Tag Archives: Wii Music

I Like Lists… Yahoo Has Lists…

So let’s visit Yahoo.

Or Yahoo!, as it is correctly written I suppose.  I always leave out the exclamation point.

Yahoo seems to have some sort of list in its top stories on the main page.  Things like Signs You’re a Green Hypocrite and such.  But once in a while something related to video games makes an appearance.

There were two such lists in the last week that I thought were interesting.

The first was the Most Overhyped Video Games of All Time.

You’ll have to go read their criteria and such, but the list was:

  • Pac-Man for the Atari 2600 (1982)
  • Diakatana (2000)
  • Enter the Matrix (2003)
  • Star Wars: Galaxies (2003)
  • Killzone (2004)
  • Wii Music (2008)
  • Too Human (2008)
  • Spore (2008)

I like this list for a few of reasons.

First, I bought that horrible, horrible version of Pac-Man on the Atari 2600.  I saved my money and spent it on the game.  $30 was some serious money back then.

It was so bad.

It was so very bad that we cannot let go of the disappointment almost 30 years later.

So bad that it is blamed for hurting the video game market.

So bad that it even has it’s own sizable entry on Wikipedia.

I think that game broke my relationship with the 2600 for good.

Then there is Star Wars Galaxies there in the middle.  An MMO that isn’t Warhammer Online being tarred with the hype brush.  Well, that is refreshing!  And SWG being called out for something besides the NGE!  It is a two-fer!

And Wii Music.  I’ve already been down on Wii Music Not sure how the hype really was, but the game itself… rubbish.

Finally, Spore.  So much hype.  So much copy protection.  Such a “meh” game.  Even the Zero Punctionation review of the game was probably the most mild review Yahtzee has ever done.

Still, is that really the definitive list of most overhyped games?  I mean sure, Duke Nukem Forever didn’t make the list, having never actually shipped, but I’m sure there must be some other worthy titles out there.

The other list that caught my eye was the Top Selling Video Games of 2010 so far.

I immediately took to this list because its focus was only titles that were released in 2009 and 2010, so the whole thing wasn’t weighed down by the various boxed versions and expansions for World of Warcraft and The Sims.  Or maybe it was just a consoles only list.  They didn’t say that anywhere… in fact they were pretty sparse on the parameters… but these titles don’t totally go against what you see elsewhere.  Have Sims sales dried up?

Anyway, the list for this year, so far:

  1. New Super Mario Bros. Wii (Wii)
  2. Pokemon SoulSilver (DS)
  3. Red Dead Redemption (Xbox 360)
  4. God of War III (PlayStation 3)
  5. Wii Fit Plus (Wii)
  6. Wii Sports Resort (Wii)
  7. Pokemon HeartGold (DS)
  8. Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 (Xbox 360)
  9. Just Dance (Wii)
  10. Super Mario Galaxy 2 (Wii)

My first reaction was, “Wow, that is a lot of Nintendo focused titles.”

Club Nintendo Indeed!

Nintendo seems to own us with 7 of the 10 titles on that list.  At least only two of them are Mario.

That was quickly followed by “Wow, that is a lot of Pokemon!”  If they hadn’t split them out, combined Pokemon HeartGold & SoulSilver would have been on top.

And then, I started to wonder how soon StarCraft II would break into that list.  According to that other source I linked, it is closing in on the Top 20 world wide, is already in the Top 20 in the Americas, and has the usual Blizzard momentum behind it.

As My Guitar Gently Clicks

My wife asked, “Can we get something better than that crappy Wii Music?”

We’re still down on Wii Music around our house.

But this time, my wife was planning out how to keep 20+ people entertained at either end of Thanksgiving dinner this coming Thursday.  She was wondering if there was some Wii game we could get that would help out.

I pondered the new Wii Resort, but decided that the reference to Wii Music ought to focus the search.  So I went about looking into the Wii versions of the popular toy guitar games.

The first step last Monday was to walk over to the tech support department at the office, which is where most of the console gamers reside, and loudly ask the question, “Guitar Hero or Rock Band?”

They looked at me for about two beats and pretty much unanimously said, “Rock Band.”

I am going to guess that there was a certain amount of “pity the old guy and his Wii” in that recommendation because they followed up the response with a lot about Rock Band being easier, having “no fail mode” and such.

Which was the correct reasoning for a recommendation, since what I know about Rock Band and Guitar Hero wouldn’t have filled a thimble at that point.

I left to go look up reviews on Rock Band while they were still talking about sound/screen synchronization and the merits of the stage kit fog machine. (XBox 360 only I’m afraid.)

Some leafing through reviews showed that people thought the instruments with the original Rock Band were “teh suxor,” but most reviews seemed to really like the instruments that came with Rock Band 2.

Rock Band 2 was the choice.

The Choice

(Pictures for this post were all snatched from a Google Images search because, frankly, it wouldn’t have any pictures otherwise.)

