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3.6 out of 5 stars
Jam With The Band (Nintendo DS)
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
It's perfectly forgivable to initially mistake Jam With The Band for shovelware from some dodgy two-bit publisher hoping to cash in on the Guitar Hero/Rock Band craze. That forgiveness ends right here, though. This comes directly from Nintendo as the sequel to the Japanese DS launch title 'Daigasso! Band Brothers', which attracted a cult following over here but never saw an official release outside of its home territory. And now Nintendo has belatedly and casually slid the 2008 sequel under the European door with a new name and absolutely no fanfare.

As a game with origins back in 2004, this isn't direct competition to the DS Guitar Hero games. There's no use of Activision's peripheral or anything like it (not that that matters to DSi/XL owners). It's all about oldskool rhythm action usage of the d-pad, face and shoulder buttons. Each track has up to eight instruments and these can be taken up by you and seven of your mates via a single game card, or you can jam on your own with any instrument of your choosing. You're guided through the game by Barbara the Bat, a thoroughly atypical Nintendo character whose attitude makes her better suited as one of Sonic The Hedgehog's universally hated friends.

You need to know that all the tracks here are unashamedly twee MIDI covers. This would never do on a home console but in the hands of Nintendo on the DS they has a sublime retro chiptune charm to them. Perhaps the biggest thrill comes from playing Mario, Zelda and F-Zero medleys. Or maybe a rock version of Swan Lake or a NESified take on Beethoven's Sonata Pathetique. Personally, I've become obsessed with mastering all the instruments for Madness' Our House. There are four difficulty levels and the latter two can get very punishing and dangerously (for your DS) frustrating, but with patience and practice I'm on my way to mastering Suggs and the boys' 1980s masterpiece.

The dedicated selection of tracks is as eclectic as it gets but where the game really takes off is in the studio where you can create and share tracks of your own. I would encourage you to search YouTube for 'Daigasso' to see for yourself some of the fine examples of what can be achieved with the tools at your disposal. Not everyone is a musical genius, of course, especially when given a DS and a stylus to write and record on, but even an amateur like me can knock out a competent upbeat salsa take on Chopin's Funeral March. No, really, it's very danceable.

In addition to this we're told we can download 50 extra songs from a current selection of over 200 for free via WiFi. The sizable download list teases us with many cherished Nintendo themes and classic (and classical) songs. It started life with teething troubles and an error code (31105) which made it impossible to download anything other than the three most recent additions. It's since been fixed, but I'm guessing future support for JWTB won't be all that great.

On the surface Jam With The Band is an average rhythm action title, but beneath that surface lurks a great deal of depth that could keep you going for ages if you're the kind of gamer who values playing on a stage in front of cartoon hedgehogs and monkeys, or you're just happy to hear the Mute City theme from F-Zero again.

As a footnote, there's also a singing option that I've conveniently ignored till now. When you sing the trial at the beginning (Queen's We Are The Champions) the game tells you what type of music your voice is best suited to. I'm a shy type as it is, but I bit the bullet and sang like Freddie into the mic as asked, only to be told afterwards that there is no style or genre suitable for my voice. Ouch! This from the same company that told me I was bit dim in Brain Training and out of shape in Wii Fit.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon 21 July 2010
Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
I have to say in the past I have only ever played a 'Guitar Hero' type game at a friend's house and have not been tempted to enter into the franchise myself as I remained sceptical about the amount of fun one could have when playing this type of game by yourself, however 'Jam With The Band' proves that this type of game can be fun solo.

