REVIEW: Musiic Party: Rock the House (Wii)
Name: Musiic Party: Rock the House
Price: £17.99 from Amazon
The latest in the ever swelling category of rhythm/music games, Musiic Party: Rock the House looks to charm you with its cheap entry price, not needing plastic instrument controllers in order to play. So does it “rock the house” or hit a few too many bum notes to warrant your attention?
Musiic Party: Rock the House will feel instantly familiar to anyone who has played either the Guitar Hero or Rock Band games on any of the many consoles they’ve appeared on. Staring as a caricatured cartoony hopeful rockstar, you’re tasked with playing along with a series of increasingly difficult tracks in order to attain super-stardom. In order to do this, you have to rhythmically match on screen button prompts in time with a backing track which trigger the right guitar notes, or in the case of the drums, have you matching motion gestures to the beat. Do well enough and you’ll trigger a special ability called Nova Mode which multiplies the number of points you earn and works your fanbase into a frenzy, but make too many mistakes and the gig will fall apart and you’ll lose the song.
The main differentiating factor here is that the entire game, including drum modes, can be played just with the regular Wii Remote and Nunchuk combo. In fact, you can play nearly the entirety of the game with just the remote alone, though it’s more awkward than fun to do so. In other words, you wont need to buy expensive peripherals like drum kits to get the most out of the game, with just the regular Wii controllers doing the trick.
In guitar modes, players fret the guitar by pushing the analogue stick on the Nunchuk in different directions whilst waving the remote to strum stings. Drums use the remote and Nunchuk like, well, drum sticks, with the odd need to hold down the B or Z button to hit different drum notes.
While each configuration works relatively well, it’s nowhere near as accurate as the dedicated controllers from rival games are. Be prepared from time to time find the strums or drum hits failing to register. Nor, for that matter, is it as fun. While guitar shaped controllers are now accepted gimmicks, you’ll feel like a real idiot truly air-guitaring your war through Musiic Party. Drum controllers on the other hand are genuinely useful tools in helping budding drummers increase their skills, and as a result are genuinely missed. Sure, paying half the price for the game is a benefit, but not at the expense of half the fun.
The game feels half-baked in other departments too. Visually, the avatars representing your band are far less inventive than the designs seen in Rock Band, let alone the mad cap Guitar Hero: Warriors of Rock characters. There are far less ways of customising your character in the single player campaign too. Gig settings themselves feel lifeless aswell, with often sparse stagings made little better by the Wii’s general lack of graphical heft.
But if there is one major failing of Musiic Party: Rock the House, that’s its song list. While on the face of it the 30-odd tracks available here sound compelling, with songs from the likes of Razorlight and Motorhead featuring, you’ll be sad to discover not one of the tracks is performed by their original artists. Though some are serviceable, many lack the energy or quality of the originals. It’s like playing along with a pub band. It’s most obvious in the Motorhead “Ace of Spades” cover; no-one can replicate the gravelly tones of gruff lead singer Lemmy, and only a fool would try. Musiic Party employs that fool.
The music-rhythm genre is looking very tired indeed, and Musiic Party: Rock the House does little to revive interest in it. Though not needing to have expensive instrument peripherals will be a bonus to those who are watching the pennies, it also sort of sidesteps the whole point of the genre too; to make you feel like an axe-wielding rockstar. And while the cover versions here are sometimes serviceable, you have to wonder who’d choose them over the fully licensed originals in rival games. It does try to add a unique stamp in a few small areas (such as autograph signing and guitar tuning mini-games), but Rock the House is not only late to the party, it’s an unwelcome guest.