There’s Potential, But Glitches Prevent Instant Jam from Making It Big
Instant Jam, a game that tries to capitalize on the popularity of Facebook social network gaming and rhythm action games like Guitar Hero or Rock Band, has a lot going for it. It also has an awful lot of technical glitches that are making this album a hair above Glitter in terms of quality.
The game lets you use your music library to play a game that looks very reminiscent of Guitar Hero, with five fret buttons, rapid-fire notes flying at you, scoring, bonuses and star power. What separates Instant Jam from most other games is not only this ability to import your own music (not really seen since the classic Phase for the iPod Classic!) but also a huge online database of songs the game “knows.” If you have that tune, Instant Jam will make the level for you.
If, though, you don’t own the game, Instant Jam provides links to purchase the track via Amazon or iTunes. It’s clear that this is some sort of affiliate program, but the convenience is most welcome.
You can also send challenges to your friends who are also playing the game, and win fans to level up. At first, you’re restricted to playing only three songs per day, but add more as you progress. You can also purchase new guitars, new backgrounds and the like.
To sweeten the deal, Instant Jam lets you break out any compatible plastic guitars you have and play the game using them. It beats playing with the keyboard, and brings the whole experience to a new level.
The idea of being able to play virtually any song you like is too amazing an idea. Admittedly, playing guitar to Huey Lewis and then Muse was a little surreal, but that’s what you’re able to do.
It all sounds too good to be true, right? Well, that’s because it kind of is. Instant Jam has been mired in “beta” mode for a while – over two months at time of writing – and doesn’t seem to be getting much better. A lot of tunes simply wouldn’t load, the browser would crash, or tunes would partially load. When they did load, sometimes the notes coming down wouldn’t really line up with the song the way you’d expect.
There are other issues as well. Hypothetically, there are four difficulty levels, Novice through Expert. Some songs only had two of the four difficulties – either really easy or really hard – and few had all of them. The database may be big, but there are a lot of gaping holes.
Instant Jam has a mountain of potential. If it can be cleaned up, it could be one of the biggest games on Facebook. But right now, it’s not much more than a garage band hoping to get a big break.