The iPhone is the new Handheld to Watch

I’m sure it’s been said before, and elsewhere, and in my own writing, but I’m just really amazed how quickly the Apple iPhone/iPod Touch gaming and App thing has grown.

Yes, there are tons of crap games there, shovelware at best, and many devs can’t compete in a “lowest price wins” environment, and I think these issues need to be addressed by Apple.

But think of it this way: what other device do you have on your person all the time that can play the level of quality games we used to associate only with the PSP/DS market? None, I’d wager. Android is a new contender, and it’ll be interesting to see where it goes in the next few months as it achieves some sort of market penetration and non-geek mindshare.

What Apple got right, I think, is similar to what Nintendo has done: move your device from the bleeding edge of technology/feature set to the more comfortable center of well-designed human interface and “cool” factor mind share.

Frere Jaque? WTF?

46426_Wii_Music_4c_FRA_SCR033_Kopie_jpg_jpgcopy.jpg

Wii Music is as simple and kid-centric as everyone says it is. Except that it’s not.

Seriously, this game is a ton of fun. I’ve just walked away from it after playing with my daughter for the past hour or so.

From Destructoid:

So, the fact that Wii Music will provide us with the opportunity to act like we’re playing a game is the reason why we should gravitate towards the title? I’m sorry, but the idea seems to be lost on me. I realize every game doesn’t have to be competitive, but at the same rate, there has to be something present that is more engrossing than our own imaginations. I understand the sentiment when relating it to the uber-casual gamer, but for everyone? I guess we’ll have to see later when we get our hands on it.

Why are we endlessly chasing our tails with this whole, “hardcore gamers” label? I like gaming. I like Halo 2 and 3, I like Gears of War, I play RockBand, I play a PSP and a DS, and I play games on my iPhone. There’s nothing casual about it. But I also enjoy Wii Music. Why?

Because it’s fun. It gives me a different sense of playing music than Rockband does. Rockband is about hitting the “correct” notes in sequence, in the way they’re written. Wii Music is about finding the notes and rhythms within a common tune. It’s about expression and gentle melodies. It’s about traditional and classical music. Wii Music is about songs I know and have hummed for years, many of which I didn’t even know the names of.

If I want anything for my son and daughter, it’s to have an appreciation for music and an aptitude and interest in playing an instrument or singing. It’s something that defines our family. This game is as educational as I’ve seen, in a real way, not in a “Mario Teaches Typing” way. It’s not a slapped-on mascot on top of a boring educational game. It’s actually a game that allows for learning. It even has lessons, but they’re fun, non-threatening, and really well put together. As the graduate school gamer says:

When Shigero Miyamoto introduce WiiMusic to the enthusiast press he emphasized that it was less a game and more of an inspirational toy. When you play WiiMusic it is not meant to simulate the actual instrument but rather to inspire gamers to actually take an interest in music or even pick up a real instrument.

I do wish, though, that they’d spent some time recording the text in these lessons and in the menus, so my pre-reader could follow along. It’s not horrible to have to sit and read the dialogues for him, but I’m sure he’d enjoy feeling like he was learning in the same way his sister is, alone, privately, and with no one there to tell him what to do or how to do it besides the game. Without a parent looking over his shoulder, as it were.

That being said, Wii Music has become our favorite party game. Wii Sports is fun with other people who aren’t musical, or really into that sort of thing. This game, however, is like our family’s Wii Sports. It’s a way that 2 or 4 of us can play along. The Games section is a ton of fun, as well, and really enriches the other multiplayer activity, Jams. There are three games to play, each allowing 1 – 4 players to play real music with different instruments. One, Harmony Hand Bells, is just a hoot, with each person getting two different color hand bells to shake (via WiiMote) in time. In retrospect, it’s almost exactly like the other music/rhythm games, as you watch handbells cross a line, and shake your own colored handbell in time with the song, and as the bell icon passes a specific line.

No, I wouldn’t recommend to only get Wii Music. It’s not the only music or rhythm game I want to play. But it’s definitely one of few I’m glad to own, and play, and continue to play. Alone, with others, and so on.

Some other great thoughts on Wii Music (a big thanks to David Carlton, who suggested this in a wonderful blog post):

Stephen Totillo (mtv multiplayer): http://multiplayerblog.mtv.com/2008/10/17/how-wii-music-works-as-a-game/

Michael Abbot (brainygamer): http://www.brainygamer.com/the_brainy_gamer/2009/01/unlock-the-door.html

Steve Amodio (8bithack): http://www.8bithacks.com/2008/10/wii-music-why-even-doubt-ead-anymore.html

Hello world!

Yep, another video games blog. Why? Because there’s so much I want to say about my own experience of gaming, as well as larger, contextual issues in gaming, to echoing sentiments on other gaming blogs, etc. I do a long-form post on GamesAreEvil.com every month, but this is more for those short and long posts that don’t necessarily fit wiht that more “professional hobby” site.

I’ll be changing up the theme as I see fit. First order of business is to hit the header with a new photo. Something Swordy. And Ordinary. All that, AND a bag of chips.

Ta for now.