Jam Sessions

This is one of the “games” that will likely get me to finally shell out for Nintendo’s DS Lite. The three weeks I spent indulging in a preview copy on a borrowed DS were rather satisfying. As with Electroplankton, you touch a stylus to the screen to create sounds, except in this case you’re playing an actual, well, virtual instrument: six-string guitar. You change chords with the D-pad. The stylus can be strummed soft or hard, fast or slow. And the responsiveness was impressive, especially considering you’re playing a pocket-sized system. There are note-by-note, karaoke-like instructions for a range of contemporary and classic rock and pop songs. Personally, I enjoyed simply tinkering with chord changes and all the effects.

If you’re a musician, this could be a fun, albeit potentially-productive, way to pass a long flight. If you’re not a musician, this is a solid way to learn chords and songs by doing, but without investing in an object that will take up space or make too much noise. With Jam Sessions, you can put on headphones and rock out whenever, wherever. Some say gaming — and the web, too — causes a disconnect between you and the “real world.” That said, playing Jam Sessions inspired me to dig out my retired, old steel string to try out some of the digital ditties I composed while riding public transit.

Jam Sessions
$20

Manufactured by Ubisoft

Available from Amazon

Here's a cover of Tom Petty's "Free Fallin"; if you know the song, the sound from the game should be pretty convincing. At 00:44, you get the full effect.