Video game music is a slave to the video game. Film music is a slave to the film. Maybe that’s why when I sit in a concert hall, I’m extra touchy about the music I’m about to listen to being a slave to anything. Sometimes I feel like I’m being actively encouraged not to let the music just speak to me but rather to let the music be a slave to the composer’s intentions or to some musicologist’s interpretations or who knows what else. What’s the first thing that happens after you enter a concert hall, even before you find your seat? There they are, the legions of nice people handing out the program notes.
And then you have them in your hand, waiting for the concert to begin. It’s natural to just sit there and read through them. It’s interesting to read about the history of the pieces and the lives of the composers. But those program notes are going to direct you to listen to the piece in a certain way. Once an idea about a piece gets in your head, it’s difficult to get rid of that idea. The program notes instantly hamper your ability to find meaning of the piece yourself. Our brains try to find meaning and structure in everything. Music is a great art form because it is so nebulous and open to wildly varying interpretation… as long as the listener is not swayed by already established notions as to what the music means.
Of course, some music is written with a program in mind. Pictures at an Exhibition is an example of that. But Mussorgsky’s work is a masterpiece because the program (the paintings) are not necessary to enjoying the piece and finding meaning with it yourself. A work that relies too heavily on a program is probably not going to stand the test of time. A great deal of modern music sadly falls into that category. The problem is that many of these modern pieces (20th century and beyond) is that they were constructed not with their sound as their primary guide, but rather some new theory of structure or some formula. The sound is merely tangential. My question is, why don’t these composers just write a book about their theories instead? Then we don’t have to sit through them in a concert hall.
A funny aside, I remember once sitting in class in grad school and listening to a visiting composer’s piece of music. The piece was a mess. Absolutely terrible. Before we opened up discussion on the piece, the composer wanted to “explain” where the piece came from and proceeded to tell us a truly horrific episode from their past and how the music is about that. At that point, all honest discussion of the music itself came to a screeching halt… well, before it could even start. If we said anything negative about the piece, we feared being insensitive at best. So there’s an example of a piece of music completely reliant on its program.
Anyway, I’m hoping as a video game composer that my game music can also stand apart from its program (the game). Granted, that’s not going to happen a lot, especially with a piece that’s a minute long and is supposed to loop forever. But that’s my dream. It’s very rare for any game or film music to be able to stand alone. Only a couple come to mind right now, namely the games Grim Fandango and Outcast and the movie Weekend at Bernie’s 2.
But back to the concert hall. To fix this reliance on the Cliffs Notes that are program notes, I humbly request every concert venue in the world to please pass out your program notes after the concert. Then we can see how well our own formulated opinions match up with the established opinions. We may find we don’t care half as much when we bring our own meaning to the conversation. As Garth Marenghi (sarcastically) put it when describing why he writes long explanations about his own paintings, “There’s nothing worse than a work of art that leaves you asking questions.”
There I was, sitting at the piano. I was embarking on a new piece of music for a new game. This piece was to be the main theme of the game. The pressure was on. This is always the most critical part of doing a game soundtrack: the beginning. Everything springs from what I do here.
I had come up with three or four different ideas. They were all good and I enjoyed developing and playing them, but none of them really fit the game. Do I try and work one of these ideas into something that fits better? It just wasn’t happening. I was going to have to start on a new idea. After playing the piano for another five minutes or so, I briefly paused and sat back.
Right then, during the new silence, a melody entered my head. It came from out of nowhere. And it was a good melody… and perfect for the game. I started playing it on the piano and developing it. This was it! And it seriously just entered my brain from who knows where.
I think, as my wife pointed out later, this is the type of phenomenon that gave birth to that mythical idea of the Muse. The artist is just a mouthpiece for whatever the Muse wants to bestow upon humanity. Well, I wouldn’t go that far. But I can certainly see how such a concept could arise. Seriously, the melody came out of left field. I had been playing something completely different and this melody just sprang into my head. It was… freaky.
