Commodore 64 version
An excellent music-themed game that involves a lot of color
Jammin’ is an excellent game, made by a small British company called Taskset, whom I have great respect for. This is because they made original games that were quite addictive. Unfortunately, the game was overshadowed by the company’s excellent Super Pipeline, which was also released in the same year. Excuse the use of metaphors, but seeing everything on the screen reminds me of beaches, rivers, and houses.
As soon as the game finished loading, I was impressed by the way that the title was not a static screen, rather some eye candy in which you see an animated title, along with some text appearing character by character. This is followed by the customization screen, small attract mode, and the high scores. Among the customization options are the number of players, starting level, number of lives, and skill level. Since this game can be slightly difficult, those who are new to the game should start with eight lives with the easy difficulty tag set.
An unusual mechanic of this game is the levels count down, not up. The reason behind this is that you are Rankin’ Rodney, a musician trying to dominate every position in the top twenty with your hit singles. This can be achieved by collecting four instruments – saxophone, guitar, trumpet, and keyboard, located on different areas of the screen – and carrying them back to your house. Rodney is one of those dictatorial types that says "You listen to my singles, or you listen to nothing." As soon as you start the game, you will be hit with a multitude of colors. Indeed, color and music play an important role in the game.
Your home consists of four rooms painted brown, yellow, green, and blue, respectively, and these all have doors. At the back of each one is a triangle-shaped cupboard in which you can store one instrument. They are found on beaches, and the colored sand corresponds to each room of the house. To reach one of these beaches, you have to traverse several rivers, whose currents take you to different areas. Each river has different shades, and you need to step on a shade whose color corresponds to the beach. Stepping on a shade causes the background color to change as well. Some shades contain diamonds that you can also walk on, giving you the ability to change colors easily.
Once an instrument is retrieved, one of the triangles will flash to indicate which one of the doors you have to go through. But getting one of the instruments triggers a challenge, which is getting it back to your home without coming into contact with any musical notes, thieves, or organisms sunbathing on the beaches. You cannot afford to chase enemies as you have to bring home all four instruments within a set amount of time. Running out of time or touching an organism results in a loss of life. I like how game takes your attention away from the action to the flashing time counter to let you know that you have several seconds left.
The in-game music varies depending on where you are. From where you start off in each level, only the percussion can be heard until you are traveling along the river where you can hear the bass as well. Collecting an instrument results in a full-blown orchestra, and you will want to keep the momentum going until you carry the instruments back to your home. Some of the tunes last for twenty seconds, while some will go for much shorter than that. They become out of tune if you hit any enemies along the way, and it remains like this as long as they are holding the instrument. If you happen to touch a sunbathing organism, the full song is played but it will be full of static. Almost all the songs are memorable, including one that resembles the title tune from Yie Ar Kung-Fu for the Commodore 64.
If you get an instrument in an area where there is already an enemy, you have to kill it before you can get the instrument. You are given no chance to make a getaway before it respawns; it does so immediately after you get the instrument, in the same area. Also, since you and the enemies are all painted black, it’s hard to tell where you are.
The Bottom Line
Jammin’ has an interesting gameplay with unusual mechanics. Both color and music are the themes here. You have to collect four instruments to earn that spot in the Top 20 charts, avoiding the numerous enemies that stand in your way. The graphics and sounds are great, and there is a great deal of customization that makes the game easy or hard. An excellent game, overall.
by Katakis | カタキス (43051) on February 25th, 2022