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When the Wii was first unveiled, an early version of Wii-Music was on hand to demonstrate using the Wii-mote to conduct a whole orchestra. This simple concept was the starting shot in a paradigm shifting period for Nintendo. A couple of years later and Wii-Music proper is upon us, offer a fleshed out rendering of that initial prototype, and sticking to the 'anyone can play' moniker.
Rhythm action games combine the enjoyment that comes from creating music with the challenge of video game scoring. The player is usually tasked with dancing on a mat, tapping a touch screen, pressing a button, singing into a mic or strumming a fake guitar controller in time with the music.
Rythm action games are designed to enable people with minimal musical talent to enjoy playing along to their favourite songs. Wii Music takes this a step further by allowing those with limited rhythmical ability to also join in the music making fun. Here, you don't have to keep exact timings or hit particular notes. Instead you are encouraged to dive in and have fun, without focusing on performance or results. Less rhythm and more action.
As children of the 80's enjoyed playing their Bontempi organ's automatic play along feature that ensured the correct notes of a song were played regardless of the actual key pressed, Wii-Music similarly produces music from whatever button presses are thrown at it. And this really does mean that anyone of any age and ability can play together.
The down side is that this low barrier to entry results in often Jazz-tinged (politely speaking) or cacophonies of noise (perhaps more honestly) at which some players may shirk. Younger and novice players are not going to mind about this, but more experienced or possible more musical players may balk at Wii-Music's inability to deliver a pitch perfect tune.
Wii-Music creates group musical experiences that are akin to the music workshops found at after school and summer clubs. Playing the loose game structure means you can simply spend time with friends and family interacting both in the game and sat next to each other. Wii-Music provides an excuse (rather than a reason) to get together, and then is happy to take the back seat as you interact, making music together.
The game's freeform structure means it really can be played in whatever free time you have available. When playing with younger or novice gamers it is worth taking a little longer to introduce and get to grips with each different instrument as they discover their favourites.
The combination of button presses and motion controls (including the use of the balance board for the bass-drum) means that each instrument has a reasonable degree of depth. Again Nintendo show their expertise at creating enjoyable mechanics and then placing them in a variety of engaging settings. Wii-Music also has a low cost barrier to entry as it re-uses existing peripherals.
By design Wii-Music suites most members of the family. The novelty though is the ability for the very young players to join in with the fun on a level pegging with their more experienced siblings, parents and grand parents.
Experienced rhythm action gamers may find the lack of clear goals and loose structure to be off putting. The game also limits the available music to that which comes with the initial pack. Other games often offer downloadable content to extend their life
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