The game starts off with Barbara the Bat (whom I slightly in love with...) asking you in to perform a gig at the lowest level of difficulty, which is basically pushing any button you like in the required rhythm. Of course for the majority of people (especially those with experience on this type of game) would probably find this an easy enough task, however for someone with as much dexterity as a dead snail I have to admit that I even found this easy stage a relative challenge. There is also the opportunity to sing a song of your choosing and the DS should analyse your vocals and tell you your singing style. This is nothing if not consistent-I tried three times each time coming out with the result that I am a ballad singer and hence should try the Sinatra classic 'New York, New York'. I guess that with these games their success is down to as much as anything else the track-listing and this one is in my opinion pretty decent. There are a selection of well known songs (Material Girl, Lady Marmalade, Stop! In The Name of Love, Our House, Walking On Sunshine are just a few of the 50 pre-selected that spring to mind.) Alongside these pop offerings there are also a number of Nintendo classics-Zelda/Mario themes and classical songs. No the music quality is not the best ever, but does that really matter in a game like this one? I personally don't think it does as long as the melody is clearly there and it is on these. Furthermore there's the option to add a further 50 tracks to the 50 pre-loaded ones and there's a pretty wide variety of choice here too (I'm Like A Bird and What's New Pussycat are two I can think of!). The worst thing about this feature is the inability for the player to delete any of these downloaded tracks-so think carefully before selecting them!!!!

Once you've got over the initial thrill of the game then there is the opportunity to perform in 'Today's Gig', where Babs the Bat selects a theme of the day and a track for you to perform to each day using a different instrument; depending on how well you perform Babs will move you up a star ranking, down a star ranking or leave you where you are. The objective here is presumably to get up to a full star rating. If you do a good job then there will more than likely be an encore with a different theme-if not then the gig ends and although you can play 'Today's gig' as much as you want in a single day the theme does not change (although the actual song invariably does!). In my opinion this brings you back to the game day after day.

There is also the free-play mode where you can play any instrument, any difficulty and also hone your singing skills. I haven't yet tried the multi-player mode but can imagine this would make the game even more fun!

So overall I highly recommend this game-the presentation isn't the best, but it's a darn site more fun than many other games I have bought for the DS. The difficulty level is challenging enough to ensure that even the very best players won't complete the game too quickly and the opportunity for multi-player adds yet another dimension to an already excellent game!
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on 28 August 2010
Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
I picked this up for my 7yr old daughter as she is fascinated by music. Always singing, dancing, pretending to play instruments etc

We plugged in the cart and frankly, I didn't see my daughter for the next 3 days! She was howling out the hits - a particularly vibrant version of Queen's 'We are the Champions' springs to mind!

it's a fun piece of software to use, straight forward, user friendly and packed full of songs. There are practice areas where you can hone your skills, lyrics, radio versions so you can listen and learn...so why 3 stars?

It didn't last long to be honest - for a 7yr old, there aren't many tunes that she knew. And although she had fun, she has not returned to it.

I'd recommend this title to young teens and above to get the most out it.
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on 3 September 2012
Jam with the Band is a rhythm game for the Nintendo DS. I've always been interested in rhythm games so I gave this one a whirl. It was exceptionally cheap and I'd heard nice things about it. The game itself is nicely presented with a very simple interface. You are able to play songs where you must certain buttons at certain times to pass the course of the song. If you fail to do so, the crowd watching your performance will simply walk away. There's an option to go through a course of multiple songs or you can freely pick your own. You are able to download from a somewhat restricted library online for up to a maximum of fifty additional songs, including some Nintendo classics from The Legend of Zelda and Metroid. There's also an option for you to make your own songs with certain instruments. There's a beginner and expert mode to this. The expert mode really does mean expert, it's quite difficult to do but is exceptionally versatile for such a small game. You can then publish these songs online or play them yourself. The downsides to this game are short but notable. As I said before, you can only have a maximum of fifty downloadable songs on top of the songs you get from the beginning. For some songs it was clear not much effort at all was put into certain instruments, where the game just has you pressing various buttons in the exact same sequence for the duration of the song. However, these instruments don't appear too often.

