Jam Sessions

Jam Sessions is going to make anyone with a little patience a guitar slinging hero. Unlike the popular Guitar Hero franchise, Jam Sessions doesn't have songs that you press buttons in an attempt to recreate. No, Jam Sessions is about recreating the song by strumming out actual chords, created with the Nintendo DS.

Jam Sessions features three modes: Free Play, where you rock out just by pressing whatever cords you want (the way you would with a real guitar, a tutorial mode, where you are taught to play guitar, and a Performance Mode, where you try to recreate songs of popular artists. Performance Mode might again bring up the idea that Jam Sessions is some how Guitar Hero DS, but it is decidedly different. Unlike Guitar Hero, where the game has the little key strokes coming down in a pattern that must be matched to play the song correctly, Jam Sessions simply shows you the lyrics and the chords and sets you free; it's up to you to do your best to keep up with the backing band.

The biggest appeal of Jam Sessions is that it's a non-game. Jam Sessions isn't a game you are really trying "to beat." Instead, Jam Sessions is a game that is just a pick-up-and-play simulator - like a real guitar - where you just mess around for a few moments. And, to help out with the jamming, they have provided distortion, chorus, tremolo, and other effects to help make the experience last.

Watching people play the game at PAX, with an accompaniment of other instruments, helped convince us that this game has serious potential. The game sounds great, especially over a decent system, and looks like a lot of fun for anyone, whether or not you play music. If you play music you may understand what you are doing faster than those who don't, but it won't be a hindrance to seeing what the game is about: jamming.

Jam Sessions lets you program up to 16 chords before entering in any session, and lets you cycle through them with the D-pad. Hitting the L or R buttons switches between the two sets of 8 chords that you have set to the eight directions of the D-pad. And, while 16 chords are really only a drop into the bucket of what a real guitar can do, the interface really is intuitive for chord changes.

Soon you too will be strumming along to songs that you love, or even creating new ones. And, for those of you who love to create, Jam Sessions will let you record the songs you make. It is slated for release this September, and looks to be nothing less than rocking.