I’m aware that sometimes I’m feeling more “inspired” than other times when I’m writing music. But seldom does something just present itself this way to me. I like it. I hope I can get to know my Muse a little better. Anyone else out there experience a visit from the Muse?
And about the game: this is a game that I’m not quite free to discuss yet but the soundtrack will be over 50 minutes and will be available to buy along with the game. The main theme is a 7+ minute suite and (I’m very happy to say) I think it’s the best work I’ve done yet in game music. Haha… take that, 1- minute main menu music loops! You’ll hear a lot more about it later as the marketing machine revs up.
…put making money over the game experience.
Yes, I’m talking to you, Grand Theft Auto IV on the 360 and PS3. For some reason, Rockstar decided not to give us the custom MP3 music station that we’ve grown accustomed to in every previous game… you remember, the station that played the MP3′s you had ripped onto your machine. Part of the fun of the game was driving around causing mayhem to the sound of your favorite music. I loved jacking cars and usually getting one of their radio stations, but every once in a while I’d get a car playing some of my favorite tunes. That helped make me feel a little more involved in the city I was in.
Well, that’s gone now. Why? I suspect it has everything to do with them trying to get you to buy the music that’s playing on their radio stations. That’s easier than ever now, too. When you hear a song that you like (and, honestly, you’re bound to find a few with over 200 songs in GTA4) you can text a number using your in-game cell and then get information about that song and purchase it through Amazon MP3 through the Rockstar social network (sounds like an easy process?).
I also assume Rockstar would rather not have excluded the custom MP3 station, as it is present in the PC version, but the (mustache-twirling) record labels put pressure on them to force at least the console players to listen only to their music. Maybe they’re counting on the Stockholm syndrome to sell their music, where captive listeners will grow to love their music through sheer force of repetition.
Anyway, one source of joy from GTA is gone for now, all because someone thought they could make a few extra dollars. I keep hearing rumors that the custom MP3 station will be added in an update, but nothing has materialized yet. One final thought: this wouldn’t be such an issue if the MP3 station hadn’t already been in every previous GTA game and in this game’s PC version. That they actually removed this little in-game treat is just disappointing.
They said it couldn’t be done. They said it was a fool’s dream. But on June 18, The Game Composer’s Blog turned one year old. And they were all proven wrong. “They” are, of course, the voices inside my head that encouraged me to play more Grand Theft Auto rather than sit down and write an occasional blog. But I silenced them. Usually.
Some interesting facts:
Most searched-for terms to get to my blog:
- game composer, game composers, games composer – Makes sense.
- 22.1 surround sound, 22.1 surround, 22.1 sound – Really? The post where I talk about 22.1 surround sound was meant as a joke, but apparently there are loads of people out there who want to be surrounded by an obscene amount of speakers. Well, more power to them.
- guitar hero (and many variations thereof) – Popular, fun game. Not too surprising.
- Peggle (victory) music – Seems that lots of people were turned on to Beethoven thanks to Peggle. This is a good thing, even though I am not in favor of how they used the Ode to Joy in the game.
- Seinfeld theme (piano) – I am not a fan of Seinfeld’s theme song and talk about that in an early post, but there are a lot of people out there who are just dying to play it on piano or get it on their iPods. Odd…
- composer games – Different than the other combinations of these words. I think people are clamoring for a game that enables the player to be a composer. Sounds cool to me. Hope somebody makes one.
- GTA 4 – I do love its soundtrack and it was a Soundtrack of the Month awhile ago.
- Wii music (and many variations) – Please, stay away from this game… unless you are 4 years old, then only play if Animal Crossing is not available to you.
And what have been the most popular posts?
