Developer: FreeStyle Games
Release Date: 10/27/2009
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Rhythm games are pretty much mainstream these days. The days of the rare Guitar Hero are long gone, and everyone and their mom plays Rock Band, but DJ Hero was a spark and a light to revive this, and while it didn’t it does offer a different and new approach to rhythm games. Like the title says you use your turntable like a DJ and scratch, crossfade, and freestyle your way to the top. There are a lot of songs, and the game requires some hefty skills to master.
Like Guitar Hero, you must use both hands in unison to hit colored notes at the right time to score points. The notes are presented on a record on-screen that is in a semi-half circle and when you see jagged notes you press the button down while turning the record. Sometimes you’ll have arrows that are up or down to just scratch quickly in that direction. The left or right notes will always have a line going down and when they move to the left or right (looks kind of like a bracket or a quick 90-degree bend) you move your crossfader in that direction. This can be tricky especially in the higher difficulties since sometimes you’ll have to scratch, and crossfade at the same time, but over time you’ll nail it. You can do some mixing with the effects knob, but this seemed pretty useless. When the red line gets larger you can press the red button freely and select one of your effect noises, but this just seemed stupid and I never really used it.
If you nail highlighted areas you can use Star Power, and your button on the turntable will turn red. When you activate this the game will crossfade for you, but the fatal flaw here is that if it ends in the middle of a fade and your slider isn’t in the right position it’ll kill your multiplier, so you have to babysit it anyways. One last feature is the ability to rewind back the track a little bit to add to your score, but this isn’t as neat as you think. While the elements are nailed there are still a few issues.
There’s no real way to express your creativity since the freestyle is so restricted. There’s no freestyle zone where you can scratch and crossfade at will. While the song selection is large a lot of the mixes are repetitive and grate on your nerves after a while. It feels more like quantity over quality here. You have big names like Eminem, Jay-Z, Grand Master Flash, Run DMC, and some other rock groups mixed in, but only a select few are worth playing multiple times.
The game’s pretty customizable with lots of characters, skins, tables, stages, and all that good stuff so it makes you really want to try for five stars. Other than that the only thing is multiplayer which allows you to use a guitar controller on songs with rock bits. The game looks like any of the recent Guitar Hero games, but the price of admission is pretty high. As of this review, the price has dropped almost double, but upon release, it was $130 and that’s pretty steep. I recommend DJ Hero even to people who don’t like rap music because there’s a lot of fun and skills to be honed here.