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.
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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