JAM Live Music Arcade (360, PSN)

It’s time to dust off those guitar controllers you’ve got laying around the house, because there is a new music game in town. JAM Live Music Arcade is a bit different from other rhythm-based music games, though, as it lets you create your own tracks, sandbox style, at your own pace. If you have eclectic tastes in music, you may want to download this one, available on 360 and PSN (360 version reviewed here).

Gameplay is difficult to describe, but the in-game tutorials and challenges do a great job of explaining how all things work, with spoken voice and picture diagrams. Basically you have five instrument tracks, with five channels for each. By pressing the five fret buttons on the guitar and strumming up and down, you can turn off and on each channel to create your own unique sounds. You are free to do whatever you like, but the game does give you a higher score depending on how well you turn on tracks to the beat of the tune. So it’s really not like playing a guitar, even though the game recommends guitar controllers to use. But honestly, I used a regular controller and it played pretty well that way, too.

The two main gameplay modes are Jam and Arcade. In Jam mode, you’ll complete tutorial challenges that explain how to create music, as well as give you a list of unlockable songs to try. After completing all those, you can try Arcade Mode, which gives some goals for you to achieve while creating your own sounds. You can even record your own music and upload scores to a leaderboard.

While the lack of goals may be refreshing, it might make things confusing and frustrating for some gamers. And it was hard to know when the songs were over. But the biggest problem I had with the game was the song selection. While there are nearly three dozen tunes to choose from, it’s all indie rock, electronic, trance, hip hop, and alternative rock. So you’re out of luck if you don’t like that kind of music. The only song I recognized from the list was “Funkytown.” (I do like my 80’s music) But if you like the electronic switch-flipping side of techno music, you may want to check this one out.

Kid Factor

JAM Live Music Arcade is rated T for Teen with an ESRB descriptor of Suggestive Themes. Those probably come from some of the lyrics, but it’s nothing worse than what you hear on the radio. Younger players and other gamers might get confused with the complexity of the game, but any kid who loves making their own songs and creating music might find some enrichment in this title.

No Responses to “JAM Live Music Arcade (360, PSN)”

  1. Kick Beat follows in the tradition of this type of music game. Although its beat-matching mechanic is not complex and will be familiar to fans of the music game genre, KickBeat does a couple things that make it different from anything else you’ve played.

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