DJ Heroes – Review

 The last time the DJ heroes course of development of console rhythm games changed noticeably already two years ago – with the release of Rock Band. Since then, DJ heroes and all the “musician simulators” from the flagship of the genre have not dared to break out of the formula “guitar + bass + drums + microphone.” But everything is changing.

​The source of inspiration did not have to go far – according to the scheme already worked out on Guitar Hero, the old Japanese classic from Konami – Beatmania was taken as a role model. However, DJ Heroes borrowed only the core idea, while the turntable controller and the actual game mechanics were developed practically from scratch.

Traditionally, the gameplay is based on “notes” moving along three tracks. When passing through the control line at the bottom of the screen, the player must press the corresponding button on the turntable.

 As in Guitar Hero, there are “long notes” – scratches, during which the button must be held down, and the “plate” of the controller moved back and forth. To continue the analogy with the guitar series: the role of the whammy-lever is played by the pitch switch. Sequentially scrolling it in different directions, the player gets twice as many points.

 True, it can use only in certain zones, and it works in different ways – its effect can extend both to anyone track and all three at once. Star Power, which also increases the number of earned points, is called “euphoria” in DJ Heroes. As before, presented for the perfect passage of especially highlighted sections of the song. Another way to get bonus points is to rewind the record, an opportunity given for playing very well.

Apart from this innovation, the game mechanics are very similar to Guitar Hero. This impression is vivid only at the low level of difficulty. Already on medium, an essential element appears – switching tracks. Thanks to him, in addition to the “notes,” the paths themselves, along which they move, become full-fledged participants in the action. The player, as DJ heroes, has to monitor them closely and set a particular switch (crossfader) to the desired position in time.

Fingers from this, contrary to fears, do not get tangled and do not break – all the controls are located on the controller very well. But that’s not all! At the hard level, some “notes” have to be performed simultaneously with the movement of the plate in a particular direction. Thus, the difficulty of the game when changing the level increases not so much because the “notes” climb more often and more inconveniently (although this factor is present in DJ Hero), but due to the need to learn to use new techniques. It is not hard to understand that the attractiveness of replaying is only increasing.

Almost at the same time as DJ Heroes, a very similar game of the same theme was announced – Scratch: The Ultimate DJ. 7 Studios developed it at that time, and the controller was created by Numark, the world world world’s largest manufacturer of DJ equipment. Outwardly, it very much resembles the devices from the console Beatmania: five of the seven keys and a “plate” migrated to the device, and the crossfader made up their company. Judging by the early videos, also borrow the gameplay from the Japanese source.

 The player taps the theme on the keys most of the time, only occasionally resorting to scratching. However, even in this form, the game could compete with DJ Heroes – there are a lot of Beatmania fans in the West. But – began a streak of failures: Activision bought the developers with giblets, and the publishers had to pull the game code ready at that time through the courts.

However, it makes sense to return only to individual tracks – there is no complete single-campaign in DJ Hero. Instead, a system of sets containing several songs is proposed. As you gain stars for completing fresh compositions, more and more new locations are opened.  

The game is connected with the “big brother” of Guitar Hero by a unique multiplayer mode, in which one player at the turntable joins the second with a plastic guitar. Likewise, however, only a limited set of mixes are allowed to play. As you can see, more important for the developers was another mode – “turntable on the turntable.” The likelihood of finding two controllers from DJ Heroes in one room at once seems too ghostly. You have to be content online.

By the way, remember how the remaining members of the Sex Pistols gathered explicitly for Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock and re-recorded Anarchy in the UK? It seems that it is no longer fashionable to brag about the tracklist from the master recordings – in DJ Heroes, absolutely all 93 compositions are explicitly created for the game. Most of them are a team of developers, but some of the mixes were made by famous DJs from around the world – DJ Shadow, Grandmaster Flash, Scratch Perverts, and the Daft Punk duo; many of them are available as playable characters. 

Songs of a wide variety of genres, from hip-hop to metal, served as the basis. I don’t know who FreeStyleGames studied with, but their mixes and those created by guest stars are beyond science fiction; even now, they publish many compositions on a separate disc. Of course, like any Activision rhythm game,

The wealth of customization compared to guitar serials, however, has faded. There are about fifteen characters to choose from, both original and licensed, a dozen turntables with several skins each, and about the same number of headphone models. The locations are completely nondescript, even though they do not distract from the game (the primacy in originality still belongs to Guitar Hero 5), like all the background graphics in general.


But these are all nuances. DJ Heroes was a success. They got off the ground with an excellent start. How her fate will turn out further – we will not guess, wait. Fortunately, this waiting will not be boring.