Wii Music Drums Harder Than Real Drums

Wii Music has been a target for critical dissection since its awkward debut at E3 a few short months ago. We left the show after a brief hands-on demonstration absolutely unimpressed with the game’s lack of a defined gaming experience, purpose or need for skill to play. The only lingering point of curiosity was the drum mode which, unlike the rest of Wii Music, appeared to simulate the motions of playing a real drum kit.

Earlier this week we received our copy of Wii Music and immediately dove into the various modes with an open mind. Although the game is deeper than initially perceived, the same nonsensical motions of “creating” music are unfulfilling and unforgettable. Except for the drum mode, buried in the lower right hand corner of the main menu like an afterthought when in reality, it is Wii Music’s saving grace.

It so happens I have my father in town who is an accomplished musician with various instruments, including the drums. His presence provided the perfect opportunity to see how the Wii Music drum mode compared to the real thing. Armed with the Remote, Nunchuk and Balance Board, into the Lesson mode he was sent.

The first three tutorials are fairly simple requiring only the use of the bass and snare drum to pass. My father caught onto these fairly well though I noticed he seemed a hair slow hitting the beat with the bass drum, played with the right foot on the Balance Board, and the snare, played by holding Z on the Nunchuk while banging it forward.

As the tempo increased in speed the better he performed with rhythms and beats more in line with an actual song’s pace. At the same time, he seemed to struggle in remembering which combination of controller and button presses hit which drum or cymbal. I jumped in and had similar issues, thought not to the same extent as him.

After nearly two hours of going through two-thirds of the tutorials I asked my dad to share his thoughts on playing Wii Music’s drum mode versus the real thing. Here is his reaction.

“I tried the tutorial and did find it difficult to build the various rhythms from the ground floor up. I believe this will be a problem for actual drummers or other musicians who tend to feel what they are doing rather than thinking about the beats or timing, perhaps not for the non-musician.

I found my biggest problem, though, to be having to remember which button to push to hit the various parts of the drum kit while trying to feel what I was doing. Also, I had difficulty getting a feel for the controllers, i.e. how hard to tap my foot and how still to keep the Remote and Nunchuk between strikes. Again, this will probably not be a problem for non-musicians. I believe Wii Music will be great for those who seek a virtual experience in the world of musical performance but do not actually play an instrument.”

By the time my father stopped he had not yet integrated the second crash or ride cymbal, the tom-tom drums or the open high-hat cymbal. Memorizing the controller button combination versus natural instinct to strike a particular space became too much of an issue for him to overcome. Other real life drummers and even some gamers will like struggle with the same issue.

We’ll be back early next week with our full review of Wii Music.

– Dan Bradley

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