is certainly not shy about releasing new entries in the blockbuster
"Hero" franchise. There seems to be a new version of Guitar Hero every
month, and maybe it won't be long before we're playing entire games
dedicated to Oingo Boingo and Boz Scaggs. But DJ Hero
is different. There's a new controller, a different take on rhythm
based gameplay, and most importantly, a whole new style of music.
We've gone over the controller and the specifics on how you play DJ Heroin great detail.
If you'd like to know more about how the controller feels check out the
end of this article for thoughts from our Gear Editor Scott Lowe and be
sure to watch our Interview with DJ Shadow. Recently Activision
let us get our hands on the full game for the first time where we tried
out versus mode, guitar and DJ multiplayer and the full career mode.
Although this was my first time with the deck, it only took a Jay-Z and
Jackson 5 mash-up to get me hooked and goofily bopping along to the
Jumping into the main game presents players with a spread of different
vinyl covers. Each one is either a challenge, or set of challenges based
around a specific DJ, or type of music. Since a turntable may not be as
familiar as a guitar to some players, there are thorough tutorial
levels that introduce the new format. Then, as you progress further into
the game, there are sets of challenges like DJ Shadow Presents, DJ
Yoda, Extended Play, DJ Jazzy Jeff, and a Jay Z Mixtape. Each one
contains a set of songs that you have to play through to unlock the next
vinyl. As you would imagine, the challenges get progressively more
difficult as the mixes get progressively more awesome.
As you unlock mixes in each category they become available for
Quicklist, a custom playlist which lists songs by difficulty and can
contain up to eight tracks. As my limited DJ skills improved and I
started progressing through the game I got a taste of just how intense
things become on the harder difficulty levels. Mastering the crossfader,
which is indicated by the note tracks moving to the left and right, is
key. Making it through a section with no mistakes charges up Euphoria,
which when activated not only boosts the bass but auto crossfades for
The Euphoria mechanic is a lot like Star Power, but there's a second
power-up that plays a large role in your score total if you can get it.
Score a long enough note streak and you'll activate rewind which allows
you to spin the record backwards to an earlier part of a song and retry a
section. This way you can extend a streak and score even more points.
Once you bump things up to hard mode there are plenty of directional
scratches, meaning you have to spin the record specifically forward or
backward to hit the note. Lastly, there are spikes for the crossfader.
Instead of moving the switch to the left, right, or center and keeping
it there, these require the player to quickly jerk the fader to a
position and bring it back -- a truly difficult technique.
So far, every mix I've heard from DJ hero has what it takes to be
included in a perfect party mix. There's even a special set dedicated to
turntables and a guitar playing together. These ten tracks have been
specially mixed to work with both instruments and are an excellent way
to get someone who might be intimidated by the new hardware into the
game. If you don't want to play guitar or DJ, there's microphone support
that allows you to MC the party. It isn't scored in any way, but it
does allow anyone to pretend they have the same skill set as Flavor
While Guitar Hero games have always been great for the people
playing, what about those who have to watch? Mostly they stand off to
the side listening to bad karaoke. In DJ Hero,
whether you're playing or not, you'll want to get off your ass and
dance. And if you're playing and badly need a dance break, you can
always hold the Euphoria Button (it's like star power) and the game will
jump into party mode which lets the music run without scoring or the
user interface. This is a welcome feature considering how good the music
is. Once you hear the full soundtrack it's easy to see why someone
would want this game at their party, whether it's being played or just
providing the soundtrack.
If your party attendees decide to they want to take control of the music
there's also versus mode. Two DJ's play against each other on a single
track for the high score, and the effects knob (it's like the whammy bar
in Guitar Hero) can only be used by one person at a time. This not only
changes the pitch of the track, it also doubles the current multiplier,
so it's key for posting high scores. The first person to use the knob
gets control of it for the duration of the effects-sensitive portion of
the track. You have to be something of a quick draw artist to get the
multiplier every time, and it makes multiplayer more than just note
When you jump into a song there's plenty of customization for your DJ
including appearance and all of the gear that comes with playing a show.
There are custom headphones, your deck, the deck design, and most
importantly your effects. Before each set you get to choose a package of
these custom sounds like an air horn or an MC screaming "Yeah Boy!"
over the music. The effects are mapped to the center (red) button on the
turntable and can be used throughout the song.
So far the DJ Hero
peripheral, the familiar presentation, and the music combine to make
for a very fun party experience. We look forward to getting our hands on
the game for even longer.
By IGN Gear Editor Scott Lowe
With the launch of DJ Hero, Activision
will yet again be introducing a whole new genre of music game to the
industry, and with it a whole new era of peripherals, beginning with the
DJ Hero turntable. Activision
is tapping into a completely new market of music fans with DJ Hero, and
with the included turntable peripheral, will bring a whole new
experience to the player. While the DJ Hero turntable is hardly an
authentic recreation of the mixing process, it does give a fairly
life-like vibe. With the DJ Hero turntable, Activision did a great job
of integrating the core gameplay controls and preserving aesthetic
authenticity. At first glance, you'd probably think that the DJ Hero
turntable controller could actually play vinyls – sooner or later you'd
realize that there are buttons on the disc platter, the absence of a
needle arm, and/or that the entire chassis is made of plastic, but you
get the point. But the looks only account for so much when it comes to
music game peripherals, what really matters is the feel and performance,
and we are happy to report that the DJ Hero turntable fares well in
this area -- for the most part.
The frame of the turntable is composed of fairly strong plastic and is
pretty tightly constructed with as few small, breakable parts as
possible. The two most seemingly vulnerable areas of the design are the
crossfader and control panel door, both of which seem like they could be
easily snapped off if forced or extended too far beyond their intended
range. Similarly, the crossfader is a little loose and we would like to
have seen some extra resistance for both the peripheral's long-term
durability and in-game feel. Additionally, the crossfader's middle notch
that gives a tactile indication of when the player has reached a
centered fade could have been a little more pronounced and made gameplay
a little more accessible for casual or entry-level players. Strangely,
the effects dial is devoid of any position notches and can be spun a
full 360-degrees, which eliminates the player's ability to both visually
and ergonomically identify which setting they are currently set to.
platter itself is perhaps the most impressive aspect of the turntable's
design, with a textured faceplate that looks and feels like a real
record and can be spun a full 360-degrees. What we enjoyed most about
the disc platter is that it isn't rigidly mounted to the frame, or in
other words, it allows for a little inward depression if you get really
into it. The buttons are reasonably sized and can accommodate finger
shapes and sizes of all varieties, and feature a textured vinyl-life
finish comparable to the rest of the platter faceplate. Unfortunately,
the vinyl-style texture doesn't afford a sizable amount of grip and we
would have liked to have seen a softer, rubber-like material used.
For those concerned about using the turntable as a lefty, the developers
instituted a rather ingenious flippable control pod design. In its
default righty-position, users will find a series of ports on the right
side of the control section. What isn't immediately recognizable is that
the ports are the same on the left side, making it simple for users to
simply detach and flip the control pod for left-handed use. Located
underneath the deck is an unlock switch, which detaches the control pod
and locks back in in the desired position.
We still have many questions about the DJ Hero turntable -- how does it
fare after extended use? How does the Renegade Edition compare to the
standard version? We'll have to wait to closer to release to get these
answers and render our final verdict, but from what we've seen so far,
we have high hopes for the DJ Hero turntable.