- Winter Wonderland – Harry Connick, Jr. sheet music – Maybe I should give up this game composing nonsense and just be a music transcriber. It is a great piece, though. Interesting fact: the sheet music was free but I asked for a donation. Ratio of downloads to donations so far? 100 to 1. Maybe the donation model isn’t so great…
- The minute loop and the Shepard tone. – I compare the minute loop to the Shepard tone. I think it works…
- 22.1 Surround Sound. Whoo! – Really, I don’t think you need 22.1 surround (or surround at all).
- That darn Seinfeld theme. – Dweep bop bee doop boop bop, doo bop…
- How to break into the game industry as a composer. – Glad I could help some of you out there with this one. Be sure and check out Part 2 which I posted last week.
Total number of posts over the year: 75, or about one every 4.9 days. I’m going to try to increase that total over the next year. Thanks to everyone who has commented or emailed regarding various posts. Glad to know I’m not just talking to myself and I’m enjoying having this outlet.
And on we go to year two…
I won’t be attending the Game Developer’s Conference this year in San Francisco but that won’t stop me from going through the list of audio sessions and picking some of the more interesting-looking session ideas. Since GDC is coming right up next week, tonight I thought I’d share my recommendations for what you might want to check out.
There are 38 sessions at this year’s conference and I’ll highlight five of the most interesting sessions here. I’d love to hear any attendee’s thoughts on the sessions. And now, in chronological order:
Procedural Speech Generation: How to Achieve Open Ended Dialog in Games Using Speech Technology (Wednesday 2:30-3:30pm, Paul Taylor lecture) Overview: In this talk we show that game dialog need not be restricted to simply playing back recordings of actors reading lines. By using modern speech algorithms, new lines can be spoken, new virtual actors can be created and the range of style and expression in a game can be greatly enhanced.
Game Music Contracts: Live, Licensed, and Beyond (Wednesday 4-5pm, panel) Overview: Game music contracts and business practices have evolved for next-generation development, and this panel will illuminate the latest developments, best practices, and current trends for engaging audio professionals in the development pipeline. Building on last year’s successful AFM contract announcement, a panel of top execs, union leaders, and dynamic independents will update GDC attendees on the evolution of audio business practices.
Weapon Sound Design (Friday 11:10-11:30am, Chris Sweetman lecture) Overview: This session presents an overview of weapon sound design in action games, sharing design and implementation procedures as well as giving recommendations on how to achieve audio clarity in multiplayer and single player environments.
Recording and Mixing Music for Games: Get that Hollywood Film Score Sound! (Friday 2:30-3:30pm, John Rodd lecture) Overview: Effective music recording and mixing techniques can increase the impact and quality of any game music production. John Rodd will discuss maximizing game music quality, regardless of budget. Hybrid productions, virtual instruments, recording venues and 5.1 surround music mixing will be discussed. Recent game projects will illustrate key points.
Adventures in Voice Acting: Raising the Bar on Voice Acting for Video Games (Friday 4-5pm, panel) Overview: In this interactive and informative session, participants will gain useful tools to increase creative communication between game producers and the creative talent in the studio to better storytelling, improve quality of performances in games, and develop a more efficient process – enhancing both the creative and financial bottom line.
And my takes on these:
Procedural Speech Generation: How to Achieve Open Ended Dialog in Games Using Speech Technology: Now this technology is very cool sounding. I’m sure in the next ten years many games are going to head in this direction. No more canned responses and chatter, NPC’s are going to get a little life breathed into them. It should be interesting to see the current state of this sort of game dialog. (Paul has interviewed me a couple times and I’m sure he knows what he’s talking about)
Game Music Contracts: Live, Licensed, and Beyond: The business of game music could get a week full of its own sessions, but an hour will have to suffice for GDC. We game composers must not sit idly by as game dev companies get contracts skewed more and more in their favor. Signing unfavorable contracts not only hurts the composer who signed, but all of us composers.
Weapon Sound Design: This one is a bit of a surprise appearing on the list. Sounds kind of mundane but considering the importance and sheer quantity of games requiring weapon sound design, this should be a must-see. It’s a shame it’s only a 20 minute lecture. Seeing how another sound designer approaches this issue should be illuminating.
