Thursday, November 19, 2009

We're All in Mario's Castle Now

Behold!  Another master of Wii Music emerges!  Wassi JJ completely reconstructs songs into strange, spacey, melodic creations.

Just sit back and contemplate this for a long moment.  Wii Music is intended for anyone who wants to create, regardless of musical skill or talent.  At the entry level, it is so simple as to appear simplistic.  But underneath this surface lies a deep, dark secret. Improvisation.  Everything can be improvised, altered, remixed, and deconstructed.  There is no right or wrong, no lives lost, no timer counting down, no Pavlovian judgment - only the pure joy of discovery and creation.  This may be the most gleefully anarchistic videogame ever made.

We are no longer among the denizens of the music rhythm genre.  That ancient fad has peaked, and now it seems like a mirage, an illusion.  Guitar Hero promised the fantasy of being a rock star, and that's what it delivered - a fantasy.  The music rhythm genre cannot create music, and so it fails and dies.  In its place stands a new creation - the music game, a true music game.

This is a game where a child can play a hundred perfect renditions of "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star" (of course the music is iconic; all paradigm shifts are iconic), a note-by-note copy.  Or he may abandon the melody and create a new one.  In time, he will learn to smash the song to atoms, then reconstruct new worlds.

And below all of these layers, at the very deepest core, Shigeru Miyamoto's greatest achievement: he has smashed all the ancient conventions of the arcade video game.  No more time limits.  No more credits.  No more Pavlovian risk/reward systems.  The video game is not a movie, it is not art.  It is play.  In Super Mario 64, he constructed a castle garden for players to run, jump, and swim in freely, without any rules or goals or threats.  We are all in Mario's castle now.

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