Overall I think the game is a charming little package and is well worth the price on Amazon for it. It's a must have for rhythm game lovers in my opinion.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 20 August 2010
Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
I'll have to admit, this didn't sound like the best game ever made when I ordered it, as it sounded like something that would have been made in a shed by middle aged blokes! However, it's not like that at all! This game allows you to either sing or play along to 50 tunes which are included with the game. With the play option, you have to play in time, otherwise a "BAD" or "MISS" will appear and dock you some points. Hence, the objective is to get as many "GOOD" signs as possible. Before the start of each song, it tells you the difficultly rating of each part you have to play along with, such as piano, violin, bass etc. I have managed to master all the easiest parts, but haven't had so much success with the harder parts. Hence, this isn't going to be something which you will be able to complete in a day! Your thumb also gets sore pretty quickly, with all the repetitive pressing of the "A" button

The sing option allows you to sing along with the songs, which the DS picks up using the microphone. Obviously, training the DS to the sound of your voice is beneficial, as everyone sings in a different way. I can't sing at all, so I didn't enjoy this part of the game so much. But I'm sure there are people out there who would prefer this to the play along option, so this really does cater for everyone!

For all the composers out there - yes, you can do that as well! There is the option to compose your own tunes, and then upload them. If they're deemed to be good enough, they might even be published for others to download!

In addition to the 50 pre-downloaded tunes, there is the option to download another 50 free of charge. However, I couldn't do this as the DS doesn't appear to be compatible with WPA2 wireless security settings, although I acknowledge this is a fault with the DS and not the game. What I feel is a major drawback however, is that once you download the songs, you can't erase them, meaning that if you've used all 50 spaces, you're stuck with them! Therefore, there is a point where the challenge will end. (When you've completed all the songs - although the game may get discarded long before that happens!)

So, overall, I feel it's a more exciting game than I would have imagined, however I can't imagine anyone playing it for long periods at a time. Unless you want repetitive strain injury in your thumb, that is... Still, it's worth a punt, because, you never know. You might enjoy it!
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Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
As my review title suggests, this is not as good as Guitar Hero for the bigger consoles (in my case, the Wii). For a start, the quality of the music is severely affected by the limitations of the hardware. Having said that, it's a bit of fun, though how long it will last is debatable.

The control system is fiddly, using the buttons on the DS rather than a dedicated controller but it's not too bad when you get used to it. I never found the guitar controller for Guitar Hero particularly easy to pick up so it's comparable at least. Probably the most fun (and the most embarrassing when with friends) is the Sing feature. Before starting the game proper in this mode, your voice is analysed for singing style, a bit of a gimmick but it might help choose songs, or it will choose one for you based on the singing style it analyses your voice to be suited to.

Back to the main game, you can choose difficulty levels, which have increasing numbers of buttons to press. I didn't get as far as the more difficult levels, but then, I'm not an expert gamer. If you are good, you can submit your scores to the Nintendo database via the wi-fi connection. I didn't feel my scores were good enough to try this out.

Two interesting features are the ability to download songs and the ability to create your own. You can download a mximum of fifty songs using a wi-fi connection. However, there is a big "but". The fifty songs limit is finite. Once you've downloaded them, that's it. You can't delete songs to make way for new ones.

The score writing function is more flexible. You can input chords, drumbeats and notes (but not vocals), selecting from a range of instruments and exchange them with other users using the wireless connection. However, you can't submit scores based on any songs you have written or received using this function.

Finally the rubbishest function of all, the radio. Basically, this plays a selection of the songs on the card, either randomly or from a playlist that you can set up. Why anyone would want to just listen to the tinny sounds of these tunes is beyond me.

So, all in all a bit of fun but low quality audio. It would get a higher score if it came with a hardware device to produce decent sound. Other games come with their own add on hardware so perhaps this could be included as an optional extra in any future release.
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VINE VOICEon 2 August 2010
Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Jam with the band is another good Nintendo DS game that allows someone to "play along", with a stylus or the Nintendo keypad, to over 50 different songs. There is a wide selection of instruments too for you to choose from, although they are predictably synthesised in sound.

The basic premise that you chose your ability, select a song and then you will be presented with a rolling screen of notes you need to hit at a specific time. You are then scored on how close you are to hitting the note at the correct time. There are practice sessions as well as scored solo sessions.

