Guitar Hero had removed every shred of dignity from the once proud profession of "rocking out," along comes Paper Jamz to do away with all pretense. WowWee, known primarily for its creepy robotic toys, has put some of its technical chops into a new musical line of utterly flat instruments. The "paper" guitar and drum sets use capacitive sensors to pick up on touch, and there's even a fake amp built of cardboard to complete the ensemble.
Surprisingly, it all works. Each $25 guitar is packed with three different songs, and pretend rock stars can strum along in three different modes: a fail-safe mode where all you have to do is keep strumming and you'll jam out the appropriate guitar part, a rhythm mode where you have to strum at the right intervals, and a freestyle mode. The last of these is where things actually get interesting, since there's a usable fret board in so-called open E tuning, letting you select actual cords by placing a finger on its respective fret up or down the printed-on fret board. One finger does major, two fingers does minor, and three fingers does a 7th. It's an approximation, sure, but it actually could teach a kid a lot more about how to play a real guitar than Guitar Hero ever will. Prepare to hear more 12-year-olds playing "Smoke on the Water" than you ever supposed the universe was capable of containing. The modes on drums are similar, and you can pair up drums and guitar to play the same song simultaneously. The $15 amp uses a sonic transducer to vibrate its entire, cheap cardboard mass, and is actually rather loud. The "Series 1" selection of guitars and drums will be out in early July, and you can check out a video of this stuff in action after the break.