It is my firm belief that everyone remembers their first rhythm game. Mine was Guitar Hero 3, and every day Iíd try to play it, but because of my brothers ridiculing the face I made while playing (concentration is key) my Guitar Hero career came to an end. But this isnít about Guitar Hero, Rock Band, or any traditional games, because today, I am remembering quite possibly the greatest and most under-appreciated rhythm game of all time.
Oh this beauty. DJ Hero was a game developed by Freestyle Games and published by Activision in 2009, and it always piqued my interest. I saw fantastic reviews, but the price tag was too expensive for my young 15 year old self. But every time I saw it, I wanted to try it out. Around 2010, my father came home from Ottawa for March Break and let us do as we please. I went to the nearest rental place and looked at the Wii Games. There, I found DJ Hero with a 7 day rental for 12 dollars, and hopped on the chance. Setting it up was a breeze (every Wii peripheral had a nice place to put the remote) and after turning on the console I was greeted with an experience I would never forget.
DJ Grandmaster Flash let me through the tutorial, and while it was difficult, it was never that hard to grasp. Keep your fingers on the buttons, press accordingly, scratch the turntable when applicable, change roads with the crossfader, pressing the YEAHYEAHYEAHBOOIIIII button (yeah it was a button) and just having fun. That whole week was spent talking to my father and playing DJ Hero, enough to get me to the medium setting without much effort. The songs would get stuck in my head, and at night Iíd groove to the soundtrack while sleeping. When the time came for it to be returned I didnít play it for years, but still yearned for it almost like a dog and his treats.
Well, just last month I purchased DJ Hero second hand for 20 dollars at a pawn shop, and loved every single second of it (this time for PS3). Iíve tried every song on Medium and some on Hard and one on Expert, and I gotta say this game still holds up. Graphics are solid, gameplay is still fantastic, and the sequel is great as well, but to me not as good as the first.
However, the one thing that made DJ Hero stand out from the rest was itís soundtrack. 93 mixes, each utilizing the controller to the max, with plenty of Daft Punk and original mixes that would make your head spin. There is no song that isnít good, and even the one song I was skeptical of (Disco Inferno by 50 Cent VS Letís Dance by David Bowie) turned out to be one of my favorites. I bought the soundtrack and still have it on my iTunes to this day. But where DJ Hero has great songs, DJ Hero 2 seemed to not be as good in that regard. Kanye West vs Metallica? No thank you. It seemed to go for a more pop appeal, whereas the original had more timeless songs like Marvin Gaye and Gorillaz.
DJ Hero is my favorite rhythm game not because of itís innovation, but because it is a game that everyone can pick up and have a smile when they leave. Critics loved the franchise, and while Activision blames it for the fall of the Hero games, it still holds a place in my heart for being the one rhythm game that can still bring me a sense of joy and wonder, other than Elite Beat Agents.