Recording and Mixing Music for Games: Get that Hollywood Film Score Sound!: Who doesn’t want a Hollywood sound, at least sometimes? I’m always up to see how other composers mix their music. It’s quite the black art. Mr. Rodd has mixed many Hollywood movie soundtracks and should be a good source of information.
Adventures in Voice Acting: Raising the Bar on Voice Acting for Video Games: Surprisingly, the bar for game voice acting is still set pretty low. I hope the panel gets into what to communicate and not just how to communicate to voice actors. Many game producers don’t seem to know what to ask for from the actors or don’t know (maybe can’t hear) common problems with game voice.
Well, there you go, my recommendations. There are many other interesting topics on the schedule and it was hard to keep them off the list, but these five stood out as having great potential to help improve your game audio and your business. Have fun down there! Maybe I’ll join you next year.
Guitar Hero 3 was a smash hit for us and our friends last year. Not a party went by without someone turning on their Wii and handing out the guitars. It was a great game. The difficulty may have been out of whack a little bit but overall it was an excellent party and solo game.
Than came Rock Band and the whole experience got turned up a notch. The first time I played, being a rock drummer and all, I took the drums and said to put it on Hard difficulty. Shouldn’t be a problem for a real drummer. Oops… failed out in the first quarter of the song. Real drums have about as much in common with the game as real guitars do. But I digress. No longer could music games be limited to one instrument. The social aspect of Rock Band was incredible. Teamwork, planning, and the ecstasy of shared victories and shame of shared defeats propelled Rock Band to one of the best multiplayer games of all time. Guitar Hero was history. But not for long.
Now we have Guitar Hero World Tour (reviewed here on the Wii). The full package includes a guitar, a mic, and a drumset. Up to four players can play at a time in the main game with vocal, guitar, bass, and drum parts. Since Rock Band set the bar so high and did so many things right, it’s useful to make comparisons between the two games. How does this game fare in light of what Rock Band did so well?
First off, the gripes.
1) It’s very difficult to see how the other players are doing. The a small, undecipherable mater system on screen that you can refer to, but in the heat of music making it’s very hard to get a good grasp of how everyone is doing. Rock Band’s meter got it exactly right and Neversoft (the GH developers) need to just swallow that fact and implement a similar system. Far too often, things start flashing red and it’s all over.
2) And it only takes one person to fail to make everyone fail the song. There are no “saves”. Once one person drops out, everyone is dead. It’s pretty harsh and, really, not any more realistic than saving people. A rock band can actually still go on even if the bass player’s jack comes out of his bass or the singer suffers a cocaine and Jolt-induced heart attack on stage. Why they chose to make this so harsh is a mystery… though it does stay consistent with the previous games of the series. I was quite disappointed about this one because one of the great social aspects of Rock Band is the instant team building feeling you get when bringing someone back to life. Then again, you do get a greater sense of accomplishment when everyone makes it through a tough song in one piece. To make up for the lack of saving, you can have anyone use Star Power to help everyone through tough sections.
3) Ah, but activating Star Power on drums is something of a black art. You’re supposed to hit both cymbals at the same time. Sometimes this breaks your streak and sometimes it doesn’t. But I feel it’s almost not worth it sometimes if it’s going to break your streak. They need to find a better method of activating Star Power on the drums in the next game. Rock Band’s system isn’t perfect either, but at least you know exactly when you’ll activate it and aren’t in danger of breaking one of your crucial streaks.
4) The lyrics are hard to read on the Wii version! Whatever font that is, it’s ugly and usually illegible. We play on a 42″ HDTV and use component cables so that’s about as good as it’s going to get. Luckily, the words you sing don’t really matter, but I don’t always want to be freestylin’, yo.
5) Song library. Wayyyyy smaller than Rock Band 1 and 2′s. Way smaller. But this will grow over time.
