DJ Hero Review

DJ Hero
Publisher: Activision Blizzard
Developer: FreeStyleGames
Release Date: October 27, 2009
Platforms: PS3, 360, WII, PS2

When you think about the Hero franchise, you immediately think of the ever-growing selection of Guitar Hero games that continue to come out year after year. Yet, someone gave it enough thought to think outside of the box in the music and rhythm genre and gave FreeStyleGames the opportunity to create a new kind of Hero game: DJ Hero. Out of all of the different styles of music genres out there, the DJ mix styles have not become very popular or mainstream in the U.S., while in other countries, such as Europe, the techno, trance and progressive genres have been wildly popular. None the less, the introduction of something new and unique into the repetitive music genre of video games has been welcoming to many. And DJ Hero doesn’t disappoint; this game actually has a lot to offer for people who even might not like the music genre.

There are two things that people see when they first think of DJ Hero: the new DJ turntable peripheral, and the price tag. The good news is that, unlike the other band games out there, you don’t need to spend $200+ to get four plastic instruments so that you can take full advantage of the game. The price tag is still hefty at $120, but the controller is very good quality. The controller is made up of two pieces, the first being the turntable and the second being the crossfader, mixer, controls, etc. The turntable will turn 360 degrees, and keep turning just like a real record would, so you don’t have to worry about hitting and breaking some sort of brake on it. There are three buttons on the turntable, just like on the guitars, except these buttons are depressed, meaning your fingers will be able to fit down into them, making it more comfortable to handle. While the Guitar games have Star Power, DJ Hero has Euphoria, which works in the same way. The button for Euphoria on the controller, surprisingly, lights up when you have the ability to use it. The one main issue with the peripheral is the crossfader. When you need to move it from one side to the other, it’s very easy to overshoot the middle, which ruins your streak. None the less, overall, the controller is of great quality.

The DJ Hero peripheral is very cool and new.

But what about the game? The game follows the quality of the controller and it easy to use, as well as fun. As the notes come down the stream on your screen, you must press the corresponding button on the controller, just like any of the guitar or band games. Sometimes, though, it will show arrows on it. When it does that, you must hold the button and spin the turntable back and forth, just as a DJ would when they are scratching it in real life. In the easy difficulties, it will allow you to scratch the turntable in any direction you want, but as you get up to hard, it will tell you exactly what direction you need to scratch it. The game is very friendly to all audiences; for those who are playing it casually for fun, the easier difficulties make it enjoyable for you, but if you want to really master the game, the harder difficulties will provide you with a considerably ample challenge.

Normally when you’re playing, you’ll never have a chance to see what’s going on behind the stream, because the second you do, you realize you’re not pressing anything. Luckily, they’ve added a Party Play mode, which allows you to sit back and enjoy the music as it plays for you. While you won’t get scored on the game, it’s still nice if you just want to be able to listen to the songs on their own, or check out what goes on in the background. Obviously, these types of games aren’t meant to have good graphics, but if you know anything about this genre of music, you will know somewhat about how the parties and concerts look. FreeStyleGames succeeds in capturing the atmosphere that you would find in these types of concerts, with massive audiences, huge television screens, laser lights, unique video filters and much, much more.

An example of what you'd see when playing DJ Hero.

Really, though, the whole point of DJ Hero is the music. With any music and rhythm game, if the music isn’t good, people aren’t going to want to play it. The main challenge that they have with this game is the fact that the audience for this type of music isn’t as broad as something like the guitar or band genres. None the less, the variety of mixes that they have in DJ Hero makes it very impressive. First, you must note that almost all of the songs on DJ Hero are a mix of two different songs. The genres of the songs that they mix together range anywhere from pop, to hip-hop, even to a little bit of the trance genre itself. And of course, you can find many of the major players in that industry, such as DJ AM, DJ Shadow, and most popular, Daft Punk, with many featured mixes in the game. And the set list is impressive as well, coming in at 93 mixes! In short, the music selection is great for a large variety of players, and is well mixed as well.

Of course, there is also an online component to DJ Hero, which works quite easily, and works well. All you do is select the set list of songs that you want to play, select the character and venue you play at, and just play. The downfall is that, with any of these games, it makes your stream very small on the screen, as it shows both players’ streams, but, that is nothing unusual. And, the best news of all is that if you play any of the songs online that you haven’t played in single player yet, it still counts the stars that you earn on each of the songs and adds it to your collection. So, in theory, a player can play the entire game online with other people, and still unlock everything in the game. Just remember though, it doesn’t matter what your opponent gets, it only counts your own.

Two DJs facing off in multiplayer play.

DJ Hero opened up a new avenue into the music game genre. It’s been years since we’ve seen something new come out that hasn’t been a Guitar Hero or Rock Band game, but FreeStyleGames made one, and made it good. It’s been said that DJ Hero could possibly be the best music game since Dance Dance Revolution, and innovation-wise, that definitely checks out. If you have some extra time and money, and want something new, DJ Hero won’t disappoint you, or your wallet.


  1. Tim

    Nothing will beat DDR, Dance Dance Revolution is still amazing. :-) It requires more physical endurance than DJ Hero.

  2. You've got that right Tim. I absolutely love Dance Dance Revolution. But the onslaught of Guitar Hero and Rock Band games have bored me, and this is the most unique thing to hit the rhythm genre since. :)

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