We've been hoping for Daigasso! Band Bros to be released in the UK ever since 2005. We'd assumed that this Japanese rhythm game developed by Nintendo would never see the light of day over here until Nintendo revealed it out of the blue a month ago and gave it a new name.
Okay, the Japanese pop and anime songs have all been replaced with more popular Western music but the gameplay remains the same. You choose a song and instrument before playing along with the D-pad or buttons. There are various difficulty levels, not only for each song but also for the complexity of the controls as a whole.
When you first start out you'll be able to play any note by pressing any button or direction but later on the game splits the notes into two groups: some have to be played by pressing any direction on the D-pad and others are played by pressing any of the Y, B, X and A buttons.
It then gets even more complicated, with each of the D-pad directions and the four face buttons acting as a separate note. This makes pulling off a perfect solo in the F-Zero medley a hell of a feat but very rewarding. Experts can then play another difficulty level where you're not only using the D-pad and face buttons, but also the L and R buttons to change the pitch of the notes. This is incredibly difficult and even pros will fail miserably at this without a lot of practice.
Playing music is more satisfying than it is in Guitar Hero On Tour. When you mess up a note in Guitar Hero you get that generic 'clank' sound, but in Jam With The Band you'll hear the other note you played by mistake, making it feel like you're playing an actual instrument.
This satisfaction is multiplied when you get some mates to join in. Up to eight of you can play the same song at once, with each of you playing a different instrument with their own difficulty level. All it takes is one person to mess up for the song to take a nosedive.
As well as the 50 songs in the game you can download another 50 from Nintendo's servers, and you can also make your own songs and send them to friends, using a composer that lets you change the length of notes, have eight tracks, better-sounding instruments and so on. Finally, the karaoke mode lets budding Britneys and wannabe Whitneys sing into the DS microphone to have their pitch judged.
Jam With The Band may not have the flair of a Guitar Hero game, and its MIDI music might sound rather tinny, but it makes you feel like you're actually playing an instrument and that's the most important thing.
This is an edited version of a review that appears in the June issue of Official Nintendo Magazine which is on sale now. For the full unedited version with more in-depth analysis, screenshots and boxouts buy the magazine here