Friday, May 24, 2013

Playing Games: Wii Music

I checked out Wii Music from the UM Game Library today to give it a shot over the holiday.  I don't really play games where making music or playing along in time is the main thrust of the game.  I suppose it's largely because I'm already doing that most days at work, so why would I play it virtually on a game?  This is a genre of games I don't know very well, but plan to explore more this summer.  There are definitely some cool things about Wii Music, as well as some things that left me dissatisfied.

The first ten or fifteen minutes of gameplay are tutorials where the game teaches you how to play the different kinds of instruments.  Now, I don't know what this experience is like for most folks, but it took way too long and was very boring for me.  Also, super unrealistic.  The drums and the piano are played with the same motion-- and-- as a person who plays both, I can say: piano and drums aren't really played at all in the same way.  However, I do like the premise of playing the game and the instruments.

Realistic, fun touches: the look of panic on the handbell player's face when you screw up, the sweating and disappointment when you play in the park and no one stops and listens because you've played so poorly, the orchestra warming up/ audience murmuring before you bring up your hands to conduct.  The pitch perfect section is also a cool section-- not bad as a Mus Ed tool as it incorporates reading and some tricky ear training.  I don't know if it's always this way, but I had a ton of augmented and diminished chords to create and only a couple major chords.  The section where you figure out who's playing the wrong note is a great training idea for a conductor, but it's kind of hard to hear the difference between some of the instruments.  Perhaps that's the point, and maybe if I played more I'd be better, but I enjoyed this none-the-less.  I love the way that you can record your performances and then mix them together to create your own versions of songs and then share them with others.  That rocks.  The game definitely got something right there.  The references to classical pieces that are blatant and overt-- love it!  Oh, and the fact that you unlock video game music to play/conduct as you progress: Super Mario Bros, Legend of Zelda-- AWESOME!

Disappointing: the lessons simply take too long.  They could be simplified and quickened for a person who gets it quicker.  I understand most players don't have a doctorate in music, but I just couldn't even do those lessons-- I just gave up out of boredom.  Also, doesn't the conductor traditionally acknowledge the choir/orchestra before bowing him/herself?  I know they want the focus to be on you, the player, but with so many realistic touches, it's too bad that the end of the piece doesn't end with recognition of the players first.  Also, if I tried to conduct any of the pieces at the tempo they should've been, the orchestra skipped because the game seems to think they should be slower!  What?!  Carmen Overture, Vivaldi Four Seasons, even the Zelda Overworld Theme-- these aren't slow!  Hopefully, the playing and conducting motions will get more realistic with future.  I also don't want to watch my videos right after I play, and if there's a way to skip that, I'd love to know it.  Re-watching the videos was just a chance to tune out for me.

Cool game, glad I tried it out!

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