6) The music creator system is a joke. The creation system is unintuitive and extremely difficult to figure out. Even if you do figure it out, the instrument samples they use are horrible and your song will sound like bad MIDI (is there any other kind?). Rock Band doesn’t have a creation system and Guitar Hero should have just left it out and concentrated more on the main gameplay.
So, those are the main gripes. It fumbles the ball in many ways, though none of them are deal breakers by any means. What are the bright spots?
1) Better note charts. All the instruments feel just a little bit more like you’re playing the real music. The open note idea on the bass lines is pretty cool.
2) The drum set is much better. I love having the cymbals raised. It’s slightly more like playing a real drumset. Unfortunately, the bass drum pedal only has about a centimeter of give so that doesn’t feel quite as good, but overall I have much more fun playing these drums than Rock Band’s.
3) Better guitar… the feel of Guitar Hero’s guitar is better than Rock Band’s, especially the strum bar. We prefer the clickier feel of GH’s bar. The raised color buttons makes it easier to find your way around than RB’s sytem as well. The Star Power button is a new addition and works well once you get used to it.
4) The character creator/editor is much more fun and interesting than the Rock Band system’s. The variety of stuff to outfit your rocker with is staggering and there is some outrageous stuff to buy.
5) Overall feel is more rockin’. They nail the rock and roll atmosphere. The character creator helps, but the graphics and menus just drip rock. From the time you first boot the game up, you just want to rock. Rock Band is just a little more sterile than Guitar Hero in this regard.
So, there’s my little pseudo-review/comparison of Guitar Hero World Tour. It’s definitely the better game on the Wii, but if I had to choose between GH:WT on the Wii or Rock Band 2 on the PS3 or 360, I’d give a slight edge to Rock Band 2. The mutliplayer aspect is just a bit better done on RB2 because of the save system and ease of seeing how everyone is doing. Luckily, the Wii instrument peripherals should work on RB2 when it comes out on the Wii so we can get the best of both worlds.
I love that there is healthy competition between these two games. That means they will both be constantly striving to improve their games. They’re both already excellent games and I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend either one to people. But we’re in for at least a good few years of excellent music gaming.
Verdict: Required Listening
Have you been in a Best Buy lately? I don’t know about the one(s) in your city, but the one here in North Seattle has a brand new corner which sells guitars, drum kits, keyboards, and various other musical instruments and accessories. As I was perusing the DVD section last month (looking for the new Doctor Who Season 4 set – whoo!) I was surprised when I saw the giant wall of guitars hanging in the new corner room of the store. I walked into the new section and quickly wanted to run back out. There’s something about those mega-chain instrument stores that make me very uncomfortable. It’s probably that horrible Guitar Center customer service experience I had a few years ago which forced me to try and dissuade everyone I know from ever shopping there, but that’s a story for another time (maybe those failed rockers, who look down their noses at up-and-coming kids who may have more talent in their kneecap than they have in their entire body, shouldn’t be dealing with the public).
But I digress. A couple weeks later, I did walk back into that corner of the store and I saw a decent selection of stuff and a worker who was more than happy to let me check out the place on my own. I don’t know if their prices are any good or if they had the latest versions of all the Gibson guitars, but I couldn’t help but think there is one and only one reason for that part of the store to now be there:
Guitar Hero and Rock Band.
The kids today all want to rock! And that’s a great thing. The more kids out there are rocking and learning about the great hits of yesterday and today – how they’re constructed, how they’re performed, what they’re saying – the less they will be inclined to accept inferior music. It can only help raise the quality of popular music. And, perhaps, put an end to the reign of the record companies. With the internet, those record companies are now dinosaurs, chewing on whatever they can to stay alive… even the hand that is currently feeding them!
