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JamParty: Be the Music

Score: 75%
ESRB: Not Rated
Publisher: Zivix
Developer: Zivix
Media: Download/1
Players: 1
Genre: Rhythm/ Editor/ Miscellaneous

Graphics & Sound:

JamParty: Be the Music is software that lets you fashion your own song out of a variety of loops. Therefore, the most important aspect of JamParty: Be the Music is definitely the music. It's what you interact with, what your desired output is and it even controls the visuals on the screen.

So, just what do you get to play with in the way of music? Well, first of all, I need to quickly point out that you're not going to be remixing the works of popular artists off the radio or MTV. The music included in the game is a collection of jams created by up-and-coming indie artists which were local to Zivix - specifically in Minnesota. Featured artists may show up as artists or producers, (for themselves or other artists). In fact, while there were a few bands I couldn't find anything on, such as "Those Aren't Dust Bunnies" and "The Generic Prescriptions," I was able to find most of the artists on MySpace Music, and have provided links to their MySpace Music pages in the Related Links section, below.

The graphical side of things is handled well, from some different, often trippy, visualizers which serve as venues to menus that are easy to use with keyboard, mouse or guitar controller. The venue animations respond to the changes you're making in the music, which can be fun sometimes, but I generally ignore the animations and concentrate on the U.I., which allows you to see at a glance what different parts are currently active for the different instruments, what bank is selected, what instruments are currently selected for editing and where you are in the phrase timing - a clock-like dial that indicates the timing. This "clock" starts pointing straight up and moves around clockwise. When the indicator gets back to the top, you are at the loop's repeat.


It seems that JamParty: Be the Music is, technically, but just barely, a game. This is not a slam against the product, itself, but an explanation of the nature of the product. JamParty is sort of an interactive music sequencing software, which allows you to experiment with the provided tracked assets and create your own musical creation by playing different parts at different times. This is what's defined as play, not a game. However, JamParty: Be the Music has a scoring system that awards you points. Hence, it's a game. Mind you, I haven't had much luck determining how I am gaining points other than simply spending time playing with it, but as I play through songs a few times, I gain points which, once they reach certain levels, unlock additional songs and venues.

Game versus play aside, it is fun to play around with JamParty: Be the Music. There is a fairly wide variety of music genres covered in the 30 musical "Jams" that ship with the game, from Orchestral to Rock to Techno and even a very Country sounding jam - plus a few Experimental jams of different types. If you like a couple of genres of music, you're likely to find something worth playing with here. For that matter, even if you don't, you may be interested in playing around with the upcoming Downloadable Content. There was none available as of this writing, but there were six DLC downloads described in the JamParty Store as "coming soon," three of which are priced at $1.99 USD and three of which are free.

Play consists of selecting a jam, either one of the original jams provided with the game or a song you've already made from one of those jams, selecting a venue and then selecting instruments and specific sound loops to build a song. You control what sounds are playing when, but, for most of the sounds, you're controlling whether or not the sounds are heard; their timing is already synchronized, so that the instruments will sound good together. A few instruments allow you to play sound effects "on demand," allowing you to actually cue the sound effect when you want to, but there aren't many of those included in the jams that come with the game.


As I mentioned above, the scoring is somewhat of an add-on or after-thought; pretty much whatever you do in JamParty: Be the Music will earn you points towards unlocking the next song and/or venue, so simply keep playing around with it.

As far as difficulty in actually using JamParty: Be the Music, the included tutorial level does a good job of quickly explaining how to play, and the ability to use a USB guitar controller (Rock Band- or Guitar Hero- compatible) or a keyboard and mouse makes it easy to do what you want. More complex manipulations will be dependent on your sense of rhythm, pitch and musical arrangement, but JamParty: Be the Music should offer entertainment for anything from casual gamers to experienced musicians.

Game Mechanics:

The ability to use Guitar Hero- and Rock Band- compatible instruments is a nice feature, as is the ability to use your keyboard. I find it very convenient that they're not mutually exclusive, either. I can play for a bit using a guitar controller, then grab the mouse and click on something or switch up something with the keyboard, if I want and then go back to using the guitar controller.

The way the controls are actually set up can be a little confusing at first, but allows for a great deal of variety from a controller that has, primarily, five buttons: (Green), (Red), (Yellow), (Blue) and (Orange). To make the most of these, strumming up and down have different effects; strumming up while holding down colored buttons selects the color-coded instruments of those corresponding colors for editing. Strumming down while holding some combination of the colored buttons activates those different sound loops in whatever instruments are currently selected. So, you can Hold down (Green) and strum up to select the Drums, then Hold down (Yellow) and strum down to play the third loop (Yellow color-coded) for the Drum instrument (Green color-coded instrument). By the same token, if you hold down all five colored buttons and strum up and then down, you will select all of the instruments (strumming up) and then play all of the sounds loops for each of those instruments (strumming down). It may sound cumbersome, but it's not that bad once you use it a bit. There will be times, however, when you want to quickly change both instrument and sounds, for example, where it can be quite tricky to accomplish exactly what you want while playing live.

Luckily, you don't have to nail everything the first time and play everything in a single play through. You can play parts of your song as you play all the way through it, then save off what you've got when you get to the end. Then, you can choose My Performance (instead of Jam) and select your previous creation and layer new sounds on top of your performance and even edit it as you go. When you're done, you can easily drop your musical creation to MP3 and listen to it or share it.

JamParty: Be the Music works well, as a product, but its musical selection may feel a bit limited to gamers who have grown accustomed to well-known popular artists in their musical games. That might be somewhere near the crux of the matter; casual music gamers who like Guitar Hero and Rock Band might be attracted to JamParty's increased creativity, but displeased with the lack of popular artists, while more hardcore musicians / music gamers may be fine with the lack of popular artists, but feel that the music placement / timing is restricting and the sound samples and loops are too few for any given "jam," since you only have access to the sounds from one bank of the current jam at any given time. Those with less interest in creativity have Guitar Hero and Rock Band, while those with more creativity who can handle more complexity can play with MTV Music Generator or eJay Techno 4. If you're somewhere in the middle and looking for the ability to play around with music, JamParty: Be the Music might be just what you're looking for.

-Geck0, GameVortex Communications
AKA Robert Perkins

Minimum System Requirements:

Windows XP / Vista / Windows 7, 2.0 GHz, 512MB RAM, 128MB Graphics Card (recommended pixel shader 2.0 compatible), DirectX 9.0c

Test System:

MS Windows XP Home Edition, AMD Dual-Core, 3.11 GHz, 2 GB RAM, Award Modular BIOS v6.00PG, Gateway HD2201 21" HDMI Monitor, Sony SDM-HS73 Monitor, ATI Radeon HD 2400 (256 MB), USB MixAmp, A30 Gaming Headset, Realtek HD Audio, Creative SB X-Fi, 1.5 TB Western Digital Caviar Green SATA Hard Drive, Sony DVD RW, Cable Modem, VAIO Mouse

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Game Vortex :: PSIllustrated