So I went over to Amazon.com, forgetting to go through anybody’s web store front yet again, and ordered Rock Band 2. I opted for second day delivery despite the free delivery option being available.  I wanted to make sure we had it by Friday night so we could figure it out before Thanksgiving and I was afraid it might go via UPS, which has a habit of holding packages in their local warehouse until the delivery date has arrived.

Wednesday I got a call at work from my wife.  She told me that Rock Band had arrived, but that this giant box had also been delivered.  In her mind, a Wii game is about the size of a DVD, which she assumed was in the small box we got from Amazon.com.  I explained that the big box was Rock Band because it comes with a guitar and a drum kit.

I think this came as something of a surprise, but she was enthusiastic about it.

The box, about the size of Herve Villechaize‘s coffin, was deposited on the floor at one end of our family room, where it sat for over 24 hours without so much as a remark from my daughter, a level of obliviousness that I did not think we would see until the teenage years.  I finally had to ask her, “What’s in the box?” before she looked at it, looked at me, then asked back, “What’s in the box?”

Then I told her she would have to wait until I got home from work on Friday to find out.  That built a level of anticipation in her that lasted for about 2 minutes, then she was off doing something else.  Spoiled child indeed.

Friday night finally rolled around, I got home from work, pizza was ordered, and my wife went off to some girl gathering leaving my daughter and I to unpack and setup of Rock Band 2.

I opened up the outer, then the inner box, and dumped all the bits and pieces onto the family room floor.  Then the impatience began as my daughter wanted to get in there and play right away while I had to do the Christmas Eve parental assembly routine.

This is what you get in the box:

Microphone, Drums, and Guitar

(annotated picture swiped from here just to make sure you knew which was the microphone)

About 30 minutes later, we had just about everything together and were ready to try it out.

The Guitar

The guitar… or the guitar controller, rather… is actually very nicely done.  It does not look or feel quite as much like a toy as other similar controllers I have seen.  It feels solid, if not as heavy as an actual electric guitar, and the buttons on the fret board are nicely colored only on the top of the neck, where you can see them when you’re holding the controller, as opposed to on the face of the fret board, where everybody except you can see them unless you tilt the guitar up.

The strap adjusted enough to accommodate both myself and my daughter at need and we were both able to at least get through the tutorial and an easy song or two right away without screwing up too badly.

The Drums

The drums controller is also reasonably solid.  It stood up to both of us beating on it for a few minutes.  Unfortunately, it only had to endure a few minutes until we gave up in frustration.

The drums are hard.

Or, rather, the drums are not as easy, even on easy mode, as the guitar.  When you select easy mode on the guitar, you only have to deal with three of the five possible buttons.  With the drums, even in easy mode, you have all four pads to beat on and the pedal to mash.  That was more than either of us were ready for on a Friday night.  Add in the fact that hitting the drums was somewhat loud yet unsatisfying and we went anti-drum pretty fast.

So the drums got placed over in the corner of the room, where they have remained untouched.

Mr. Microphone

With two of us playing the game, that left the microphone as the only other option.  My daughter wanted to play with the guitar still, so that left me on vocals, the front man for the group.

So where the drums are hard, even on easy mode, the vocals seemed very easy.  On easy mode I was belting out extremely high percentages and pretty much holding the act together while the audience was booing my daughter off stage.  Show biz is tough.

After having gone through a couple of songs though, I became pretty sure that one of those multi-tone car alarms would score moderately well in easy mode.

Still, it was nice to not be completely out of my depth for a little bit.  I did find that my own natural range (which runs from F-flat to C-you later) was so limited that I had to move straight to a low falsetto in order to keep my pitch on track with the little meter at the top of the screen.

That worked, but I have my usual problem of singing just as badly compounded by doing so while trying to sound like I am in one of the Monty Python “pepperpot” sketches.

The Songs

Rock Band 2 comes with 84 songs.  You can only play a few of them in Quick Play mode it seems, even after entering the alleged “unlock all” cheat code, so I am probably missing something.  Of the list we were allowed to choose from, we favored:

We Got The Beat – A song I chose because I knew the words.  Or I thought I did, anyway.  It can be amazing to find out you’ve been singing along WRONG for 25 years.

Hungry Like The Wolf – Again, thought I knew the words… I didn’t.  Even my wife was surprised at how much the lyrics varied from her own imagination.  Still, manageable on easy mode as long as we leave the drums out of the picture.

Cool for Cats – My daughter’s favorite, the one we have to play over and over.  This is where my daughter and I are of different minds.  She likes to pick a song and, you know, practice and get better, while I just want to turn on “No Fail” mode, crank through the whole play list, shout, “Thank You San Jose!” and call it a night.

We are getting better at it.  I think my daughter likes the song because it implies that cats are cool.  I am certain that she doesn’t understand the actual lyrics.  Hell, I’ve sung it more than a dozen times now and *I* don’t understand the lyrics.  But it is rock and roll, and it is better to sound good than to be good… or something.

