Distancing itself from previous music games, JAM Live Music Arcade brings a unique experience to the rather stagnant music game genre: allowing you to play in a music sandbox. If you are like me, the yearly music titles have uninterested you for quite some time. The last Rock Band title I bought was Rock Band 2 and I haven’t played a Guitar Herosince the original. Allowing you to connect your dusty plastic guitars from either games,JAM breaks apart the 32 different licensed songs from various genres into samples and loops using different instruments and vocal tracks. Each of the instruments or vocals have five different samples that you can play around with, while selecting multiples allows you to start them simultaneously.
As the game opens up, the only mode available is the Freestyle Mode. Serving as a basic tutorial, the game sets challenges that must be met such as starting two different instruments at the same time using multiple samples. It serves you well to get familiar with the interface and testing your timing before you get into some of the more advanced options. Scoring in the game seems pointless, but you are still given a ranking after each session depending on your timing. If you are like me and want some direction in your games, the Arcade Mode is unlocked once you complete the Freestyle Mode. This is where you play the game similar to the other music games, but with a higher difficultly and intensity. Instead of following he notes coming down into the screen, the notes move upwards in the opposite direction. Compared to the other rhythm games, JAM is a much more difficult title as you must not only choose the correct notes, but also make sure the correct notes and instruments are chosen as well. Once you get past the deep learning curve, everything beings to fall in place and you will find yourself lost in the music that you have created.
Zivix added the ability to record your own jams, but sadly due to copyright and license issues they are unable to provide players with a way to share them with others…yet. While you can always use a camera to record your television and upload it on YouTube, while not practical it will get the job done.
JAM succeeds in providing a sandbox music sequencer for consoles, but there may not be much of a game for those looking for a deeper experience. While I’m not a musical person in any respect, I had fun creating my own remixes to songs I never even heard of before. I found myself bobbing my head up and down with the beats I was dropping. Unlike the other rhythm games, this is a single player experience so it won’t be the center of a party. The game is supposedly going to have DLC as well, but I would think it would only if the game sells enough.
Note: The JAM Live Music Arcade review was written based on the Xbox 360 version of the game.