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Here, guest writer Toddie Downs tells us what she makes of Wii-Music... Wii-Music is hands-down terrific, and one of the best Wii games for families with preschool or elementary school children. As my family is probably one of the last on the planet to be without any version of Guitar Hero or Rock Band, this review may seem slightly skewed.
But we are without as my kids can't successfully play them yet - they are just too young. Wii-Music fills that void nicely, allowing kids of all ages to try a multitude of different instruments, 'play' them using a combination of the Wii remote and the nunchuck, and make and watch good looking videos of themselves playing the instruments, complete with customized video 'jackets' for the library. It makes children feel like rock stars.
There is a lot to be involved with in the game. There are more than 60 instruments to try out - you don't get that many at first, but they unlock quickly. All are easy to play, but you can become more refined with them by pushing various buttons or pushing up and down on the nunchuck. Some of the instruments are hilarious; my kids were instantly smitten with the 'Cheerleader' - that's the Mii dressed up as a cheerleader with pom poms and shouting in rhythm, as well as the 'Dog Suit,' where the Mii barks and howls in various tones. Within the instruments, you can improvise with them by yourself, or play with a preprogrammed musician, or play with other gamers in a jam session.
This is where Wii-Music becomes a fabulous family game.
This is where Wii-Music becomes a fabulous family game. You can instantly move from a one person to two, three or four person game within the jam session. Once a song and stage have been selected (the songs library contains a wide selection of genres, from kids' music to old 80's relics - who on earth told the programmers that 'I've Never Been to Me' was a keeper is beyond me), everyone in the family can pick an instrument and play the song. There are combinations of instruments that sound better than others, but the fun of it is that everyone feels like he or she is participating, from dad to my video game-shunning son. Once the song is complete, you have the opportunity to save it as a 'video,' including rating its popularity and creating the jacket.
There is also a games portion of Wii-Music that includes three mini-games. In Mii Maestro, you have the chance to conduct an orchestra. I'm an amateur musician, and this games is aces at teaching kids in a fun, real manner about tempo, because as they swing the remote 'baton' faster or slower, the orchestra responds by playing in kind.
To get everyone involved... Wii-Music can't be beat.
Handbell Harmony is Guitar Hero for nerds, in which you have to play your bells when the screen tells you in order to successfully play the song. I actually come from a family of handbell ringers, and this mini-game provided much enjoyment, even for seasoned ringers, since we could increase the difficulty level.
Finally, Pitch Perfect is an ear-training program disguised as a video game. I've been having more fun with these games then my children, but it makes a nice area for them to grow into as they want to learn more about music in general. Similarly, you can take 'lessons' for different musical styles, from rock to jazz to classical; these lessons teach some nice introductory music theory that, at this point, are more fun for older children or adults than my young wild ones. It's nice to see the developers aim deeply, however, in finding ways to keep the game challenging.
For families whose kids are already Guitar Hero experts, I fear that Wii-Music may seem a little tame. But as a way to get everyone involved and sharing in an activity that levels the playing field between children and their parents, Wii-Music can't be beat.
With so many different perspectives it can be hard to know where to start - a little like walking into a crowded pub. Sorry about that.
But so far we've not found a way to streamline our review output - there's basically too much of it. So, rather than dilute things for newcomers we have decided to live with the hubbub while helping new readers find the columnists they will enjoy.
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