Today I got to try a demo of Jam Sessions, a new game for the Nintendo DS from Ubisoft. It’s due out in a month or two.
It’s basically a guitar synth. The buttons are used to “finger” different chords, then you pluck a virtual string displayed on the touch screen. You can use a real guitar pick, even.
The sound quality was pretty good. I have Electroplankton, and the sampled sound on that is pretty ropey. This I can imagine being used by geeky techno bands on stage. The keys are all reassignable, and the shoulder button works as a shift, so theoretically at least you should be able to play anything that needs less than 8 chords, which should cover a lot of rock music. You’re not going to be the next Robert Fripp, though.
You can also record your playing, presumably via some sort of onboard sequencer, though I didn’t get to try that. There’s a “karaoke mode”, which I expect was more than a little inspired by Guitar Hero.