megalowho's DJ Max Fever (PlayStation Portable) review

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A content filled, rhythmic gem from overseas

When people talk about DJ Max they usually refer to Beatmania, Konami's classic rhythm game that the series is based on. The gameplay may be similar but the presentation, original music and overall wealth of content that you find in DJ Max Fever makes it one of the best PSP games you can own.

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Don't expect a Guitar Hero clone or any sing-a-longs, the Korean DJ Max series has always unabashedly been full of homegrown style and music. Even though this is the first title created specifically for western audiences, not much has changed in the localization. There's plenty of modes available at the start (4B, 5B, 6B, Freestyle, Challenge, Network Battle, Collection, MV Edition, OST) and tons of unlockables along the way. Even some light RPG elements pop up as you gain experience and levels, earn gold and purchase new equipment that change the visuals and provide stat bonuses.  
 The actual playing field has notes dropping down at a speed you can increase or decrease on the fly. Notes will come from any combination of the beat, instrumental or vocal parts, which leads to frustrating what-the-fuck-is-going-on moments but will also yield to satisfying runs through the songs you enjoy while hitting all the best parts. Everything feels noticeably less punishing than earlier DJ Max games but the hardest tracks still takes a good amount of patience and practice to complete.  It's an addicting gameplay mechanic, and one that rewards the effort you put into it.
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The music itself is enjoyable, sometimes great and at the very least varied and interesting. Each song come equipped with a trippy animated video, a cute loading screen and catchy genres like 'Aggressive Funk' and '2Step Slow.' Nearly all the songs in the game have been featured in either DJ Max Portable 1 or 2 - in fact most of Fever reuses old art, menus and music from those games. I can't help but be disappointed in some of the song choices that were made here but there's still plenty for newcomers to discover, and unquestionably a lot of music that evokes the credit roll of a nondescript Anime.  
From screen to screen the game has a clean and bright look but the excess of style can be loud and obnoxious at times, as well as a bit of a chore to navigate. Unfortunately you'll sit through numerous loading screens to get to where you wherever to go. And let's face it, if you don't really like dance music or games with a distinctly Eastern flavor than this may not be a purchase for you. But for everyone else, and especially PSP owners looking for a great use of the handheld's strengths, DJ Max Fever will deliver many hours of entertainment.

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