There are a ton of game jams happening online at any point during the year. Many of these jams follow a theme and a timeframe, giving developers the challenge of creating a game with the restrictions around a specific jam. I am able to record loads of these games for each and almost every game jam. As I record them all, I pick out games that stand out to me, and games that I love from each individual jam. This article contains the games that I love from the ‘Music Game Jam.’
The Music Game Jam is a yearly jam which focuses on creating games that focus on the music within them. This jam focuses on exploring new implementations of music in games and taking new approaches to making music stand out — it’s not just focused on rhythm games! I played all of them in my compilation video series. Below are a few of my favorites, in a random order.
Open Source is a mock-coding, rhythm-based game with some amazing music! Mock coding is the easiest form of coding — you just need to hit keys on your keyboard at random (but quickly) to create a line of code. Once the line is full, you need to hit enter. This sounds easy, but as you type, grey dots fall from the left side of the screen.
These dots follow the beat and must collide with the circle at the bottom at the same time as you hit enter. If you hit enter too late or too early, you lose health from your ‘juice’ bar. If you can keep up with the pace, you start to get multipliers and some interesting comments in your code. If you fail, you get errors, bugs and other horrors appearing among your source code. Open Source is pretty fun to play around, gets challenging quite fast and has a few little jokes hidden in the code!
Kaotik Shop tasks you with owning and running your own musical instrument store! This store is pretty simple in its layout: a front show room that customers come into with a few different products to look at; a back room with more expensive items, parts, and your own drum set you can play; and a door that leads behind the counter in the main room. Customers come in and ask for different products, which you then need to give to them.
Some products like headphones are straightforward — you just need to bring it to them. Other things like keyboards and guitars take some putting together. You must get each element of the instrument and put them together in front of the customer. Once you have fulfilled their order, you receive money, which must be placed in the cash register. Customers don’t want to wait too long for their order, so be fast at getting everything you need! Kaotik Shop does take some getting use to, as there are a lot of things in this store — but owning and running your own shop is super fun to do!
Pitching is a very unique platformer which forces you to change the pitch of the background song to change the world and get to new place. You play as a music box, in control of the background music. You also control a sliding bar which makes the pitch higher and lower, respectively. The lower pitch is colored blue and the higher pitch is colored red, which is very important to keep in mind.
The world contains red and blue objects, which are all affected by how high or low the pitch is. Colored walls disappear if the pitch is in their color and giant spiked balls move faster or slower depending on the beat of the music. Managing your pitch becomes a necessary challenge as you need to move around the level. Each level has a door at the end which needs to be unlocked by a key. Sometimes there are also grey walls which need a key to disappear. Pitching is super challenging, and frankly, I suck at this game. (You can probably tell based on the GIF above). I just am not good at it. However, I do really love its innovation — the new twist on how to interact with the world around you. It’s well worth a shot — especially if you like challenging platformers!
Pixel Jam Band Defense
Pixel Jam Band Defense is a tower-defense–inspired game with a huge twist. Instead of placing loads of towers to destroy people walking across the screen, you have to place speakers around your band and design their music! Your main band are on a fixed point of the stage and each instrument corresponds to a different point on their sheet music. As the beat moves across this sheet, any points on it force the instrument to play. You get a limited number of points to place based on your stamina.
Once you have your music planned out, you get to listen to it as people pass. If you affect people enough, they enjoy your music and become groupies around the stage. Since your band is stuck in the middle of the stage, you need to purchase speakers to bulk out the sides of the stage and catch more potential fans. If you let too many people pass your stage, you give up your dream of being an awesome band. Pixel Jam Band Defense is really well done and the music you can create is very nice to listen to, too!
Mirai Rockstar – ミライロックスター
Mirai Rockstar has you playing a musician who just lost his office job. You used to love playing the guitar, but a stable office job came your way and you let go of your dream of being in a band. One day, your company suddenly went bankrupt — maybe that job wasn’t so stable after all. Defeated, you decide to go back to Japan and visit family. Your family was always supportive of your dream of being a musician and have set up some gigs for you now that you don’t have office work to do!
Each week you get to work a single gig, hitting keys at the correct time to fit your music. If you do well, you gain more fans and get to move onto bigger venues. After each gig, you talk with your family and express how happy you are with your current job and situation. If you play well, you might be able to grow your band and take on new musicians to help you thrive. Mirai Rockstar does have some spelling errors when it comes to the story, but it is a lovely story worth reading between some wonderful songs!
The Music Game Jam had a handful of other games entered into the jam for you to check out. These were just my personal favorites. On the jam page, it does mention a second Music Game Jam coming later this year, so keep an eye out for more wonderful, unique, music-based games.