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DJs Are Not Rockstars. But Are They Heroes?

Once I saw DJ Hero being played in front of me, everything clicked.

DJ Hero is a bit easier to wrap your mind around once you've watched someone play it.
DJ Hero is a game that you'll probably need to see in motion before it makes much sense. And I'm not talking about just watching a gameplay video. You'll need to see someone actually using the controller. Now that I've seen someone using the controller and gotten a brief demo of what, exactly, the different buttons do, DJ Hero looks like an interesting and unique twist on the rhythm game formula.

Initially, the only part that seems to directly translate over from the Guitar Hero games are the three note lanes that come down the highway. When gems come down those lanes, you need to hit the matching buttons on the turntable. When lengthier stretches come down the pike, you can start scratching the turntable back and forth. And when the lanes move out to one side or the other, that's your cue to slap the crossfader in one direction or the other.

There are also opportunities to turn a multi-effect knob that seems to function sort of like the whammy bar on a Guitar Hero guitar and a button that will turn on euphoria mode, which is the game's equivalent to star power. All told, it looks more dynamic and more authentic than, say, the piano keys and unexpressive turntable used by the Beatmania series. Also, the controller is surprisingly light and feels pretty nice. The rubber mat used on the turntable make gripping it for scratching or rewinding easy. You can detach the mixer section from the turntable and connect it to the other side, allowing for a left-handed configuration. This also allows for two turntables to be hooked up simultaneously, but that's not going to actually do anything in-game. Hey, they have to save something for the inevitable sequel, right?

Musically, DJ Hero is described as a mash-up game that combines two tracks into one. When word of that first got out, I was sort of depressed about it, because most of the mash-ups that get out there simply slap the vocal track from one song onto the instrumental from the other. Maybe the guy putting them together takes the time to chop up the vocals a bit or transpose one track into the key of the other, but most of the mash-up work out there feels like amateur hour. So it's good that Activision and FreeStyleGames are going further than that. These mixes--some of which have been created by skilled individuals such as DJ Shadow and DJ Z-Trip--have some genuine turntablism to them, with chopped-up vocals, elements of both instrumental tracks, and some extra samples to fill it out even further.

You'll still build streaks in DJ Hero.
So crossing songs like Gwen Stefani's Hollaback Girl with Rick James' Give It To Me ends up sounding a lot better than you'd initially think. And Activision's licensing department has obviously shifted into overdrive to make DJ Hero happen, since they'll have to license twice as many tracks than they have songs in the game. So don't assume that the announced numbers of somewhere over 100 songs being licensed for the game will mean that this will have the longest set list of any modern rhythm game. Chop that number in half and you'll have a better idea about where the final number of playable tracks may end up. Speaking of numbers, it's also been announced that ten of the game's tracks will feature support for the Guitar Hero guitar, setting up a "DJ vs. Guitar" mode where one player cuts it up on the ones and ones while a second player plays guitar, complete with a very GH-like highway on-screen. The game will also have microphone support, but not for any actual gameplay. If you plug in a mic, it will let you speak through it during gameplay. So if you want to be one of those awful club DJs that's always shouting their own name while they mix, go right ahead. Jerk.

Previous attempts to turn record spinning into gameplay have left me almost totally disappointed. That's not to say that the Beatmania games are bad, but the turntable in that game may as well have been a button. Despite some weird-sounding stuff, like putting buttons on the record itself, DJ Hero ends up looking and feeling a bit more like the real thing than the games that have come before it. And after seeing it in action and talking to a couple of the people behind the game, I've come away from the demo feeling pretty excited about the game's 2009 release. The one big question still remaining is the price. While retailers have been listing the game as a 10/27 release for $120, Activision isn't confirming that date or that price, and would only say that the price would likely be closer to the neighborhood of the guitar-and-game Guitar Hero bundles, which are more like $99.99.

  

Jeff Gerstmann on Google+
38 Comments
Posted by Jeff
DJ Hero is a bit easier to wrap your mind around once you've watched someone play it.
DJ Hero is a game that you'll probably need to see in motion before it makes much sense. And I'm not talking about just watching a gameplay video. You'll need to see someone actually using the controller. Now that I've seen someone using the controller and gotten a brief demo of what, exactly, the different buttons do, DJ Hero looks like an interesting and unique twist on the rhythm game formula.

