In-depth and hands-on: Nintendo Wii Sports Resort and Wii Music

Here's a detailed look at Nintendo's next two powerhouse casual gaming titles.

Wii Music

In the meantime, Wii Music (which doesn't require the WiiMotion Plus add-on) is set to launch these holidays; read sometime in November or December 2008. Unlike RockBand, Guitar Hero, Rock Revolution, et al, Wii Music more or less provides a jamming playground where it's perfectly fine for players to make mistakes...almost to a fault.

I like the concept of granting players a taste of the connection created when you play music with another person, but the lack of a discernible goal in what I played did feel slightly aimless, at least in the jam mode. Sure I could see where I was supposed to play, but wasn't really penalised (even in terms of sounding all that bad) if I just rocked out in my own world arms flaying wildly.

Wii Music

Over 60 instruments will be available: A vast variety of string, woodwind, brass, and percussion options; the piano, too. For instance, the Nunchuk and Wii remote let you glide an invisible bow back and forth at your shoulder to play violin, strum invisible space to play guitar, or rattle away when you play tambourine. Various buttons perform a range of flourishes, both visual and musical.

Word is that the game will include about 50 songs, including public domain folk songs (I played Twinkle Twinkle), and more modern licensed content (I also played the Mario theme song, but expect some real songs you'd hear on the radio, too). Nintendo says it's not really thinking about downloadable content, instead focusing more on letting players use their imagination to change up the style of songs provided. A death metal version of Yankie Doodle? You got it!

Four players can jam in your lounge room at once. You can also use WiiConnect24 to save an instrument jam as a video and share it with a friend. They can then record a musical part over it and send the combined piece back to you. Up to 6 parts can be layered, six melodic and two percussion.

Speaking of percussion, Wii Music has an absolutely rockin', free form Drum mode. And you know how most real-life drummers hate being told when to smack skin in Rock Band? Well, they're going to absolutely love this while non-drummers will have to go back to drawing board (or, mercifully, drum lesson mode in this case). Case in point: I rock out at Hard on drums in Rock Band. Here, I couldn't even put a basic fill or loop together. That's because Wii Music features a full virtual 5-piece (8 counting cymbals) drum kit that you control using the Nunchuk, Wii Remote AND — if you have one — the Wii Balance Board.

Your left food on the Wii Balance Board opens and closes the hi hat, while your right foot operates the kick drum. The Nunchuck (in your left hand) and Wii Remote (in your right) essentially operate either side of the kit and the D-Pad or analog stick control which tom you strike. Drum mode is what will sell Wii Music, particularly what I'm told Nintendo has planned for the drum lessons.

Finally, Wii Music's Orchestra mode has also already been demonstrated. You'll be able to control a Mii character orchestra and gain rank as a conductor rated as passionate, graceful or methodical.

But like I said, I think it'll be all about the drums. Isn't it always?

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Danny Allen

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