The lights are on
What new ideas the game brings to the table and how well old ideas are presented.
How good a game looks, taking into account any flaws such as bad collision or pop-up.
Does the game’s music and sound effects get you involved or do they make you resolve to always play with the volume down?
Basically, the controller to human interface. The less you think about the hunk of plastic in your hands, the better the playability.
Flat out, just how fun the game is to play. The most important factor in rating a game.
Finally, Nintendo has seen fit to deliver us from the horrors of Guitar Hero and Rock Band's intuitive gameplay, accurate mechanics, and great song selections. Thank God. Now I can stop pretending that I was having fun rocking out to Metallica and live my dream of playing backup cowbell in a cruise ship band version of ''Yankee Doodle.''
Yes, folks, Wii Music is here. Here are the basics (and believe me, it's all basics): You select a song and one of dozens of instruments. Then, you and up to three friends can waggle your remotes and press buttons in time, and begin creating what can only be described as a god-awful racket. The notes are automatically generated, but do change in pitch along to the prescribed melody (and slightly altered by holding down buttons at random). In addition...well, no that's pretty much it, actually. You can save these performances for posterity, but haven't we suffered enough already?
My problems with the game's design aside, it's necessary to point out that Wii Music just doesn't work very well. Wind instruments are the most responsive because they only involve pressing the 1 and 2 buttons. Any stringed or percussion instruments involve swinging the remote, which doesn't sense well enough to allow you to follow the note patterns with any accuracy. With each person adding another layer of inconsistent timekeeping, the songs devolve into what sounds like a particularly spastic rehearsal of an elementary school band. While it's somewhat amusing to hear what ''The Entertainer'' would sound like with a sitar, it's not enough to make this anywhere near compelling. A few of the minigames are more useful, particularly the pitch trainer and the bell choir (which uses [gasp!] actual note tablature). These aside, Wii Music is nothing more than the digital equivalent of buying your child a toy drum set to freak out on, and possibly as annoying.
More importantly, Wii Music is a poor solution to an imaginary problem. Rock Band and Guitar Hero have gotten more non-gamers and casual gamers into the hobby than any titles I can think of in the last 20 years. And guess what? They like actual gameplay, just like us.
Ever wanted to play ''Little Hans'' or ''The Entertainer'' in a video game? Well now you can. Wii Music's song list contains 30 public domain hits, 13 ''contemporary'' tunes, and 7 Nintendo themes. Even if the list weren't terrible, the best sound you can hope to create out of the game edges up to Muzak. If there's any fun to be had here, it's in the handbell minigame or crafting the most obnoxious song possible to annoy your friends and family. The balance board-supported drums aren't much better. For a company that's prided itself on making gaming accessible to everyone, Nintendo has somehow managed to make a drum simulator that's more complicated than real-life drumming.