Initially, the only part that seems to directly translate over from the Guitar Hero games are the three note lanes that come down the highway. When gems come down those lanes, you need to hit the matching buttons on the turntable. When lengthier stretches come down the pike, you can start scratching the turntable back and forth. And when the lanes move out to one side or the other, that's your cue to slap the crossfader in one direction or the other.

There are also opportunities to turn a multi-effect knob that seems to function sort of like the whammy bar on a Guitar Hero guitar and a button that will turn on euphoria mode, which is the game's equivalent to star power. All told, it looks more dynamic and more authentic than, say, the piano keys and unexpressive turntable used by the Beatmania series. Also, the controller is surprisingly light and feels pretty nice. The rubber mat used on the turntable make gripping it for scratching or rewinding easy. You can detach the mixer section from the turntable and connect it to the other side, allowing for a left-handed configuration. This also allows for two turntables to be hooked up simultaneously, but that's not going to actually do anything in-game. Hey, they have to save something for the inevitable sequel, right?

Musically, DJ Hero is described as a mash-up game that combines two tracks into one. When word of that first got out, I was sort of depressed about it, because most of the mash-ups that get out there simply slap the vocal track from one song onto the instrumental from the other. Maybe the guy putting them together takes the time to chop up the vocals a bit or transpose one track into the key of the other, but most of the mash-up work out there feels like amateur hour. So it's good that Activision and FreeStyleGames are going further than that. These mixes--some of which have been created by skilled individuals such as DJ Shadow and DJ Z-Trip--have some genuine turntablism to them, with chopped-up vocals, elements of both instrumental tracks, and some extra samples to fill it out even further.

You'll still build streaks in DJ Hero.
So crossing songs like Gwen Stefani's Hollaback Girl with Rick James' Give It To Me ends up sounding a lot better than you'd initially think. And Activision's licensing department has obviously shifted into overdrive to make DJ Hero happen, since they'll have to license twice as many tracks than they have songs in the game. So don't assume that the announced numbers of somewhere over 100 songs being licensed for the game will mean that this will have the longest set list of any modern rhythm game. Chop that number in half and you'll have a better idea about where the final number of playable tracks may end up. Speaking of numbers, it's also been announced that ten of the game's tracks will feature support for the Guitar Hero guitar, setting up a "DJ vs. Guitar" mode where one player cuts it up on the ones and ones while a second player plays guitar, complete with a very GH-like highway on-screen. The game will also have microphone support, but not for any actual gameplay. If you plug in a mic, it will let you speak through it during gameplay. So if you want to be one of those awful club DJs that's always shouting their own name while they mix, go right ahead. Jerk.

Previous attempts to turn record spinning into gameplay have left me almost totally disappointed. That's not to say that the Beatmania games are bad, but the turntable in that game may as well have been a button. Despite some weird-sounding stuff, like putting buttons on the record itself, DJ Hero ends up looking and feeling a bit more like the real thing than the games that have come before it. And after seeing it in action and talking to a couple of the people behind the game, I've come away from the demo feeling pretty excited about the game's 2009 release. The one big question still remaining is the price. While retailers have been listing the game as a 10/27 release for $120, Activision isn't confirming that date or that price, and would only say that the price would likely be closer to the neighborhood of the guitar-and-game Guitar Hero bundles, which are more like $99.99.

  

Staff
Posted by ZmillA

After watching videos of people playing it, I'm fairly certain that im going to buy this. And I haven't bought ANY guitar hero/rockband games.

Posted by Trnck

I liked beatmania, it's so much fun.

Posted by LCad

Still quite excited for this.

Posted by darkspirit138

hmm..

Posted by ShaunWoo

Once I see the track list, I will know if I get this or not.

