Last generation's PSP was a bastion of great music games with titles like Lumines and Project Diva—in addition to re-releases of classics like PaRappa the Rapper and Gitaroo Man. However, one music series has been often overlooked, despite having some of the best music games around: DJMax. Why has it been snubbed? Probably because of the fact that, of the series' seven PSP titles, only two have been released in the West. But now, with the release of DJMax Technika Tune, the Korean-made series has the opportunity to capture the musical souls of Vita owners starved for more quality titles.
DJMax games have always had great track lists, and Technika Tune is no exception. The music ranges from K-Pop and Rap to Classical and Techno. Not only is the music good, but each of the game's 54 songs has its own FMV music video playing in the background.
But the real selling point of the game's music is that there are several songs performed by KARA, one of South Korea's most popular K-Pop girl bands. They are so popular here in Japan, that despite having zero interest in K-Pop, I was already familiar with nearly every song of theirs included in the game—well, the Japanese language versions anyway.
Having played several of the past DJMax titles, I was reasonably sure I knew what to expect in Technika Tune: the same old gameplay I remembered with upgraded graphics and new songs. I couldn't have been more wrong on that first expectation. Instead of following the PSP game model which used the PSP's face buttons, it builds on the system from the latest DJMax arcades and uses the Vita's touch screens to great effect.
The game plays a lot like Elite Beat Agents and involves your touching the screen in the right place at the right moment. Unlike the Nintendo DS, however, the Vita's touch screen allows for more than one touch at a time, dramatically changing up the gameplay. But better still, the game also utilizes the rear touch screen, stepping up the challenge even more when the game's harder modes involve using both screens at the same time.
Luckily, if using both screens at once seems a bit intimidating (because it is), beginners will find the game more than a little understanding. On the easiest mode, the game uses only the front touch screen when playing. On the medium and hard difficulties, however, using the back screen becomes more and more common. However, if you just aren't able to get the hang of the back touch screen but still want to play the harder versions of each song, you can turn off the back screen in the options menu and still enjoy all that the game has to offer.
On the easiest mode, experienced music game players will have little trouble playing through any song. However, the moment the back touch screen comes into play, even the most
experienced players will be left with previously unthought-of questions like "How, exactly, do I hold this thing?" Even after figuring out a way to be able to hit anywhere on front screen with two different fingers at the same time and still be able to tap the back screen, I had to devote hours to my technique before I was even moderately proficient at it. And I feel that it would take many more before I'd be ready for the hardest mode.
DJMax Technika Tune is a fantastic music game and sits with Gravity Rush and LittleBigPlanet as one of the best titles on the Vita. It has a great sound track—especially if you love K-Pop—and it is one of the first games to use all of Vita's capabilities to great effect. If you have even a passing interest in music games, you should definitely keep an eye out for Technika Tune when it releases in the West later this month.
DJMax Technika Tune was released on September 20, 2012, in Korea and September 27, 2012, in Japan for the PlayStation Vita. It will be released in North America on October 26, 2012.