My experience with DJ Hero has always come in short little bursts, never affording me enough time to really play the game. Until now.
Yesterday a demo build of DJ Hero landed on my doorstep. The build features a short playable tutorial hosted by DJ Grandmaster Flash, three DJ-only mixes and a DJ-guitar mix. The game also includes three of the four difficulty settings and two avatars.
This is the build, Activision tells us, that will be showing up at kiosks in stores starting in October.
One of the most important things about DJ Hero, as with all music games, is its song selection. In the build I received I was able to play through mixes of Marvin Gaye's "I Heard it Through the Grapevine" vs. Gorillaz' "Feel Good Inc.", Gwen Stefani's "Hollaback Girl" vs. Rick Jamess "Give it to Me" and Benny Benassi's "Satisfaction" vs. Black Eyed Peas' "Boom Boom Pow".
The DJ-Guitar mix was Beatie Boys "Sabotage" vs. Foo Fighters' "Monkey Wrench".
Gameplay, as DJ Grandmaster Flash points out, is broken down into three types of controls: Taps, cross-fading and scratching. Taps have you tapping one of three colored buttons in time with their appearance on the screen. Cross-fading has you moving a cross-fader switch between left, right and center to match the lines that flow between taps. Finally, scratching has you pressing a button and rubbing the turntable back and forth when a colored bar with the scratch symbol scrolls by.
At it's easiest setting, gamers won't have to worry about the cross-fader, which is certainly the most complex idea introduced to the rhythm game. Instead you will just have to tap in time and scratch when needed.
The medium and hard settings only vary by the mix of taps, scratches and cross-fades. I found medium to be fairly easy, while hard was a bit of a challenge. Expert, I suspect, will be the mode most people familiar with the concept of rhythm games will quickly turn.