Instant Jam on Facebook: New music game more than a Guitar Hero knock-off

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In many ways, Instant Jam is one of the more ambitious games on Facebook. On the surface, it looks like nothing more than a Rock Band or Guitar Hero knock-off. And it's easy to come to that conclusion -- just like Rock Band and Guitar Hero, notes fly down a music runway, and you must strike the corresponding button on your plastic guitar-shaped controller at the right moment. However, Instant Jam does something that's almost unheard of in music gaming. You can play any song you want as long as it's on your computer. This feature alone makes Instant Jam an instant success.

When you begin Instant Jam, the game will automatically catalogs your music library. This can be glitchy sometimes if your music is stored on an external hard disk. Also, large music libraries take a while to catalog. Once your library is cataloged, you can rock out to any of your favorite songs as long as there is a note chart for that song. While you may not be able to play every song imaginable, you can play what seems like infinitely more songs than Rock Band or Guitar Hero. What's more important is that the songs on your playlist are songs you already own. So you don't have to worry about DLC or being forced to play songs you'd rather not listen to. On the flip side, if there is a song with a note chart that you do not own yet, the game provides an easy to use menu system so that you can quickly grab the song from Amazon or iTunes. You get the feeling like InstantAction, the developer behind Instant Jam, was pulling a Sean Parker on the music industry much like Napster did in the 90s.

If you're a veteran music sim player you can use your existing Rock Band or Guitar Hero guitar with the game as long as you have a USB adapter. Otherwise, you can play the game like you were using Garage Band on the Mac with your keyboard. A, S, D, F, and G correspond to the Orange, Blue, Yellow, Red and Green buttons respectively. The game doesn't present you with a tutorial so that you would know those are the buttons. PC Gamers will quickly know to check those buttons out, however others will need to poke around the interface for the settings (it's the cogwheel on the lower right hand corner of the screen). Playing on your keyboard isn't as fun as playing on a plastic guitar but it still manages to be enjoyable since you're playing your favorite music.

Instant Jam also allows you to play songs you don't own without music. So if you just want to tap away to boost your cash and fan base, you're more than welcome to.

The game operates more or less like the campaign mode in Rock Band. You gather fans and money as you play. The game also makes note of your accuracy and awards you with up to five lightning bolts for a successful performance. You can then unlock new items and use your money to purchase cool guitars. In honor of Halloween, there is currently a special Pumpkin Guitar available for 250,000.

The game does have a few social features. You can get fans just for visiting your friends' profiles and seeing what song they recently played. You can also post music challenges to friends. One limitation in the game is the number of songs you can play. Much like Mafia Wars or FarmVille, you've got to pay if you want to accumulate fans at a faster rate or if you just want to play for fun. After you've played a few songs, you will be required to take a break for over an hour before you can play any more songs. You can buy more "plays," but it will cost you real world money.

As part of its beta promotion, Instant Jam is allowing users embed the Instant Jam application on their personal blogs. So if you want to jam from the comfort of your home on your own web page you can do that too.

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