Monday, May 30, 2011

DJ Hero 2, or How I Learned To Stop Worrying And Love Rhythm Games

I still prefer calling it DJ Herp.

Asides from my early teenage forays into Konami’s Guitar Freaks series, and a mild preoccupation with Beatmania, DDR, and Stepmania, I was never much into rhythm games once they made their way across the earth and became a bit of a thing in the western gaming world. Does that make me a games hipster? Perhaps, although my main problem with them was always firmly rooted in the difficulty levels I encountered, or rather didn’t, as it were.

It was a considerable amount of time before I first tried Guitar Hero, and I was sorely disappointed. The game was painfully easy, and furthermore terribly, terribly boring. I flew through the songs that I tried, and felt no joy or satisfaction in their passing. I resigned myself to a life of living outside the rhythm games movement, and was happy to continue on with the multitude of other extremely enjoyable gametypes that were available to me. When my housemates picked up Rock Band, it looked as if the tides has taken a shift: suddenly there were instruments available that I couldn’t play, and tangible instruments, too. There are only so many ways you can pretend to play a drum kit, after all, and the prospect of bashing a microphone like a tambourine did not detract texcessively from the enjoyment of trying to wail out prog-rock vocal lines from the likes of Claudio Sanchez. Though I only had a few attempts at it, I conceded that Rock Band was certainly the most fun iteration of its ilk.

Then, a few weeks back, I had the occasion to overstep the boundaries of the rock and roll world, to enter into the strange ‘but they’re not real musicians!‘ world of DJ-ing through the medium of DJ Hero 2. It is probably most closely aligned to Beatmania, only it seems to me to be orders of magnitude more complicated than Beatmania ever was. The main attraction here, for me at least, is not so much the ‘playing’ of songs, as it is the cross-fading between different tracks, and particularly the freeplay moments where you are, at least at a rudimentary level, filling the role of an actual DJ.

I am not a DJ, not even close. I am terrible at this game when I try to do anything in it, and this makes me want to play it more and more. I have to learn how to be a DJ. I have no context for the behaviours of cross-fading, though I certainly know a thing or two about flange. The difficulty has drawn me in, and I can’t wait to beat it.

My time with it was short, but certainly worthy of note as I’m looking forward to trying it again. At the very least, it feels a little more game-y than its guitar-ridden sisters. When playing a game where I pretend to play an instrument that I actually own and enjoy, I tended to spend the majority of the undertaking wondering why I wasn’t just actually playing guitar. However, I do not possess a set of sweet decks, and so DJ Hero 2 shall suffice for now. I am ready to enjoy rhythm games once more.

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