Ever since scratching my Thriller album to death on my old red Snoopy record player, I’ve been dreaming about learning how to be a DJ, so imagine my giddiness when I saw DJ Hero for the first time at my local Best Buy. I didn’t buy it right away, but the reviews sold me on it soon after that first encounter. Between my obsession with recently-deceased DJ AM, and a soundtrack that I actually liked, Santa brought the game into our home and our other Wii games have been neglected ever since.
When I purchased DJ Hero, I knew it only came with one turntable, but seeing only one is kind of a letdown, especially after growing up in a “two turntables and a microphone” era. Still, the turntable has the feel of a record, and spins like a genuine turntable as well (although not automatically), and in game-play, all is forgiven. There are plenty of controls to keep you busy, especially in the harder levels.
The game-play is similar to Guitar Hero (it is a spin-off after all) with three buttons to hit as the notes come towards you on the screen. Besides from hitting the buttons on time, you can also scratch and rewind the record. There’s also a cross-fader which gives the game the feeling of having two turntables. A euphoria button is similar to the star power action in guitar hero, giving you double points.
One major difference between Guitar Hero and DJ Hero, is that you can’t upset the crowd, or at least I’ve never managed to upset a crowd or get booed out of the DJ booth. At worst, the crowd dies down a little if you’re in over your head. Since the game takes place in a club setting, maybe everyone is just drunk? I jest, but when you mess up in a bad way, the music stops for a second or two – total party foul, but the people in the club don’t seem to care.
The soundtrack is great mix of old-school tracks and newer pop, techno, hip hop, and some rock. Some of the featured artists are Jay-Z, Young MC, Gwen Stefani, Beastie Boys, N.E.R.D., and many more. Some of the DJs featured are Grandmaster Flash, Scratch Perverts, Daft Punk, and the late DJ AM, just to name a few.
Most of the mixes went over well, but there were a couple duds, like songs by David Bowie, and all of DJ Yoda’s set. Still, most of the mixes were hot and each song has to be played at least once in order to gain stars and unlock new decks, headphones, venues and DJs.
One of the best features of DJ Hero, is that it’s great for the entire family; even smaller children can get in on the game thanks to an easy-peasy beginner level. The beginner setting allows children or rhythmically-challenged adults to hit any button they like, scratches are indiscriminate, and the cross-fader is omitted.
The original DJ Hero for the Nintendo Wii is rated T for teen (most suggestive lyrics are conveniently edited out in scratches) and costs $119. The Renegade version costs around $180.
If you’re struggling with whether you should buy the original DJ Hero version or the Renegade version, I say save your money. With the renegade version comes a blinged-out turntable and a stand (the stand would admittedly be handy), and possibly some extra mixes from Jay-Z and Eminem, but if you go with the cheaper original version, you won’t be missing out on much. The original version comes with a set list by Jay-Z, Eminem’s “My Name Is” is used in two different mixes, and the turntable controller plays perfectly well on your lap or a table.