“The amount being paid to the music industry, even though their games are entirely dependent on the content we own and control, is far too small.” – Edgar Bronfman Jr., head of Warner Music (Aug 7, 2008)
They still don’t get it! These games are responsible for reviving interest in so many of the artists on all these record labels. I have younger friends who have now bought Boston albums thanks entirely to Rock Band. It warms my heart to see them appreciate the genius of the band who gave the world Foreplay/Long Time. Sure, I was initiated long ago but these poor youngins grew up musically crippled by the likes of Hansen and Vanilla Ice.
“I think the industry as a whole needs to take a very different look at this business and participate more fully. If that does not become the case, as far as Warner Music is concerned, we will not license to those games.” same dude, same day
Argh! Music is no longer a commodity. There’s something to be said for musical education, performance and otherwise, and the latest generations are growing up more musically literate and won’t be as easily manipulated by the evildoers of the RIAA. Quality has a way of killing mass production.
Long live rock. Long live video games. And go ahead and keep selling those instruments, Best Buy. You have my blessing. Every guitar sold is a nail in the coffin of the senile old record companies.
waste your time.
Time is a precious commodity when it comes to the music you create for your game, especially your downloadable games. It’s not uncommon for your title track to be one minute long and the in-game tracks could be even shorter. So it baffles my mind when I hear a composer waste what little time he or she has.
What does it mean to waste time? Basically, repeating things. Unfortunately, many composers still think dance music is appropriate for game music. Dance music repeats. A lot. They can spend 8 bars right at the beginning of a piece just doing the one-measure drum rhythm over and over. Then the next 8 bars adds the one-measure bass line. Then the next 8, keyboards, then voice…
Well, we don’t have time like that to waste in games. Repetition is inevitable. Every minute, your entire piece will repeat so don’t make the mistake of repeating music within your piece. We need a quick intro that leads right into the meat of your piece: the memorable and catchy theme. Then, maybe a B section that leads into a key change or another new idea.
Let’s look at it structurally. The most common musical structures can be boiled down to ABA and AB. Both of these work for your musical loops, but with ABA make sure the second A section is short or in a different key or has some other discerning feature and then has a transition back to the beginning. When you guide your piece to new territory through the entire piece, you create the illusion of a longer piece. Going the dance music route, the player will get tired of your piece much earlier because your piece actually seems shorter than one minute.
As the bad guy in Star Trek: Generations said, “Time is the fire in which we burn.” Make your fire a little more bearable by keeping things moving along in your piece.
(the box art is more exciting than the game…)
It was just a week ago that I declared I was not too keen on getting a copy of Wii Music. Initial reviews scared me away from buying the game, at least at full price. Well, I caved and got a copy. Since this game is all about music, I’ll make this SoTM a review of the entire game rather than just its soundtrack.
Short three word review: A Major Disappointment
Longer review: I was looking forward to this game since the day I first heard about it, which I believe was around the time the Wii itself was released. Back then I heard it had conducting and that was enough to get me excited. What a perfect use of the Wiimote that would be! I was looking forward to conducting song after song of my own virtual orchestra. Since that was going to be the highlight of my experience, I’ll start there.
Conducting is indeed pretty cool. The orchestra will follow your tempo and adjust their volume according to how vigorously you conduct. If you stop conducting, they’ll hold their note and all look at you which is pretty hilarious. It’s a good time for at least a little while. But there are some issues. One problem I have with the conducting is that if you do a regular conducting pattern, it doesn’t always register your beat. It seems as though it was designed for a one beat pattern. Also, if you beat too delicately to try and get the orchestra to play pianissimo, it sometimes won’t register the beat. Anyone who’s had difficulties hitting delicate shots in Wii Golf can understand that problem.
The main problem with the conducting minigame is that you only have a whopping five songs to choose from. Sure, Zelda is fun but that’s by far the most interesting of the lot. Even if all five tunes were killer, they’d get old in no time. You’d think Twinkle Twinkle would be the worst, but it’s actually a pretty good rendition with fun harmonies. The limited song list pretty much kills this mode after the first hour. You can extend the life of the mode a little by having four people at a time conduct. Everyone has to agree on the tempo and when to hit the cymbals but that’s pretty much a novelty. Even the high score system was mediocre. You don’t get the top ten scores for each song, just the very top score.