This sounds a fairly common theme for Nintendo DS games, such as Cooking Mama. Where this game really scores is the connectivity. Selecting a "Jam Session", up to 8 consoles can be connected using just one game card, so all your friends can join in, choosing their preferred instrument and playing along. As an added bonus, you can download from the Wii shopping channel (free with the Wii download ticket number provided) the "Jam with the band" channel, which then allows 7 different Nintendo's to play together and have their sound played through your television. I was really amazed at the synchronisation between the consoles and the Wii when we tried this - all very clever.

In addition, there are a few other menus to add yet more interest to the game. You can practice your singing technique and it will analyse this and make recommendations for song choice; this too you try in practice mode. Obviously not a genuine analysis for professionals, but it is still good fun.

All in all, a fun game that allows your friends to join in - all from one card - top marks!
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on 19 July 2010
Games like `Guitar Hero' and `Rock Band' have made the rhythm action genre incredibly popular, so much so that other developers are trying to emulate this success. The Nintendo published `Jam with the Band' is the latest to attempt this on the DS. The game is actually contains three separate elements, play along, sing along and create. Each is slightly different and can be hours of fun depending on what type of activity you like. I liked the play along element best as it was a tried and tested gameplay similar to the likes of Rock Band. Singing is a karaoke style game and there is a neat touch with the DS giving your voice an echoy sound.

Perhaps the biggest element of the game is the create section that allows you to design your own tracks and then post them online. You can download 50 of tracks that others have created so that the game is expanded. The entire interactive nature of the game is what sets it apart. You can play with up to 8 players from one cart which is great fun, if you have that many friends!

All the practical elements of the game are top drawer; it is more the aesthetics that put me off. The idea of being an upcoming band member is a good one, but the lead character of a female bat is far too risqué for my liking. The game is a 12+, but I am not sure who this bat will appeal to? She is a bit off hand and too buxom for kids, whilst being too freaky for adults. I found this element of the game a little off putting and it masked some fundamentally top gameplay.
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TOP 100 REVIEWERon 18 July 2010
Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
This is the DS attempt at Guitar Hero and all in all it's not bad, it's just a bit poor.

You get a walk through of what to do by the host and music shop owner "Barbara the Bat", who's gets incredibly annoying very quickly (as does the lift music which accompanies her).

There are 3 main areas: Sing; Play; and Studio.

SING - a karaoke session

- offers voice analysis to find suitable songs (we have tried this a number of times but it always says that the voice analysis failed to produce a song list);

- singing practice - pick one of the songs and sing along.

PLAY - solo and jam session

- solo - pick an instrument and play along to an existing tune - press the indicated button at the correct moment to score points.

- jam session - play the tunes with friends.

STUDIO - create, save and swap your own music.

The music is incredibly tinny and I know the DS can do better than this because the sound and music of other games I have.

With the karaoke we all noticed that, even when we have known the song well, it finds it difficult to recognise the vocals. Not the first time we have had a problem with the microphone recognising what's said on the DS (Brain Training and More Brain Training come to mind), but never one this bad.

The "play" section can be used to increase your reaction times, but there are a lot of games out there that will help with reaction times and this is nothing special when compared to them.

I honestly thought I would enjoy this because I enjoyed Guitar Hero, somehow I feel very let down by this game. It held so much promise and, for me, it failed to deliver.
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on 16 September 2010
Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
I played this game having already experienced some of the Guitar Hero titles on the PS3, so it was difficult to know what to expect from a lesser known title on the DS. Fortunately I was pleasantly surprised and I can confirm that the DS is perfectly capable of carrying off this sort of game. These music games are never really enhanced that much by having fantastic graphics, so this game doesn't really suffer that much from having more basic cartoony graphics compared to what I'm used to on consoles (after all you're too busy concentrating on getting all of the notes on time to notice how pretty the graphics are!). Unfortunately the game does fall down in terms of replayability. Having 50+ songs does at first seem like a generous offering, especially on a DS cartridge, but after a while you realise just how spoilt you've been by the huge catalogue of great hits on the consoles and, aside from being available for long journeys, this soon feels like just a teaser to dust off the PS3 / Xbox guitar for another blast that feels more like the real thing.
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