Saturday, March 8, 2014

DJ Hero (PlayStation 2) Impressions

Before I talk about DJ Hero, let's talk about the game hunt for the week. It was payday week, so I went bargain shopping at three different Goodwill stores and a Big Lots. I went to Big Lots because all of their games were 75% off. I knew it was a discount store, but there was a thread over at Cheapassgamer and some people had found some really cool games. The one I went to only had about 10 copies of Michael Phelps: Push the Limit.

I'd have to smoke more weed than Phelps does to play this. Even for $1.25.

So, that was a let down. At the third and final Goodwill store, I found a fat PS2. I snagged it immediately because I really don't like the slim. The main problem with it is that it has two lid sensors. These let the console know when the lid is closed. They did this because people figured out that you can play burned games with the PS1 if you swap a disc out at the right time. I'd have no problem with the two lid sensors, except the back one never fully depresses. I keep taping it down, but it pops back up. So, I've been putting a book on it. Fuck that. Anyways, I tried to calibrate the laser in the fat PS2 but it was already too far gone. In other words, there will soon be a guide on here for replacing a fat PS2 laser.

Yesterday was an overall disappointing day, but today I noticed a store right near one of the Goodwills I frequent that I never noticed before. It was one of those hole in the wall places where half of the things in the store are from the owner's house. One of the finds was an Xbox HD AV pack, so now I can get surround sound from the original Xbox. Those packs are strangely uncommon. The other find was (no shit) DJ Hero for PS2.

This game hit the bargain bin pretty quickly, at no fault of its own. People accuse EA of bleeding franchises dry, but I'd say Activision is ten times worse. Yearly Call of Duty, multiple Guitar Hero titles a year (until they cancelled it), yearly Tony Hawk titles (same thing as Guitar Hero though). By the time DJ Hero came out, people had basically given up on music games. I remember actually wanting it when it came out because the mixes they played in the commercials were pretty awesome. On top of that, DJ Shadow was involved in the game and (almost) any DJ Shadow is good DJ Shadow.

This copy was brand new and only $20. The box was a little beat up, but it was new enough that the game was never opened and the batteries were still in the box, so I'm going to call it brand new. The appeal of this game over Guitar Hero becomes obvious almost immediately. The music is unique to the game, and using a half size turntable feels a lot more real than a half size plastic guitar. DJ Hero has some truly insane mash-ups as well, even one that throws David Bowie and 50 Cent together. There are some pretty odd combinations that turn out really well (Gwen Stefani's Holla Back Girl and Rick James' Give It to Me Baby) and some are obvious combinations that turn out excellent (Black Eyed Peas' Boom Boom Pow and Benny Benassi's Satisfaction).

Hold my drink, bitch.

Gameplay is pretty simple; there are three buttons on the record, and three "streams" on screen. Two of the streams represent the two songs, one of them is a sound effects track. You have a crossfader and an effects knob. There will be circles that come along the streams (like Guitar Hero) that indicate a button press or a scratch. The streams will also move to the left or right, indicating where to position the crossfader. My only real complaint with this game (so far) is the crossfader. The neutral position is in the middle, and it only very slightly snaps into place. If the game is giving you a pretty fast sequence of fades, it's impossible to get it into the right position. If the crossfader is anywhere other than fully left or fully right, the game treats it as neutral. So you don't have to center it, but it feels more natural if it is centered. If you're doing well enough in the song, you'll get a rewind where you spin the record backwards and it'll move back to an earlier section of the song. This had potential to be really cool, but when you spin it back there's an obvious pause and load time, instead of an immediate pick up in the song.

If I have any other disappointment it's that the game seems to have compressed the audio quite a bit. I've got the PS2 connected to my surround system through optical, so I'm getting the raw sound. There's not a lot of range to it though. There's very little obvious bass in the tracks, and it ends up sounding sort of lifeless. There are apparently around 90 tracks here, so something close to lossless audio wouldn't have been feasible, even on a DVD. Either way, it seems like a game like this would have paid a little bit more attention to sound quality.

I'm definitely not disappointed with the game. Considering that these can still be found at discount stores brand new, it's worth picking up if you come across a set. I'm not sure it's something that I could sit down and play for hours on end, but the curiosity at how certain songs turned out mixed together adds an excitement to the game that Guitar Hero's original tracks and shitty cover versions never had.

You don't have to be stoned to enjoy it, either.

1 comment:

  1. Lol what the hell do you do with that phelpls game, kinect bong?