Jam With The Band for DS - Giving musicians some hope for the gaming mainstream?

Jam With the Band

A Musician’s Life..

Brass music may be many things – complex, heart-warming, challenging, and downright beautiful – but one thing that it isn’t necessarily one of its characteristics is being popular. Though striving for popularity should probably be left to those chasing the top 10 spots in the UK top 40 singles chart, many musicians out there, particularly brass musicians, have probably wondered what it was like if the French horn had the same sort of status as say, the guitar.

After all, you’ve got Hendrix, Vai, Clapton, and Petrucci as just some of the famous names attached to the guitar, and even a variety of console games like Rock Band and Guitar Hero carrying the flag for the more popular instruments out there. Who’s doing the same for brass, however? There aren’t many notable names out there that one can reel off without  having to refer to Google first, so what hope is there for the budding musician that just so happens to play an instrument other than the big four (guitar, drums, bass, vocals)? Well, you could have a go at Wii Music if you can look past the mixed reviews of it, but another game that has been received more positively is Nintendo SDD’s Jam With the Band, a rhythm-based music game featuring more than sixty instruments.

Jam With the Band was originally released only in the far east under the name of Daigasso! Band Brothers but years later it has surfaced as Jam with the Band and features some very similar (if not mostly identical) gameplay. As is typical with these types of games, it is played by watching the screen as notes travel towards a fixed point and once they reach this point, the corresponding button is pressed.

Hitting the correct button when the note is in the correct place is of course the goal, and mis-timing your button press or hitting the wrong button altogether is to be avoided if you want to score lots of points in each level. This procedure is nothing new really because aforementioned games like Guitar hero and many flash-based spin-offs of a similar nature use this structure as well.

What makes the game interesting is firstly having four difficulty levels to ensure that you are consistently challenged, but more interesting than this is the fact that each song has up to around eight instruments for you to assume control of. This is very much unlike your Rock Bands and Guitar Hero-s, which restrict you to either drums, guitar, vocals, or bass (with a few peripheral instruments on the side if you’re lucky).

In this game, the selection of musical instruments is extremely varied and of course includes stringed, reed, and most importantly, brass instruments – a refreshing change from the restriction of the classic band instruments in the usual console-based musical games.

Further to what feels like the main part of the game (it definitely isn’t), Jam With the Band also has other modes such as Sing mode and more importantly, Studio Mode. If you choose studio mode, you will discover that you can actually create your own tunes by either inputting melodies manually or later adjusting them in a musical notation format with the stylus. This piece of creative genius goes far beyond other games of this type, though a more in-depth look at the particulars of this game can be found in this Jam With the Band Game Review, which goes a little more in-depth from a gamer’s perspective. I’m just interested in its wide range of musical instruments and superior musical depth compared to other music-based games.