Gameplay, Story and Value:
Lammy is a really hard game for me to review namely because, and research shows I’m not alone here, I can’t really play it! For the record, I’m a huge fan of music and rhythm games, and always find some level of success in playing them. This time, though, there was just some sort of disconnect that I can’t figure out how to work past.
As a rhythm game Um Jammer Lammy is broken up into several songs, each acting as a stage. At the top of the screen you’ll be shown a sequence of inputs which you’ll then need to mimic to the beat of the song. Despite being such a simple concept, there are two major issues.
The first is that either the timing of of the notes require laser precision, or I’m just really bad. The former seems to be the case, and I experienced this both in playing on the PS3 on an HDTV, as well as emulating the game with a <1ms monitor. I can always hit “a reasonable amount” of the notes, but always miss just enough to fall behind, and the thing is I could never tell why I’d even fall behind! I’d start a song doing great and then inexplicably start missing notes that I didn’t feel like I was actually missing. It was infuriating!
The second issue is that in order to move past the “Good” ranking and into the coveted “Cool” zone, you have to improvise. What this means is that you need to play notes that aren’t actually on screen, while maintaining the beat. At least, that’s what it means in theory. The reality is that once you know the note you’re supposed to be playing, you can just whale on the button like crazy and rack up a ton of points for it! This effectively ruins the game completely, at least for me.
It’s a shame too, because everything else about the game is fantastic. The characters are all wonderful, the stories are completely wacky as are the scenarios then end in you rocking your guitar. The game is just a total trip!
Presentation, Music and Sound:
A few rough edges aside, the game looks great. Characters are colorful and expressive, as are the environments. The visuals here are timeless, though they’d benefit from a cleaned up remaster I think. I loved watching this game as much as I loved listening to it!
Speaking of listening to the game… The voiceovers in the cutscenes are a little grainy and clearly of a lower quality than the music, but they work out fine. The music itself is where the game needs to and does shine! The songs are all super bizarre but also incredibly fun and catchy. Having not been able to progress far into the game, I ended up listening to the OST on Youtube while doing some menial tasks at work and I’m still humming most of them.
Going back to my issues with this game, however, there were some hiccups in the music department. For one, you’re apparently allotted a nano-meter wide margin of error when it comes to note entry. Hit the note on the pinpoint and your guitar sounds like a natural part of the song. Just a picosecond off and it sounds like a toddler jamming on an electric toy instrument. That’s a good segue into the second issue, which is the “improvising” to rack up a higher score, because jamming on an electric toy instrument like a toddler is EXACTLY what you’ll be doing!
I am a Master and You
Fun and Afterthoughts:
I so desperately wanted to have a good time with this game as I’ve been looking forward to playing it forever! I still don’t quite understand what the issues were that were preventing me from doing so, but I definitely couldn’t make any progress here. To compare, I fired up Parappa on an emulator and experienced the same issues, so maybe it is me… It really is a shame.