelty charm to seeing a roomful of people gyrating and gesticulating along to the music. And we appreciate the chance to play songs with different instruments and arrangements – Happy Birthday to You really does sound better as a jazz song with kung-fu yells tossed in – and share our performances. But once this novelty wears off, there’s not a lot of longevity here. That makes Wii Music an offering best left to the mainstream market, where the players are less discerning.

Oct 30, 2008

More Info

Release date: Oct 20 2008 - Wii (US)
Available Platforms: Wii
Genre: Family
Published by: Nintendo
Developed by: Nintendo
ESRB Rating:
PEGI Rating:
Rating Pending


  • Mboy1100 - May 22, 2011 1:35 a.m.

    Woowww I am really late commenting on this....yeah I wish nintendo would get into more hardcore games like shooters or something (fixing a few things of course.) And Wii haters, don't make fun of us, we didn't know it would come to this. When the wii released,you wanted it...don't lie...I know you do. We all do/did.
  • applezap - October 31, 2008 3:37 a.m.

    lol, This reminds me of these "gamers" i knew as a kid; they hated games like Metroid because it didn't have a score! Grow up - any real gamer knows exactly how to play this game! Bummer that the learning curve's a little too steep for these "core" - hahaha. Sorry that Wii Music kicked your ass ;-) I won't tell your friends. (nah, i probably will)
  • Kerfluffle - October 30, 2008 7:22 p.m.

    I like how 1-Up actually gives this an A-, or a 9. Jesus, those people love anything, don't they?
  • Diamondis - October 30, 2008 6:26 p.m.

    One more nail in the noble Nintendo coffin. I wonder how long before it turns from making games to making toys full-time.
  • georgeguy - November 11, 2008 12:46 a.m.

    any one notice that half of the games on the Wii are mini-game games?? on the other note this game sucks
  • skyguy343 - November 8, 2008 4:22 a.m.

    i WAS ALMOST interested but then u pointed out how it automatically hits the right notes...guess World Tour well have to do...or i could get a 360 and flick thru the menus...
  • ZombiePirate215 - October 31, 2008 3:49 a.m.

    Woah your telling me that some people SUPPORT wii music. I'm very confused...
  • Gatastrophe - October 31, 2008 1:29 a.m.

    How ironic would that be. Nintendo causes the very apocalypse it helped avert back in the 80's
  • thor0997 - October 31, 2008 12:09 a.m.

    And then the digression of the video game started. Video game apocolypse anyone?
  • Gahmah - October 30, 2008 9:19 p.m.

    Maybe their working back to their roots or soemthing.. eventually turning all the way back to making playing cards.
  • GoldenMe - October 30, 2008 8:46 p.m.

    I predicted it was going to get a 6. So close...
  • ian edgar - October 30, 2008 7:44 p.m.

    This game is just what I expected it to be.
  • fionnoh - October 30, 2008 7 p.m.

    wow, a bad review for wii music. who'd a thunk it...
  • iheartmonkeyz - August 16, 2009 10:17 p.m.

    im tired of these wii haters always friggin criticizing the friggin wii...just dont play it. The xbox is so confusing, with all those buttons and feels weird, so just shut the freak up!...sorry.
  • oreomonkey - April 19, 2009 4:36 a.m.

    Wii= donkeys*** XBOX 360= fun

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