I really wanted to subtitle this review — When Xbox Live Indie Games Don’t Suck. Jam Souls’ gameplay is simple in its delivery, but I was really amazed by the level of polish and quality that Chromatic Dream was able to pack into the experience. So just what is Jam Souls? In short, it’s the story of Pandora–Greek mythology’s first human woman who receives a jar as a gift from the Greek God Zeus. Many writings call this gift Pandora’s Box. Pandora opens the gift and unleashes all the evils known to humanity. These ‘evils’ are the playable characters in a single and multiplayer platformer, sports and arena combat mashup.
The core of Jam Souls! play is a re-imagining of the old Joust and original Mario Brothers games. You choose your character and then set the parameters for Deathmatch, Capture and Sport contests. These contests can be played locally with friends or using CPU controlled bots.
I’d say Jam Souls! is best suited for our Tourist category. Tourists are gamers who love quick and fun games that don’t wear out their welcome. Jam Souls! is perfect for having a quick good time in a gorgeous world.
I enjoyed playing Jam Souls! in all its modes. The controls are sharp, the visuals are beautiful and the soundtrack suits the game perfectly. Each of the three game modes offer their own unique sense of fun and allow you to play for a few hours without the game getting boring or overly repetitive.
Deathmatch was my favorite game mode. The differences between the playable combatants are mostly cosmetic, so there’s no need to worry about a particular character being over or underpowered. In deathmatch – much like in joust – you win by jumping on the heads of your enemies and absorbing their essence. Absorb enough essence and you’ll be treated to your character’s unique super attack that makes you unbeatable for a short period of time. There are also powerups laced throughout each level allowing you to out-maneuver your enemies.
Capture and Foot keep the same combat theme as deathmatch, but focus on collecting orbs from your opponents’ camp and returning it to yours and either kicking a ball into a goal or shooting a basketball into a hoop respectively. You can still take out your opponents by jumping on their heads to get them out of the way or to stop them from reaching their camp with your orbs.
Overall, Jam Souls! is a ton of fun to play, if for a short time. This is not the type of game I’ll log 40 hours playing in a month. But, it is a game that I could go back to time and again to enjoy on weekends with my son when we just want to kill some time. In short, Jam Souls! is one of the best titles on Xbox Live’s Indie Marketplace. If you like quick fun and cheap games, I have no problem recommending that you pick up Jam Souls! for a buck on XBLIG.