STAFF REVIEW of Jam Live Music Arcade (Xbox 360 Arcade)


Wednesday, May 23, 2012.
by Brent Roberts

Jam Live Music Arcade Box art Welcome ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, children of all ages to one of the most innovative, complex, rewarding music experiences you can find on the Xbox 360! That?s right folks, your twisted audiophile Symmetric has been let out of his cage to bring this review of JAM Live Music Arcade to you! I'm normally a very calm, rational XboxAddict, but when I saw JAM Live Music Arcade through my cell's bars I knew I had to escape custody to try and get my hands on this. The days of Guitar Hero, DJ Hero is done and Rock Band is painfully trying to tread water by constantly trying to release DLC. Consider this your wake up call to music games for you will not find a better audio production game on the Xbox 360. Let's explore more of Jam Live Music Arcade and let's figure out if this strikes a chord with the music crowd.

JAM Live Music Arcade's interface is fairly straight forward and looks simplistic on the outside, but once you dive into it, you may feel a bit overwhelmed at first. For those who are not savvy in the world of music production and remixes, the learning curve is significant at first, then once you think that you have it mastered, JAM Live Music Arcade amps up your options and opens up a whole new world of music for you to explore. The console where all this magic happens is split into five different banks of music (Guitar, Drums, Vocals, Piano, etc.) and each bank contains five trigger buttons, that when activated, generate a selected sound. Once however you feel you have gotten a feel for the 25 trigger layout, JAM Live Music Arcade ups the ante and brings in at most two more soundbanks giving you up to a total of 75 different sounds you can trigger for your music. Now this is where it really gets to be exciting. Let's say there's a song and you don't like the bass line, well switch a soundbank and now you can change it up in real time. JAM Live Music Arcade was created with support from a guitar accessory, however, if yours is broken, sold, lost, or otherwise out of reach, you can still use every feature of JAM Live Music Arcade on the Xbox 360 controller.


JAM Live Music Arcade is separated into two categories of gameplay: 1) JAM - A relaxed, musical session filled with creativity and enjoyment, and 2) Arcade - This could easily be argued the most intense and challenging music arcade mode ever conceived by man. In Arcade mode your song plays out for you and it is up to you to trigger the corresponding sounds by pressing the required button when the circle reaches the top bar. This is pretty straight forward and something that anyone who has played Guitar Hero or Rock Band will visually feel comfortable with. The real challenge of Arcade mode lies within the soundbanks. There are times throughout the songs that you will be required to not only activate multiple soundbanks at one time but also change them as requested by the song itself. This can be incredibly hard and frustrating, and since there isn't an easy difficulty to start out on, it's like taking your first swimming lesson by being thrown overboard off a cruise ship. You will try many times, and you will fail many times, however, when your ear tunes in and you hit that point in the learning curve where everything falls into place, JAM Live Music Arcade delivers a feeling of accomplishment and satisfaction that few games today can match.

This is more than just pressing a button when the colored icon hits the trigger line; JAM Live Music Arcade is training your ear to "hear the music". For most people, they hear a song and if they like it, they find enjoyment out of it, and if they hate it, it gets dumped. JAM Live Music Arcade however, trains your ear to hear and interoperate music on a deeper level than you probably never thought possible. Think of JAM Live Music Arcade as a tool that allows you to dissect music songs into various pieces that allow you to remix and develop the song piece by piece. Without question JAM Live Music Arcade provides the most in-depth and challenging music experience you can find on the Xbox 360.

While it does take a while to overcome the learning curve of the interface, the satisfaction achieved when everything finally "clicks" is something rarely found in video games today. Sure there are successful games where you can run around, shoot people, explore dungeons, and take you on a fantasy adventure, but there is no personal development actually happening. JAM Live Music Arcade actually helps you develop your hearing through a musical interface that you can control. This amazing software is easily worth the 800MS price point it's asking and if you enjoy music or music games, then it's a must have addition to your gaming collection.



Suggestions:
A few things would have made a big improvement on the score such as being able to select different sounds from different soundbanks and allowing you to switch soundbanks while still maintaining the original sound you wanted. So if there was a bass line in soundbank (A) that I loved but in a different soundbank there were synths that I wanted to use in soundbank (B), instead of changing everything when you switch soundbanks, allow me to keep my bassline from (A) when I switch to (B). Maybe a user interface similar to the programs of Logic, Ableton, and/or Reason to truly create the perfect music production game for the Xbox 360.


Overall: 8.8 / 10
Gameplay: 9.0 / 10
Visuals: 7.5 / 10
Sound: 9.0 / 10

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