Hey, Mr. DJ
DJ Hero may not resemble deejaying, but it’s still a hell of a lot of fun.
By Joshua P. Ferguson
Originally Published in Time Out Chicago Magazine | 10.29.09
With a fridge full of Miller High Lifes and all the fixings for pork and shrimp tacos, I host a panel of DJs—steady-gigging locals Dani Deahl, Intel, Popstatic and Matt Roan—at my Ukrainian Village apartment one recent night. Our objective: to take the DJ version of Activision’s immensely popular Guitar Hero for a spin. As we pile onto my couch, the shit talking begins immediately. “You’re going down, pretty boy,” Deahl tells Roan.
“Surely they could have made it more like actual deejaying,” Popstatic says, shortly into our inaugural run. Since we never have to mix one record into another, DJ Hero’s not a whole lot like club play—just as Guitar Hero won’t turn you into an overnight virtuoso. But that doesn’t stop us from having a blast.
Like its video-game sibling, DJ Hero’s controller has color-coded buttons; both games have the same style of play. But this controller is shaped like a mini turntable with a rotating record platter and a crossfader that has us cutting back and forth between songs, scratching and hitting buttons on cue. “It has all the fun of Guitar Hero but with a little more street cred,” Intel says between bites of chips and guac, adding, “The Grandmaster Flash narration is hilarious, although I’m not sure if that’s intentional.”
At a time when slumping unit sales threaten the music industry, music-based gaming has become big business. In August, during the Beatles: Rock Band mania, The New York Times reported that Rock Band and Guitar Hero have earned more than $3 billion and that a song’s inclusion in either game can yield a ten-fold increase in iTunes sales. The paper also noted that bands such as Pearl Jam are releasing records for games at the same time they release them traditionally.
DJ Hero ($119.99) is out now for Xbox, PlayStation and Nintendo Wii