Available now in Japan under the name Daigasso! Band Brothers, the game currently known as Jam With the Band in North America is a rhythm game that asks you to press the DS's D pad and buttons in time with a variety of different songs and instruments. It also offers an interesting use for the system's microphone.
Band Brothers is broken up into a few different modes. The single-player mode lets you simply pick one of the game's songs, pick which part of the song you want to play, and get to work. But there's also an event mode that takes the choices out of your hands and challenges you to complete three different songs. Winning here unlocks more parts of available songs and even more songs for you to play.
The game uses the top screen to display a series of boxes that denote each beat of a measure. Indicators appear to show you which button to press, when to press it, and how long you should hold it. At first, you only need to hit either the D pad or any one of the buttons. But before long, the game breaks these apart to specific directions and buttons, and then also works the L and R triggers into the mix. As in other rhythm games, you're scored on how accurately you press and hold the buttons.
The Japanese version of Band Brothers contains a lot of different songs, including several J-pop and anime theme tracks. Most immediately interesting to the foreign ear is the game's collection of Nintendo medleys. The Mario medley takes you through several different Mario themes, including tunes from Super Mario Land for the Game Boy, Super Mario World, and more. Another Nintendo medley gives you tunes from songs like Balloon Fight and Ice Climber. The Legend of Zelda, too, gets its own track in the game. These are all well done, portraying the game's soundtracks with some very Super Nintendo-like MIDI.
You'll also be able to create your own tracks. You can use the stylus to draw notes, but, more interestingly, you can also hum into the system's microphone and have the game automatically translate that into a score. This method isn't perfect, and requires you to have pretty decent pitch if you hope to re-create a song in the game. You can't get too close, though, as the game seems to automatically drop your melody in front of one of four different preset background tracks. On the multiplayer side, you can play with up to eight players in a scored match, or play with an infinite number of DS players in an unranked jam session.
So far, Jam With the Band seems to be a pretty decent rhythm game, and the microphone support is a weird new addition that should be fun to mess around with. No US release date has been confirmed, but it sounds like the game will be hitting North America sometime next year, presumably with a heavily reworked list of songs. We'll bring you more on the game as it becomes available.