Friday, January 22, 2010

Hiphop Video Games: DJ Hero

If it looks like a duck, walks like a duck, and sounds like a duck, then it's a duck - right?

Well, since this looks like a turntable, feels like a turntable, and sounds like a turntable, then it's a turntable - right?

Well, not exactly.

This is Activision's latest venture after their success with Guitar Hero called DJ Hero. It's basically where players are given the ability to spin, cut, scratch and blend classic hiphop, rock, and funk songs. With classic songs by Jay-Z, Eminem, and Daft Pun and featuring guest players that resemble Grandmaster Flash, DJ AM,and Z-Trip, the game was a sure-fire hit among all music lovers!

DJ Hero had to have the best gameplay simulation any hiphop video game has ever had. I mean, turntables aren't hard to replicate, but the developers of this game did a very good job putting the controller together. And not only does it look nice, it also plays just like a turntable. Like, literally, it plays like a turntable!

Whenever a colored note slides into its corresponding matching circle, you hit the matching button. Whenever the squiggly lines slide into its corresponding circle, that means you have to hit the button AND scratch. There are also parts where you have to push buttons that play sound effects to enhance the mix and, just like Guitar Hero has, there are also moments where you play so good, you reach "euphoria". Imitating a DJ mixing "Atomic" by Blondie with "Feel Good, Inc" by Gorillaz on DJ Hero is nowhere near as easy as imitating the guitar play on "Miss Murder" by A.F.I. on Guitar Hero.

Another great thing about this game is the music selection. Now, I have heard every song that could possibly be mixed on DJ Hero, and I am very impressed. It is very club-heavy and lacks the amount of breakbeats and funk records I expected, but I'm still glad it gives classic records like "Bustin' Loose" by Chuck Brown and the Soul Searchers and "Rockit" by Herbie Hancock (which was a huge jazz-hiphop collabo in the early 80s) the credit they deserve.

Now, I understand the game needed to have a club vibe so that the gamers would feel better about their mixes. In this game the background, plot and scenery matched the mixes the gamers replicated. Just as in Guitar Hero, in DJ Hero you battle different characters in the game with your turntable as a weapon. The more you win, the more music, characters, places, etc. you unlock. So why wouldn't the game also have battles that took place where DJ battles originated - in the park.

Of course, the battle of the DJs blew up internationally once they hit the clubs, but they started in the parks where DJs would show off their skills with the turntables. It was also a battle of who had the most records as well. And although DJ Hero does show that significance with the unlocking of a records with each victory, the gamers do lose out on the street scenes as a DJ.

But I still feel that DJ Hero is one of the greatest hiphop games ever made.

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