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DJ Hero GamesCom 2009 Preview

We're all familiar with Activision's Guitar Hero franchise, that shining little gem where we emulate being rock stars using Fisher Price plastic instruments in our living rooms, blasting out the iconic rock tracks of yesteryear. So where now for Activision? What path do they now tread in the name of musical entertainment?

dj hero 1

Well folks may I present to you DJ Hero, one of the latest offerings from the womb of the 'Hero' franchise shack. The game pits you as a budding DJ striving to achieve the accolade of your peers by delivering toally whack mixes into the ears of the hedonists that are your crowd.

Naturally, as this is a brand new franchise, a brand new controller and play style had to be developed that could provide an experience that is entertaining yet relatively close to the work of club DJ's. For the music side of the game, around twelve DJ's created over 100 mixes specifically for this title, including mixes from the likes of Grandmaster Flash (who is your guide and mentor throughout the game), DJ AM, DJ Shadow, DJ Z-Trip and DJ Zip Zap RapFish. Okay - so I made that last one up, but you get the idea.


The gameplay itself surprised me; while I don't mind the whole club scene, I'm not a fan of its musical offerings, yet once I got my sweaty paws on the controller and gave the game a go I was filled with a sense of 'you know, this is rather good, I could get into this'. This is a good sign for the game; if it can entertain the likes of me, who is hardly a fan of the genre, then it bodes well for generating a large fan base of the game.

The control method of the game on first impression seemed to be easier than that of Guitar Hero, only three buttons to utilise rather than five on the highway, yet in practice there is a lot to concentrate on. On the deck you get a turntable control with your three buttons, green for the left track, red for samples and blue for the right track. You also have a box to the left, which can be positioned on the right of the turntable for left handed users, which houses the cross fader, euphoria button and effects dial, this dial allows you to change what sample is played when you press the red button.

DJ Hero Turntable

As the markers come round the highway - I say roundsincethe track has been designed to look round like your favourite Simon & Garfunkel LP - single markers indicate a single press of the corresponding button, if the marker is of any length then it will display in which direction you have to 'scratch' your record. On top of this your green lane will jump left and blue lane will jump right, when you see this coming round on the highway you must flick your cross fader to that relevant direction then return it to centre when the line returns to its original position. So there is a lot to take on board and look out for.

DJ vs. DJ

As I mentioned above, you have a euphoria button on your controller, which is the equivalent to your star power from Guitar Hero. Once hit, you double your multiplier to rack up even more points - so it seems scoring is what you would expect from a 'Hero' game. However, the game does bring into play a unique feature which could prove crucial when pushing for the top spot in the online scoreboards, the ability to rewind the track by a certain margin.

Now you cannot constantly rewind sections of tracks as you have to build up a meter via certain markers that have a coloured arch above them, which adds time to the meter if you successfully hit them. Once filled just simply spin the turntable 360 degrees to activate and the track rewinds. As I said, it could prove crucial in gaining points, nailing a particularly tricky section which offered a lot of points, then rewind and nail it again for more. Or on the flip side of this, if you just simply enjoyed a section of the track, rewind and do it again instead of having to wait to the end to retry the mix.

DJ Hero 2

The fun and games does not end here, got a friend that prefers Guitar Hero? Then get him over with his Fisher Price instrument and go co-op, you can spin the mix while he plays guitar tracks in the tried and tested method he's used to as there are a number of specifically created mixes just for this very purpose. This is one of the multiplayer elements of the game, alongside this you can battle it out DJ vs. DJ, or go co-op DJ + DJ and DJ + Guitar, and all modes offer a great deal of entertainment for the users.

Guitar + DJ

It is becoming a recurring theme here from my time at GamesCom, entering in an air of scepticism and leaving feeling refreshed, entertained and genuinely looking forward to the release of what I have seen. DJ Hero is no exception to this theme, with its unique twist on the musical colour matching game genre, I believe it will be the surprise hit of this years' Christmas sales. Look towards your favourite geek huts towards the end of October to pick this up.

Wedgeh | 13th September, 2009
Fat Tony's picture
DEFO gotta get this one!
Wedgeh's picture
Shortly after writing this piece, it came to light that Adam Goldstein, AKA DJ AM, one of the main contributors to the game sadly passed away 28th August, due to an apparent drug overdose. While the circumstances are cloudy at best, it is indeed a sad day for his family and friends.

Activision responded with the following press release.

Originally Posted by Activision PR
We are deeply saddened by the loss of DJ AM, who was a tremendous talent, a trusted partner and friend to DJ Hero. Our thoughts and prayers are with his friends and family. AM was instrumental in the making of DJ Hero and we hope that his work on the game will be a fitting tribute to his creative spirit and musical talent.
News of the death

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