Review: DJ Hero, Put the Needle on the Record

DJ Hero

No more pennies to weigh down the needle from skipping, Activision’s DJ Hero is the real deal without scratching your vinyls.  Growing up in the late 80’s to early 90’s everyone either wanted to be a DJ, were friends with a DJ or tried scratching on their grandparents old turntables.  Heck, my older brother, DJ Gonz, mixed it up in the 90’s snatching up every milk crate he knew of within a 10 mile radius.  Fifteen years later, how will this DJ simulation game compare to the real thing?

dj-hero-bundleHardware worth gaming on. Before even inserting the DJ Hero disc, I examined the turntable controller bundled in with the standard version of DJ Hero.  Amazingly, the turntable controller felt sturdy and the feedback for the wireless connection was spot on.  Included are two AA batteries for the turntable, a wireless USB adapter and game disc including 93 original exclusive mixes.

Last night a DJ saved my game. Everyone knows a DJ can make or break a great party, well it’s no different in DJ Hero. The 93 original exclusive mixes come from none other then the best, Grand Master Flash, DJ AM, DJ Jazzy Jeff and DJ Shadow are just to name a few. While some of the playable  DJ’s in the game are fictional Activision provides a biography and gives them comical and entertaining personalities. Customizing your turntable, headphones and outfits are all unlockable as you attain more stars upon set-list completion. You can also play as the famous real life DJ’s as well.

If you mix it they will come. It doesn’t get any better in DJ Hero then when you’re asked to mix artists across several decades. My favorite mix has to be Vanilla Ice’s “Ice Ice Baby”, versus MC Hammer’s “U Can’t Touch This”. Although Black Eye Peas’s “Boom Boom Pow”, versus Benny Benassi’s “Satisfaction” was pretty hot.  I challenge you to not bob your head while playing — go ahead, I triple challenge you!

dj_hero_faderLearn to Scratch-n-Mix. By far the most interactive tutorial in the “Hero” series, DJ Hero’s Grandmaster Flash takes you into his recording studio teaching you how to crossfade, scratch and master the effects dial. Using the perfect tutorial song, you’ll practice with Queen’s “Another One Bites The Dust” and Daft Punks “Da Funk”.  DJ Flash’s condescending tone makes you think it’s easier than it is.  Pay him no attention, he’s only a founding father of record mixing.

Attention to detail. Playable track looks like classic vinyl record. When a mistake is made you’ll hear a sound like a needle on a blank record.  Similar to Guitar Hero — playing the track on the neck of the guitar — DJ Hero features a spinning vinyl as your track surface.  Strategically placed advertising has become a stitch in the industry and DJ Hero shows them here as well.  The included “resume countdown” is a nice feature.  If you pause during any set-list song it gives you a “3, 2, 1” count down before the track resumes.  Clever set list names shows you thought went into them, i.e. Scratching the Surface.  During loading time in between saves and set-lists you will notice the old record insert our parents and grandparents would use to convert their old 33’s to 45’s. The Euphoria button, or as the Guitar Hero people would know as star power feature, blinks red on the turntable controller when ready to be used to double your points in an attempt to get that fifth star!

DJ Hero-DJvs.GuitarMerging of two worlds, don’t put your guitar away just yet. You know a “Hero” game would not be the same without the inclusion of the Guitar. While all tracks are not guitar compatible some are which means double the fun. The Activision folks didn’t want Guitar Hero to lose its rock roots so the song selection that’s let’s you rock out with your DJ comrade are strategically selected. Some artists that you can rock out with are:  Foo Fighters, Motorhead, Foreigner and Zakk Wylde.

Party game for home use or clubs. DJ Hero is already getting the popular reception it deserves.  During set lists there’s no break in between songs, just like being at a club the DJ goes right into the next song.  The entire package will cost you $120 for the basic and $200 for the “Renegade Edition” featuring Eminem and Jay-Z.

Spin it back. By far the best feature is the “Rewind”.  When you play enough beats in a row you’ll be able to spin the turntable backwards allowing you to replay the track and getting double points for it.  This is just one more aspect of DJ Hero that brings out the realism in the game.  When I “Rewind”, I tend to spin the wheel similar to a clown with plates.  Let it rip baby!

DJ Hero

Turntable feels solid
Song combination’s
Number of playable tracks
Rewind/Scratching feature

Long load/save times
PS button access panel
No online lobby

Final Thought: DJ Hero could very well be the next musical instrumented game with the most potential. Thanks to the classic Guitar Hero franchise look, DJ Hero steps in with a solid foundation of gameplay, originality and a fresh re-birth for music games. I was never a fan of the cumbersome hardware for complete band games, but this compact yet sturdy turntable fits the bill. Songs made for parties, I’m confident in saying it’s the most well rounded playlist created in the genre. Believe me, you’ll want to pick up DJ Hero up and work out your carpal tunnel (the good kind). After all, its DJ Gonz approved. Wicka-Wicka, REWIND!


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One response to “Review: DJ Hero, Put the Needle on the Record”

  1. Refugee says:

    Very good and thorough review! As a person who took up Dj'ing as a hobby, I found this package to be quite accurate. I'm glad they kept the classic Technics 1200 SL 2 turntable look as the peripheral. The fader slide which could be found on mixers was a nice touch as well! I loved how the game featured old school hip hop ( Cypress Hill) as well as newer dance songs and even Queen during the tutorial mode! This game seemed cheesy from the onset, but after playing it, its a solid, solid game!

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