um jammery lammy classic guitar jamming game

Though learning to play guitar may be one of the best things that you ever decided to do ,it can’t hurt to take a break once in a while. Most people that think of music games immediately go to titles such as Guitar Hero and Rock Band, but these games have the danger of making the budding beginner think that he or she is actually progressing with an instrument when in fact all they are doing is getting better at pressing buttons in time to a few different tracks using a controller that is shaped like an instrument – this is not quite the same as having actual applicable musical skill.

For a game that gives you some true tuition in an entertaining way, it may benefit you to check out guitar game sensation Rocksmith, but I’d actually like to take us back to the old school for a second. Remember Parappa the Rapper? Well whether you do or not, it was a classic music game, and Um Jammer Lammy is a follow up that exists in the same make-believe world but delivers a decidedly different musical experience.

Um Jammer Lammy takes us way back to 1999 and to the Playstation One (not to be confused with any current-gen nonsense on account of the fact that the Xbox One is the latest console from Microsoft), with all of the memories and warm nostalgia that comes with it. The game basically involves getting Um Jammer Lammy – an aspiring musician who plays in a band –to her gig that she is a little late for, and improving her general mood and self-worth while you’re at it. With no fancy instrument-shaped controller inputs like in the modern Rock Band games, you have to rely on the trusty old original Playstation controller (or more likely the PS3’s controller if you’re playing it on the more modern console without all those annoying wires).

The gameplay itself is much like any other rhythm-based music game in so much as you must tap specific buttons in time with the music. There is a tiny icon at the top of the screen that moves in time with the music over specific buttons that must be pressed, which looks extremely primitive compared to today’s Guitar Hero games which have a slickly-designed guitar neck with 3D icons passing over it and all sorts of visual bells and whistles. Um Jammer Lammy is without all of these then-superfluous extras and gets down to basics of simply pressing buttons as the tiny icon passes across them.

You shouldn’t be expecting any songs that you will recognise in this game either since its soundtrack is entirely original, though this shouldn’t deter or surprise you considering the game is around 14 years old. The choice of songs aren’t quite as cool as those in Parappa the Rapper either but they are funky enough to get you into the swing of things and enjoying every tap of the triangle, circle, x, and square buttons.

Where the game really shows its age is the graphics, but an old game should not be judged by its aesthetics purely because one must factor in the hardware limitations of the time. For its time, Um Jammer Lammy has some brilliant 2D-style graphics which were extremely vibrant and highly colourful; there is something quite unusual and exciting about being in control of an entire cartoon-like universe. The sound quality is also as great as can be expected but the range of different music genres is also quite impressive as well. Far from the hip-hop and rap of Parappa, Um Jammer Lammy has an eclectic mix ranging from grunge to metal and everything in between.

Of course, as music games go, this one is a relic from the past but is still as fun to play today as it was all those years ago and is much more favourable than flash music games like Battle of Rock Gods. Like I mentioned, this isn’t a game to further your guitar or musical skills but rather one to allow you to take an on-theme break from intensive guitar tuition whilst remaining in the musical sphere. While guitar tuition game Rocksmith may teach you how to play guitar, Um Jammer Lammy will teach you to have some music fun in true 1999 style that continues the visual style of Parappa the Rapper.