Happy New Year and welcome to 2012. My first review for this year is a guitar-based iPad rhythm game called Wild Chords. While the rhythm game genre may have taken a downward trajectory with the shuttering of the Guitar Hero line; a new type of musical game has come to fill the void.
Instead of using plastic simulacrums for musical instruments these new games use actual guitars, drums and other musical devices. Games such as RockSmith and Wild Chords incorporate a real guitar as a game interface thus helping teach the user how to play a musical instrument.
It is initially targeting the beginner and intermediate level guitar players and is designed to teach as well as entertain.
Wild Chords is a guitar-teaching app disguised as a game, which helps make practice exercises more entertaining.
With its cartoony interface and back-story Wild Chords is aimed for kids as well as adults. The premise to the game is based on the Pied Piper of Hamlin fable. The back-story involves the animals of the Ovelin Zoo have escaped into the local city. Thankfully these animals are easily hypnotized by guitar playing which the iPad’s user provides.
Wild Chords is a free download from the App Store. Ovelin makes its money off Wild Chords through in-app purchases of additional levels.
Playing to play the guitar
WildChords is an iPad game that makes learning to play the guitar fun, addictive and motivating. It’s played with a real guitar (no additional equipment needed). The user hypnotizes animals by playing their favorite chords (“Modern Pied Piper of Hamelin”). It is a family friendly game, suitable for beginners and intermediates of all ages and was chosen Best European Learning Game 2011.
The animals of Ovelin zoo have escaped from their cages and intruded the city. Fortunately, animals love guitar music. This is why we developed WildChords, a game that prepares you for such a case of emergency. Learn to play the guitar with WildChords, and you could be the one that saves the world!
What is WildChords
Playing the guitar is a great hobby! Unfortunately, up to 85% of people that learn to play a music instrument quit, before they reach a reasonable level. Why? Because in the beginning, the exercises are rather boring. This is why Ovelin developed WildChords, an iPad game that gets people hooked on practicing guitar. It is played with a real acoustic or electric guitar, and you don’t need any additional equipment to play it.
What happened in Ovelin city
There has been a major breakout at the Ovelin city zoo, and the animals are going wild in the streets causing all kinds of chaos. The monkeys for example intrude the library, and “reorganize” the books there. This is where the main character is being struck by a book whirled through the air. When he regains consciousness, he spots a book about the Piped Piper of Hamelin.
In this ancient German legend, the city of Hamelin was saved from a rat infestation by one brave musician. The musician hypnotized the rats with pipe music, and lured them out of the city.
Inspired by the heroic tale, the user grabs a guitar and starts playing chords. As it turns out, each animal likes a specific chord. Crocodiles like the C chord, Apes like the A chord, and so on. Equipped with this “magic weapon”, the user walks the streets, rounding up animals. And as he gets more skilled on playing the guitar, he is able to lead the animals out of the city.
Do you have what it takes to save Ovelin city? Try it out for free with WildChords!
How does WildChords work
WildChords utilizes high-tech audio technologies that can recognize through the microphone what you play. Therefore, users can play the game on the iPad with any normal guitar (acoustic or electric without distortion). You need no additional equipment or cables! Take your old guitar from the cellar, or buy one from the flea market. Your iPad and WildChords will turn your guitar into a game controller. The game levels are short one minute exercises that get successively more difficult as the players skills improve. So also busy people can learn to play the guitar, but be warned, it gets you hooked easily!
Who is WildChords suitable for
WildChords is suitable for beginners of all ages, whether they learn by themselves, with a teacher, a self-learning DVD, through YouTube or by any other means. You don’t need any previous knowledge, just grab your guitar, watch the intro video (coming soon) and start playing. Even for people that don’t want to learn to play the guitar, WildChords is fun!
To get started you will need a first or second-generation iPad and a real guitar. You can use an acoustic, electric acoustic or even an unplugged electric guitar. The game uses the built-in microphone on the iPad to determine how well you’re playing.
To make sure that the animals will follow your playing the app includes a built-in guitar tuner.
The game starts by teaching the basics of guitar playing including common chords, melody and scale exercises for lead guitar playing.
If you’ve never played guitar before you should check out videos on Ovelin’s YouTube channel for some helpful tips before you get started.
The home screen has seven options – Play, Tuner, Tutorials, Profile, Settings, Credits and Buy More Packages. All theses options are pretty self-explanatory.
The most interesting one is the Profile screen which acts like your guitar instructor providing feedback on how the user is performing by providing total score, hour played and offering incentive for playing a certain amount per week with bonus scoring. This is a good way to provide playing incentive for those who are truly competitive.
If you want to “brag on Facebook” you can do that as well.
Wild Chords starts with the back-story explaining the premise of the game, showing off some basics of guitar playing along with the relationship between the notes/cords and the animals to be captured. For instance the "D" chord will capture a duck, while the "C" a crocodile and the "A" an ape.
The game is comprised of several levels (lessons). "Downtown" starts with the most basic lessons and games.
On the main level selection screen a green light over that part of town indicates that the user has passed while orange means not passed. There are additional locked areas that can be purchased for those who advanced through the game or feel they are advanced enough for those challenges.
For testing I played Wild Chords using an unplugged electric guitar. The tuner worked well as it was able to determine when my guitar was in and out of tune.
For those used to looking at the neck of one’s guitar then Wild Chords will take some getting used to as you’ll need to keep your eyes on the iPad screen especially as you advance into the game. Wild Chords uses tablature style reading for some boards and note/chord recognition via others using animals.
Once you’ve played Wild Chords long enough you should know most of these chords (E, Em, A, Am, D, Dm, C, G, F, B). All of the music is original compositions so you won’t be seeing Iron Man or Smoke on the Water on Wild Chords.
The main caveat to using Wild Chords is that it requires a quiet environment so the app can determine if the user is playing the correct notes or chords. I found if there was too much background noise then the app would determine I missed a note of chord when I most definitely did not.
By using a game structure Wild Chords will help the user to learn chords on the guitar in a playful fashion. Sometimes the best way to learn something tedious is to make it fun and Wild Chords easily accomplishes this.
While the game structure seems simple and kid oriented the game itself is fun for adults and kids. It is initially aimed for beginner and intermediate guitar players but becomes more challenging once you get to the in app purchase levels.
Since the app is free you can try out the game to see if you like it before spending any money on the additional levels. If you have a guitar laying around the house then Wild Chords is definitely worth a look.
+Teaches guitar basics in a fun manner
+Built in tuner
+Works with most types of guitars
-Does not have any well know songs
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