There are various music games for the many different consoles, but except for Karaoke Revolution (or Sing Star if you will), Keyboard Mania and Drummania (or the drums part for Rock Band) are the only ones that can be considered more than just a rhythm game and really are controlled like their real-life counter part. You can really learn how to do utilize those two instruments (yes, your voice is an instrument) by playing these games.

The problem with all the other rhythm games is the fact that they have too little buttons and no ability to represent the melodies like they are in real life. There is no way you can represent melodies with 3, 5 or even 9 buttons – and if it is, there’s a problem with another physical aspect (like a trumpet). Well, unless we’ll be getting Triangle Mania that is.

So meet Jam Sessions (developed by Plato), a guitar simulation (game) which does not represent a real guitar at all. I mean, strumming on your DS? It can be used with your own pick, but that is as close as you can get. The interesting thing about this “game” is the fact that you can produce your own chord compositions – which is not the melody, but more the accompanying guitar chords. With the D-pad you have access to 8 chords (depending on which of the 8 directions you push) and by holding the L or the R button you get access to another set of 8, making a total of 16. The chords represent their real harmonizing sounds of course and you can setup your own sets of chords.

The strumming is a bit silly though, but at least you can create your own strumming rhythms, unlike that silly pick from Guitar Freaks or Guitar Hero. There’s also the possibility to change effects of the guitar and creating different sounds, like your own electric guitar amplifier can do.

It’s pretty cool, I’ve been playing it for a while and besides for the graphical interface being really sucky, it’s a good tool to create your own chord compositions. I’m quite sucky with the guitar, not knowing every chord there is, plus not being able to play every chords as evenly fast, this “game” provides a fast and easy overview to make your own compositions. If you know a little bit about harmonizing theory, like the classic Four part writing or even Serialism (I don’t think the latter is possible though in Jam Sessions), it’s a good tool to get familiar with it. Especially when you’re having guitar tabs next to you, it can get you far in figuring out chords structures in contemporary pop songs, if you’re not a musical expert like me.

So yeah, if you’re interested in either creating music or learning abour chords structures, this game is highly recommended. If you’re interested in having the computer tapping the rhythm for you and getting the best score possible, this will be nothing for you at all. It’s not a game, but more a guitar chord simulation.

And this is one way it can be used – in a concert! It actually looks geekier than its concept, but I’m still looking for a movie where a Japanese artist (can’t remember who) modified a Beatmania and Pop’n Music controller to use for their live performance. Anybody?

Doug