Eye of the Tiger – The only other song on the Quick Play list that I knew.  My daughter wasn’t keen on it, despite having “Tiger” in the title.

We did try a few other items on the list, but few were familiar to me at all, so we seem to always end up back at “Cool for Cats.”

Downloadable Content

We went and explored the list of downloadable content for Rock Band 2.  There is quite a long list available.  Since we had some Wii points available, we grabbed Pretty Fly (for a White Guy) because it is the basis for the parody Pretty Fly (for a Dranei).  I was up for it, but it was quickly pulled from our rotation by my daughter because it contains a bad word.

I also threatend to download White Rabbit until I let my daughter listen to it on iTunes first.  That got the axe, which was probably just as well, since the downloadable content uses up a big chunk of the memory on the Wii and we seem to have filled up our SD Card with pictures from Pokemon Ranch.

So I have to figure that out before we can spend any more Wii Points on downloads.

Second Guitar?

After a few days fooling around, what I really want to get is a second guitar.  The guitar controller is the obvious cool aspect of the game.  I would go by Fry’s on the way home and buy one today, if I could find something somewhere online or in the written instructions with a simple title like, “How to add a Second Guitar to Rock Band 2.”

I have yet to find that, and the guitars look to be expensive enough that I’m not going there unless I know it will work.


So far we are having fun.  We have woken the Wii up from what has been a long summer sleep and we jump around in the family room in front of the TV for 30-45 minutes at a stretch, usually right before bed time.

We’ll see how things play out on Thanksgiving.  Maybe we can get somebody to play the drums.  As for songs I know, my backup plan was in that small box that arrived at the same time Rock Band 2 did.

Wii Music

Wii Music is rubbish.

Seriously.  It is as though Nintendo looked at all the money being raked in by Rock Band and Guitar Hero and said, “How can we tap in on this market without really putting in any effort?”

And so Wii Music was mailed in.  Take some Miis, throw in some air guitar instrument motions with the Wii remotes, find some public domain music, mix in the usual measure of Nintendo required features, and let the sheep have at it.

I suppose I have to admire Nintendo for setting the bar extremely low.  This is a game that somebody who cannot handle the colored buttons on the fret board of a little plastic guitar can still manage.  But that does not make it any less annoying.

And the first, and most annoying bit is the fact that the Nintendo obsession with unlocking content is in full form here.  So you cannot just jump into the game and play a song you might enjoy… not that there are likely to be any… no, you have to kick off with “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star,” in some crazed tribute to the Suzuki method.

And so you jam on electric guitar or drums or whatever to the song to which we all sing the “ABCs” here in the US.  Fun.  Not.

You then advance through “Do-Re-Mi,” “O Christmas Tree,” and “The Flea Waltz” to unlock “The Legend of Zelda” or, listed as popular, “Daydream Believer.”  I suppose it meets the “popular at some time in living memory” benchmark.  Looking at the list of songs the game has hidden away, there appears to be a couple of interesting titles, but we have not had the stamina to go unlock any of them so far.

There are other things to do in the game besides wave your hands to grammar school tunes.  One which I thought might be a bit amusing was Mii Maestro, which involves conducting an orchestra Miis.  Who doesn’t want to be the big shot with the baton?

You get to set the tempo for the piece, so you can drag it out like “Stairway to Heaven” or get all Herbert von Karajan and make it go by like “Flight of the Bumblebee.” (The man was a force, but could conduct some days like he was in a hurry to beat the traffic home.)  Of course, to get to any songs you might like to conduct… and there are one or two… you first have to conduct “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star.”  And even once you get something like Vivaldi’s “The Four Seasons – Spring” or Beethoven’s “Ode to Joy” on the menu, the game wears thin pretty quickly.

Of course, one of the worst thing of all about the game is that my daughter loves it.

And so we flail away together, Wii Remotes alive trying to mimic in some way the instrument we’ve each chosen, making noises that sound like distant relatives of the notes one would expect, occasionally straying into the neighborhood of the right tempo, and proving that when it comes to music we should probably just stick to the play button on our iPods.  It is no wonder I steer clear of the minstrel in LOTRO.

The other killer for me is the fact that it sure seems like there ought to be some good in the game.

The jam element seems to be on the right track, but it always ends up as a disco train wreck or a cat fight in the band room. (Doubly so when one of the instruments you can unlock is your Mii wearing a cat outfit that makes caterwauling sounds.) That could be just us… though I’d believe it if something sounded good even once.  We cannot be bad all the time, can we?

Meanwhile the wide selection of instruments invites experimentation and repetition, but only leads to disappointment as you find out that you make equally awful noises whether playing harp, bass, ukulele, banjo, sitar, marimba, saxophone, recorder, or snare drum.

Still, my daughter has fun with the game.  I just end up with a headache.  But I was never the air guitar kind of person in the first place.

Time to go play “Daydream Believer” again.  Maybe it will sound better if I go with the steel drums this time.