Monday, 2 November 2009

Too many DJ's: DJ Hero hands-on impressions

I finally managed to beat off the chavs to get close to the demo unit for DJ Hero that appeared last week in my local Game. I've been itching to have a look at the turntable close up, despite not actually being terribly excited for it based on what I'd seen, not to mention band games and the like are usually, with their peripheral proclivity, prohibitively pricey. But based on a mere ten minutes of scratch n' sniff, I might just have to make an exception.

The deck itself is pleasingly sturdy, the disc on the right (or left, southpaws), freely spinning unfettered as it should, and the "mixing desk" to the left (see above, reverse it) all present and correct with its cross fader, effect knobs and standard controller buttons tidily concealed under a flap. I thought I best start with the tutorial being offered, as the videos I'd seen hadn't permeated my imagination enough to actually gather what was happening in them. But it turns out it's dead simple, so I skipped it. Also Grandmaster Flash was embarrassingly drawing attention to my newbness really loudly in a crowded store.

DJ's of course, (and not mind, the ones you encounter at weddings who press play to Now that's what I call music 18), mix (or mash, to use the correct parlance) two, often entirely disparate tunes (choons), to make a new and usually improved mash up (song). The same happens here. Track one is the line on the left, track 2 is the line on the right. The one down the middle, as far as I could gather, is used to insert annoying sound effects and cause you to lose your streak. As with Guitar Hero, the iconic buttons zoom towards you on the mesmerically curving track, and you hit the corresponding real world button located conveniently on the deck under your fingers at the appropriate moment to keep that track in the mix. You may see the line jump from left to right and back again. This indicates where a cross fade is required, causing the favouring of one track over the other. Finally, there is what's called the scratchy scratchy move, where a button is depressed and you use the turntable to scratch a funky "eeriyt" into the groove. Simples.

Like Guitar Hero, this promises to be fiendishly addictive and hair tearingly difficult. That said, I blazed through the three demo tracks on normal without problem. There's obviously a lot more to it I don't appreciate yet - there was no specific direction required to get the scratch right, and I barely touched the effects knob. Coordinating all the button presses and crossfades required to keep up with the track, and then dropping in a tasty scratch, is just as rewarding as nailing a guitar solo, and indeed, a tiny crowd of gobby teenagers had quickly gathered to marvel at my mad skills (skillz). My only concern was the crossfaders tendency to leap unbidden out of its central groove, causing one of the tracks to fizz out like a fluff covered needle. No doubt with practice, a non existent problem, clearly one's hand should instinctively hover between the tracks like a Buddhist passing through life.

So I think I need to start saving for this one, because the deck remains fairly pricey for a game. And although it does lack the pick-up-ability of a dinky plastic guitar, based on this tiny slice of gameplay joy and with the knowledge that Activision have secured a genuinely impressive playlist, I have no doubt this will, once it gathers some momentum, be a huge hit. I certainly know what we'll be doing in the Treehouse this Christmas.

Hit the jump for some lovely official videos of a taste of the wonders that await you, and try, unlike I did, to use an iota of imagination of yourself causing these crunchy grooves..

Yes, yes! Sold.

This will never work, right?

Bowie wins. But you probably won't on expert..

More than the sum of its parts..

Check out the Dj Hero Youtube channel for more.

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