Last Night A “Wii Music” Review
posted by October 24 at 13:28 PMon
The Notwist @ Neumo’s
Didn’t know what Notwist to expect last night, so I spent most of the run-up to the show holding back all of my stupidly high expectations. Maybe they’d be bored of their breakout 2002 record, Neon Golden, so many years later. Or they’d play songs much like the restrained, highly synthesized stuff on their latest discs and therefore be a bore. Or these guys in their late 30s and early 40s would merely fake their way through the concept of a rock show. Or they would answer my hopes and praye—ah, crap. Hard to hold that one back after waiting almost ten years to see ‘em, I guess.
Turns out my stupid expectations were met. The German quintet delivered the best of Neon Golden, along with a solid heaping of tracks from newest disc The Devil, You + Me, and set all of it on fire, and then ran around the stage to fan said flames. Most of the songs were dragged out an extra few minutes with riotous, guitar-led meltdowns—though “Pilot,” in particular, went the opposite direction, turning into a German house masterwork that recalled the best of Michael Mayer. Almost every song had a new, intense rebirth last night. And there were a lot of ‘em, thanks to two encores. Thrashing around the stage, loading the mix with the perfect mix of organic guitar rock and synthetic accoutrement, sweating like mad… hopes and prayers, not so bad.
Even with such a great set, the crowd might’ve been most intrigued by Martin “Console” Gretschmann’s liberal use of two Wii remote controllers as an instrument. Homebrew jockeys know how hackable the things are—easily connectible to a PC via Bluetooth—and have coded software that tracks the remote’s movement on all axes. As a result, Gretschmann’s digital handiwork was far more visual than seeing him hunched over knobs and sliders; his wrist rotation, side-to-side, and up-and-down movements all created tweaking and decay of whatever sound effects he helmed at any given point, and he could even change and insert sounds with their buttons.
Compare this to Wii Music, a digital noisemaker released this week that tries to be the super-simple Rock Band for the whole family. Lots of problems with this game: The song selection is campy, loaded with public domain fare. Even if you like these songs, they sound awful, because the real instruments have been replaced with MIDI noises. The drum simulator sucks, because instead of using the motion controller to hit different drums in space, you instead hold different buttons for each part of the kit.
The worst flaw, far as I’m concerned, is that Wii Music doesn’t feel interesting the way Wii Sports did. In that game, each angle and rotation had its own immediate, unique impact on tennis, bowling, and so on. In Wii Music, you snap your wrist for every time you want to make a noise. That’s it. No variation based on motion, velocity, or angle. Compare that to Gretschmann’s motion-sensitive conduction last night—what if Nintendo tucked that elaborate noisemaker into Wii Music? Calling the game “kid-focused” gives no credit to kids; if I were six years old, I’d know the difference between a one-dimensional noise-along game and a freakish, wave-the-remote synthesizer.
Gretschmann left the below note on stage for fans wondering how his rig worked. Not that it makes complete sense—wuz a komputer?—but I’ve included it so that our friends at Nintendo can check it out and get a clue.