JamLegend is well on its way to becoming the latest online gaming craze. A product of LaunchBox Digital, a Washington, D.C. based early-stage startup incubator, - sorry, they prefer to be called accelerator - JamLegend brings Guitar Hero style gaming to your browser. No need to buy any fancy controller, your keyboard will do just fine. You can even hold it upside down like a guitar if you so please.
True to Guitar Hero style, game play has remained fairly unchanged. You control 5 keys (like guitar frets), and the enter key for strumming when each note arrives.
Although, you only generally only need to control 3 keys in easy mode, and so on.
JamLegend starts getting interesting when you take into consideration some of the multi-player features and achievement system. Each song completed accrues you points as well as improves or hurts your global rating, depending on how your performance compares to your past performances. The global rating is part of a ladder ranking system making it easy to find how you and your friends have been performing compared to each other.
There are also a number of achievements you can complete that range from hitting a 750-note streak during a game, to inviting 3 friends. These achievements don't affect your global rating but nonetheless appear on your profile page and add-on to your number of "groupies."
There are two forms of multi-player gameplay on JamLegend. You can invite a friend to participate in an asynchronous duel, where each of you complete a game on your own time and the winner is displayed on the duels page. There are also showdowns that are in real-time and players can see each others' scores as they play.
On the order of business, JamLegend does have some links on each game page to purchase the song being played. Also, artists can approach JamLegend and get their songs into the game.
Let me preface this by saying, I am historically not a big gamer. I haven't touched my Wii in months. These days I feel like I'd rather be getting some work done than gaming. Naturally, this is a perfect fit for JamLegend. I don't have to go to the living room and turn on a console. I don't have to launch a full-screen game. I just have to create a new tab in the web browser I was already using and I can indulge in a no-commitment 4 minute game with ease.
The ability to create duels and easily compete with friends is a big aspect of JamLegend for me. The game is easy enough that I can tell a friend to sign up and we can start playing against each other within minutes. Case in point, I got my sister on JamLegend.
As for nitpicks, sometimes the graphics freeze for a second but the music and game are still going on in the background, causing me to miss a few notes. I attributed this to my MacBook Air and resource-intensive Flash but it also happened once when I introduced Skribit Co-Founder Calvin Yu to it on his MacBook Pro. Other than that, I'm just waiting on some more songs to get added to JamLegend.
JamLegend is currently in a closed beta. Andrew Lee of JamLegend has provided me with a metric ton of invites. The invite URL is in the first comment on this post.
Give it a whirl and let me know what you think.