Lights are off, speaker volume is at maximum, turntable is set up, and the crowd is ready for me to start waxing the vinyl… or plastic. Fricka-fricka-swoosh (yes, that’s what scratching sounds like).
I was a bit skeptical of the game with how the original DJ game, Beatmania, flopped. Don’t remember Beatmania? That’s exactly my point. In any case, I took a huge risk and decided to buy it. The set-up was quick and painless, not like it’s drum kit counterpart, and I was able to quickly jump into the game. Upon starting, DJ Hero takes you through several tutorials with DJ guru Grand Master Flash: You learn to use the buttons, scratch, do rewinds, use euphoria (the equivalent of Guitar Hero’s star power), use the effects dial, and cross-fader. Whew… sounds like a lot doesn’t it? It takes some time to get used to all of the controls, but once you start to use them correctly you feel like you’re actually making the music.
DJ Hero really took steps to ensure a quality controller was made. It’s lightweight, yet sturdy. The cross-fader and platter feel surprisingly real, and they’re both highly responsive. The downside? Scratching can feel awkward at times with the heavy feel of the platter, and cross-fader sliding can get frustrating as it is easy to miss the fader’s center.
It follows your typical music game formula where you have to press corresponding buttons on beat. Of course, with it being a DJ game, what would it be without scratching and mixing? This is where the steep learning curve comes in. The game will have you using the cross-fader quite often to ‘switch’ between songs all while using the platter to scratch in various directions.
As the DJ, you can go through the standard single-player campaign and perform at various venues. Feeling frosty? Take your cut-chemist skills and pit them against others in an online battle mode or join them in a co-op session. Locally, you can even have a friend plug in their guitar for a dj/guitar jam session.
What makes this game standout is the music. The 90+ original mashups are all creative and get you to bop your head. With the likes of Daft Punk, DJ AM, DJ Jazzy Jeff, and DJ Shadow, you’ll be treated to some really good club and hip-hop music. Some of my favorites include:
- Bittersweet Symphony + All Eyez on Me (2Pac)
- I Just Wanna Love you (Jay Z and Pharrel) + Give it to Me (Rick James)
- My Name is (Eminem) + Izzo (Jay Z)
Like any music game in the market, it’s easy to learn, fun to play, but tough to master. Even though games like Guitar Hero, Band Hero, and Rock Band are thriving franchises, DJ Hero seems to target a very specific demographic. With an expensive peripheral and lack of constant music updates, I don’t think this game will do very well. Overall, I give this a 3 out of 5 stars. It’s not for everyone and I’m not entirely sure that the price tag is worth it. BUT… the ‘clubheads’ ought to have some fun with it. Replay Value: Moderate