DJ Hero Review
It was only a matter of time before the success of the Guitar Hero series led to spin-offs in other musical genres. Expanding into pop was easy, but hip-hop was more of a challenge. After all, when you hear the names of top hip-hop artists, a vision of those artists jamming with a guitar is not the first thing that pops into your head. So Activision instead turned their attention to the men and women behind the music, the DJs, and their instrument of choice, the turntable, and DJ Hero was born. DJ Hero comes with a turntable controller that features a spinning turntable with three colored buttons on it that will look familiar to anyone who's played Guitar Hero. Attached to the turntable itself is a small panel of controls that include a cross-fade switch, an effects knob, and a "euphoria button" (think star power), as well as a little pop-up hatch that hides the familiar PS3 controller buttons. The turntable controller is surprisingly light and can easily rest on your lap during play, but is sturdy enough to sit on a table or DJ stand and not scoot all over the place during use. Creating a guitar controller was probably child's play compared to developing this turntable controller, and Activision deserves credit for pulling it off. However, the real question here is whether or not the game that goes with this controller is any good…
On a basic level, DJ Hero will be familiar to anyone who's played a Guitar Hero or Rock Band game before. Colored icons travel down an onscreen track towards a line that lies horizontally across the bottom of the track. When one of those icons hits the line, you need to push the correspondingly colored button on the turntable. Time your button press correctly and you'll kick off a sequence on that track; miss it and that sequence will drop out of the song until the next icon on that track appears. Some of the icons will appear as long bars with arrows inside of them - for these you'll need to hold the button down for the length of the track while scratching the turntable (moving it back and forth). Some of these bars will let you scratch as you please, but others have arrows pointing forwards or back and you'll need to move the turntable in the direction of the arrow. Sometimes you'll see the left or right track make a shift to the left or right which is an indication to move the fader switch in the corresponding direction. Sometimes you'll slide it over and leave it there for a bit and others you'll need to 'spike' it by quickly moving it to one side or the other and then back to the middle again. Some stretches of a song are marked with glowing ice blue notes - play these stretches perfectly and you'll be awarded euphoria. Hitting the euphoria button will double your current score multiplayer and automatically control the fades for you while the euphoria remains active.
Lastly, there are two ways to control the music, but they're purely aesthetic. Some stretches of the songs will be marked with what looks like a sideways curly brace which indicates that you can use the effects knob to distort the sound. At other times you'll see a special bar on the center track that indicates that you can press the center button on the turntable to add a voiceover sound bite. Before each session you can select the voice group you want for the samples, and during play the effects knob can be used to select short phrases like "yeah boyyyyy" or "pump it up".
The goal in DJ Hero is to hit as many of the notes and fades as possible and keep the music playing. Your performance on each song will be rated from zero to five stars and while you can't fail out of a song like you can in Guitar Hero, you'll need to earn those stars to unlock more tracks and venues. The stars you're awarded are tied to your score on a song, so it's important to hit streaks of consecutive notes that will build up your score multiplier. On some parts of the tracks, hitting consecutive notes will make it possible for you to spin the turntable which effectively rewinds a section of the song giving you the chance to score even more points with the additional notes you'll get from the replay.