Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Jam with the Band [NDS]

Jam with the Band is a game developed and published by Nintendo and originally released in Japan in June of 2008. It saw a European release in May of 2010. It is the sequel to a Japan-only game called Daigasso! Band Brothers. It is accompanied by a Wii channel that can serve as the game's speakers.

In Jam with the Band, you find yourself at a hole in the wall music shop in the middle of Grime City called GB Music. Working there is Barbara Bat (who is also seen in Master of Illusion), who somehow succeeds to sucker you into playing at the shop's venue and gaining revenue for the establishment.

Don't worry, the game's MUCH better than this paraphrased mess of a story.

There are three modes of gameplay in this game: Sing, Play, and Studio.

Sing is much of what it says. It's singing whatever songs you have downloaded to your game. Granted, these songs must have lyrics set into the melody. Inside of the Sing mode you'll find two different types: Voice Analysis and Singing Practice. Singing Practice is what it is. You practice the songs. Voice Analysis is an awkward mode that determines what kind of songs you sing best. Both modes offer about the same experience.

NOTE: Be warned. If you have songs with lyrics entirely in Japanese, the lyrics will show up garbled and partially corrupted due to the game not having any support for those characters.

Play is also what it says on the tin. Inside you'll find Solo Session and Jam Session, the two most important parts of the game. There are a few other things in this same menu, but they are trivial and most of the time you won't even use them.

Jam Session is the multiplayer mode of this game. You can't go on Wi-Fi and play songs with friends that way, but it's still fun using Local Wireless (even if finding anyone with this game is hard enough). Solo Session is what everyone probably wants to go to, first thing, though.

After that is Studio. You can create songs, exchange them with friends, or submit them to be downloadable through Wi-Fi. Within the create menu you can choose whether you want an in-depth studio or a basic, easy studio.

Each mode is very easy to use and well-designed. If you aren't hooked from simply booting up the game, then the gameplay will surely grab onto you and make you want more.

The graphics are well-designed. Everything looks like something you'd see in a typical music shop. There are some menus that look like posters and some that look like amps and jukeboxes. Within the actual gameplay, it's easy to tell each button's symbol apart. Even if you can't read the ABXY^v<>LR letters inside each symbol, the colors are a dead giveaway as to what you're supposed to be pushing.

Also a nice touch is the bottom screen, which is mostly unused during gameplay. While you play, there is a little audience hopping around on the bottom screen that does certain things depending on how well you play the song. It really is a nice touch, even if you don't pay attention to it because you're too busy trying to avoid failing a song.

Overall, Jam with the Band is an exceptional game. It's a shame it hasn't been released in North America, but importing it works just as well. This easy to play but difficult to master game could be considered one of the best rhythm/music games on the Nintendo DS and can lead to hours and hours of nonstop fun.

Graphics: 9/10
Audio: 10/10
Gameplay: 9/10
Story: N/A