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 (opens in new tab), 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.