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'DJ Hero' is up to scratch

Dec 1, 2009

By John Powell - G4 Canada

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DJ HeroDJing. I have friends who do it. I enjoy watching them do it but I still don't understand the allure, myself. Maybe it is because I am an old school rocker/metalhead who believes the best musical era was the sixties. Maybe it is because I hate dancing, dance clubs and anything associated with moving my two feet in any kind of rhythm, unless I am stomping and stomping hard.

Maybe it is because I cannot stand electronically processed music which doesn't involve a real instrument of any kind. Maybe it is because I am a writer/editor and see DJing as just another form of editing or maybe, just maybe, I am a complete and utter musical snob, which is a distinct possibility.

At any rate, when the 'DJ Hero' box turntable appeared with its dials, switches and all sorts of gadgets; I was mildly intrigued and willing to give it a shot despite my preconceptions. I was pulled in right away when I realized it was Grandmaster Flash leading me through the tutorial. Even though I will be a rocker until the day I die, I do respect and appreciate what artists like Grandmaster have brought to the music industry. Plus, come on, he's freaking hilarious.

DJ HeroAs you might have already pondered, 'DJ Hero' is like 'Guitar Hero' but with a turntable that can do all sorts of groovy things, although there are not that many opportunities to be overly creative with it. About the size of your 360 but not nearly as wide, you can cross-fade, tap, scratch and even mix a little with the unique peripheral. There are a few key skills you have to learn to do well at the game but compared to a 'Guitar Hero' drum set or guitar, the learning curve is nowhere as steep or as complicated.

The three tap buttons operate like the coloured buttons in 'Guitar Hero'. You press or hold them down based on the cascading notes. Instead of 'Star Power', there is 'Euphoria' and a corresponding button that turns red when it is ready to be activated. With the turntable itself, you can scratch back and forth when required or spin it in reverse to rewind the song and replay that portion for more points. The cross fader (a slider) will have you jumping between two different tracks and the effects knob will let you put in any of the zany sounds included like Flavor Flav running off at the mouth.

DJ HeroThe table works brilliantly except for one nagging problem: the cross fader slider. The game requires that you skim the cross fader from the extreme right to extreme left or back in the middle. The problem is that the divot in the middle is not pronounced enough to signal you that you've gone past the centre. This a real glitch in the turntable because you are working by touch while you process the information that is streaming down the screen. It is so easy to miss your target and you will do so habitually. Those who pride themselves on perfect scores will be disillusioned.

Once you have the basic skills down pat there isn't much to build upon. 'DJ Hero' is bound to appeal to a wider audience because of this simplicity. The tracks and mixes just become more elaborate but as they do, cross fade spikes come into play and there's that darn cross fader slider once again. Sigh.

'DJ Hero' allows for co-op play with the 'Guitar Hero' guitar or another turntable. Those mixes are not the most elaborate nevertheless like all rhythm games, the more, the merrier. It is just a darn shame that nobody ever wants to sing. Am I right or am I right?

'DJ Hero' has all the makings of a smash hit. The only obstacle is the price. To bring home the entire set will cost you approximately $130. "One for the price of two" may work for some but not for others. It just depends whether you think the experience is worth the price of admission.


DJ Hero'DJ Hero'
Format: Xbox 360
Publisher: Activision
Developer: FreeStyleGames
ESRB Rating: T for Teen
Official Site:

Rating: 7 / 10




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