Turns out the minigame that is the most fun is the handbell game. Up to four people can control two handbells each and play in their own handbell choir. You can adjust difficulty and tempo if it’s too easy. Ironically, this game is the most like music games that are already wildly popular, Guitar Hero and Rock Band. You ring your bell when your color hits the “bell hit” line. Sadly, this mode is also hampered by a limited track list, another whopping five songs.
The other decent minigame is an ear training test of sorts, where you identify pitches, order pitches, and do other assorted musical quizzes. There are 8 levels of difficulty, but we couldn’t for the life of us tell the difference in difficulty between the first and eighth levels. With the less-than-stellar musical samples they use for the instruments, it’s also difficult to identify which instrument is playing a wrong note in some of the tests, too. Nintendo missed a chance here to implement a deeper ear training mode which could help budding Mozarts really develop.
Speaking of kids, that does seem to be the demographic this game is aiming at. I can see them having some fun with the Jam mode and the minigames. The songs are also geared toward younger humans. I would, however, rather spend my time introducing any 5 or 6 year olds to a real instrument. They can handle piano or violin. Giving them their first taste of making music through the warped Wii Music music making just seems odd, maybe even detrimental to their development as a musician.
I haven’t mentioned the jamming mode much in this review because it seems like a waste of time. It’s hard to tell what you’re supposed to do, if anything. But if you just randomly play with your Wiimote you’ll make sound and maybe contribute to the song you’re playing, but often it just sounds wrong. And ultimately it’s just not a satisfying way to make music.
The Mii’s inhabiting your Wii are implemented very well. I give them a big thumbs-up for that. From your orchestra to the handbell ringers to the crowds, you’ll see your Mii’s everywhere. I love Wii games that use Mii’s so effectively like that. We spend a lot of time making our Mii’s so it’s nice to see them in our games!
It’s quite a shame that the best mode in Wii Music (handbells) is based on a proven game mechanic. A big opportunity to use the Wii controls innovatively has been wasted. It seems Nintendo just couldn’t come up with a fun way to make music using their spiffy controller, which is quite surprising considering how long the game was in development. Of course, Nintendo probably looked at the Wii Play sales figures and decided they could shove another cutesy mediocre game out the door and sell a zillion copies too. And… they’re probably right. But if you read this review, please don’t make the mistake I did. The game is worth a try, but not at full price. Whenever it hits $30 or less, then give it a try. It’ll be a good for an hour or three.
Verdict: Not Too Shabby (but not at full price)
Wii Music has been released today. Months ago when I first heard about the game, I was pretty excited about it. But after learning more about the game, I’m not that keen on getting a copy. Maybe it’s the limited song list (Twinkle Twinkle?). Maybe it’s the lack of challenge of playing the instruments. Maybe it’s the poor MIDI-like sound quality of the instruments. But mostly I think it’s the fact that almost any time I want I can sit down with my wife and friends and play music as much as we want.
I don’t think I’m the target audience for this game. And I’m kind of disappointed that they couldn’t have expanded the track list or made more challenging modes for people who have a little more experience with making real music. Guitar Hero and Rock Band were able to bridge that gap as even people who play guitar could enjoy those games. I don’t think it’s that hard to do.
So it looks like I’ll be waiting for the price to drop to $30 or so before I play with the Wii Music toy. I do think there’s some fun to be had. I’m still looking forward to trying out the conducting minigame and I’m sure jamming will be fun for awhile, but I can’t get too excited beyond that.
All that being said, Nintendo needn’t worry about my business. They’re going to sell millions of copies of this game. And I’m happy about that. It’s going to get lots of kids excited about music and maybe our nation’s orchestras will thank Nintendo years on down the road.