The DJ Hero franchise allows you to play along to new mixes and mash ups of popular songs in multiple genres, such as hip-hop, rock and more. Gameplay is similar to other rhythm games where button prompts scroll down for you to press at appropriate times. However, DJ Hero is set apart from other games in the genre with never-before seen techniques that are common in the genre by using a special DJ turntable peripheral.
DJ Hero Turntable
These new techniques are done using a new turntable peripheral made exclusively for the DJ Hero franchise. The controller
itself is split into two parts. On one side of the controller is a spinnable platter with three colored buttons. This part of the controller is where you perform "taps" and "scratches" in-game. Taps are performed by simply tapping the colored buttons when prompted to do so. Scratches are done by holding the specified colored button and moving the platter up and down, the direction of which is also specified in-game.
The other section of the turntable houses the cross-fader, Euphoria button, and an effects dial. The Euphoria button deploys Euphoria, similar to Guitar Hero
/ Rock Band
's Star Power/Overdrive, respectively. The effects dial is similar to a whammy bar on a guitar peripheral and allows you to alter the sound of the mix being played. The cross-fader is exclusive to the turntable and allows you to switch from both mixes being played at the same time to one or the other being played by itself when prompted in-game (except in DJ Hero 2, where there are special free-style sections that allow you to fade into one side or the other freely). This section also has a hidden compartment that holds the guide button for each console, a d-pad to move around in menus, and the console's face buttons used on its respective controller.
The two sections of the controller can be flipped around for both left-handed and right-handed players.
Gameplay in the DJ Hero franchise is similar to gameplay in Guitar Hero/Rock Band. Notes scroll down for players to hit once the notes reach the appropriate zone. At moments, players are expected to "scratch" by holding an appropriate button and moving the platter on the turntable the appropriate direction, as indicated in the game. Players are also expected to "cross-fade" at appropriate times by moving the cross-fader on the controller to the left or the right as dictated by the game.
While playing, certain sections glow white. If these sections are hit perfectly, the player gains Euphoria. When used, the amount of points given are doubled. If the player hits enough notes without breaking their combo, the player gains a "rewind" and allows the player to spin the platter on the controller backwards, which will rewind the note track and allow you to replay a section again to gain more points. At the end of each song, the player is given a star rating, ranging (from worst to best) one to five stars, which are used to unlock new setlists, playable DJs, costumes, and venues.
DJ Hero DJ Hero
, the first game in the franchise, was released on October 27, 2009. Players could use pre-made characters and DJ their way to the top. Players went through various setlists to play through and gain stars to unlock new setlists, playable characters, costumes, and venues to DJ in. Players could also use a guitar peripheral in ten of the games 93 mixes.
Canned samples were used in freestyle sections made specifically with the red button on the turntable.
The game also had real-life DJs that the player could play as after unlocking that DJs specific playlist and playing through it. Real-life DJs included DJ Shadow, Grandmaster Flash, Daft Punk, and others.
DJ Hero 2 DJ Hero 2
, released just under a year after the first DJ Hero, returned with a story mode, refined gameplay, new gameplay elements, the ability to sing to some of the songs 83 mixes, and a focus on party play.
Gameplay remained largely unchanged from the first DJ Hero, but allowed new "freestyle" sections that allowed players to cross-fade, sample and scratch in any way they wanted in their respective freestyle sections. Canned samples were also dropped in favor of samples that went better with the mixes in the game.
DJ Hero 2 also has a new story mode called "Empire Mode" which gave the game more of a story to your DJ rising to the top.
Gameplay was also more focused on multiplayer and party play than its predecessor. While the guitar mode from the first DJ Hero was dropped, the ability to sing was included with the game. To commemorate this new focus on multiplayer, a special party pack was released for DJ Hero 2 that came with two turntables and a microphone, as well as the game.
As with the first game, real-life DJs were playable in DJ Hero 2, such as the RZA, David Guetta, and Deadmau5.
Future of the Franchise
In February 2011, Activision stated all of their popular rhythm games would be put on hold for the year to focus on other properties and due to the rhythm genre's market no longer being as profitable as it was in years past. This leaves some uncertainty as to whether DJ Hero will continue as a franchise. At the time, a new title was being developed for Nintendo's 3DS
, called DJ Hero 3D