Posted by ANDYx0WNEDxU

Here is a video of it being played with dj skee talking through it:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8NChO-LJHf4

Edited by RotBot
Scratch: The Ultimate DJ revealed its controller too.  It looks a bit more like the Beatmania controller than DJ Hero.  The screenshots also give off a heavy Beatmania vibe.  Any news on that lawsuit?  It doesn't seem to be affecting DJ Hero much at E3, contrary to the prediction in the Bombcast.
Posted by Gearhead

I only bought GH3 just to see what Guitar Hero was about, and I thought it was ok. I play guitar, so I see real need for me to play it. Though with this, I don't know how the fuck to operate a turn table so it could be quite fun. 

Edited by Venatio

This looks alot better then I expected, I wanna see the full setlist before deciding on buying it though

Posted by Brendan

This video made me want this game.  Done.

Posted by Sick_Sick_Sick

if justice and daft punk are in then this will probably my game of the year

Posted by Jon93

That song was awesome, I want it on my ipod hardcore.

Posted by Cazamalos

til dj hero goes out, im still be playing DJ Max and going out to play beatmania, but dj hero looks more fun than beatmania i must confess

Posted by Absurd

That looked good, and those guys were awesome.

Edited by kallistosprom

so um any dance music in it? those other brits out there will know what i'm on about. Those are the ones in the UK which usually get mashed up.

Posted by addictedtopinescent

I'm really glad this looks like it won't suck

Posted by KingShorty

I'll be purchasing this fo sho!

Posted by damnboyadvance

This is exactly what I thought. I told all of my friends, you can't just watch the gameplay. You have to watch the peripheral being used. It's sweet! I'm getting this, no doubt.

Posted by Manks

Much better than I thought it would be.  I may purchase this.

Posted by Gruff182

Rick James, Bitch!!

Posted by KnifeySpoony

I like that they have DJ Shadow, but most likely I will never see this game.

Posted by fox01313

Are dj's heroes, nope. Questionable on if they can call themselves musicians either. Some songs I've heard remixed by djs turn out rather well but I can never understand why some dj will put out an album instead of just letting the artist who had their work sampled by the dj, put it on one of their cds.

Also agreeing with the podcast where the dj will just steal your girl, never play the music you want, etc. The game might be fun to people who like it but I don't see this one game taking off like Guitar Hero or Rock Band. Lego Rock band also falls in the same catagory as DJ hero, if that game (LRB) was more like a band's journey through the world collecting instruments/studs/band ppl and then have the occasional concerts in a simplified lego version of Rock Band. To me both these make not a whole lot of sense on the demand for them being that high. 

Posted by gunslingerNZ

Kinda lame, music will suck and this isn't a party game in the way guitar hero and rockband are.

Posted by clubsandwich

I still don't get it :( I mean it looks amazing but I just don't understand how you use it :/ :(

Posted by Kraznor

Still don't entirely get it, but I am intrigued. Hopefully this Brutal Legend lawsuit business will be sorted out by then so I can once again purchase Activision products.

Posted by Aaron_G

Thumbs up!

Posted by Paradigmer

Can't wait to hear the full song list, and can't wait to buy it either!

Posted by Hamst3r

I...am...playing...to the rhy-thm! Look at me succeeding!

Posted by toadstule

This game looks like so much fun to play. Too bad peripherals add so much to a game's cost...

Posted by theMcNasty

More like DJ Zero, amirite?

No?  You didn't seewutididthur?

Posted by CrazedJoker

This is horrible.

Posted by gesi1223

Really excited for this game, looks like it'll be a lot of fun, and since I'm a fan of the music styles this game caters to I doubt i'll be disappointed.

Posted by skrutop

The demo was really impressive, but I'm not really into mash-ups.

Posted by RHCPfan24

This looks cool, but I am still not buying another peripheral for another music game. I just....can't.

Posted by Patchinko

I really loved Beatmania back in the day (is that back in the day), but this looks pretty different. Still excited about it, though.

Posted by Media_Master

That looks like fun

Posted by gesi1223
@ShaunWoo said:
" Once I see the track list, I will know if I get this or not. "
http://www.djhero.com/music

Here are 4 of the songs that will be playable. All they've shown so far.