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DJ Hero – Xbox 360

DJ Hero – Xbox 360

djheroboxPlatform: Xbox 360

Developer: FreeStyleGames

Publisher: Activision

Release Date (NA): October 27th, 2009

Genre: Music and Rhythm

Nerd Rating: 8.5 out of 10

I’d like to take you on a trip down memory lane to a time before I was obsessed with “the grind.” To a time before I was focused on improving my competitive stats, and before life hit me in the face with dreaded responsibility. I am, of course, talking about high school. During my tenure at Clayton High, I spent a lot of time gaming: a lot. Much more than I do now. During that time I mostly played the Guitar Hero series of games and the beautiful, yet underrated piece of excellence we’re discussing today: DJ Hero. For one reason or another, nothing but these games appealed to me.

The plot of DJ Hero follows the journey of a young Disc Jockey (the player) as he/she learns the ways of distorting, scratching, and mixing his or her way to glory and fame. Much like the Guitar Hero franchise, this game is based on the players’ ability to correctly play the selected songs, and focuses on the player improving their skills. In order to do this, players must master the custom controller.

This special controller for DJ Hero is designed to resemble a turntable; complete with a rotatable “record,” a crossfader, three “stream” buttons, an effects dial, and a Euphoria button.

Stream buttons (red), crossfader (blue), effect dial and Euphoria button (both in yellow)

Stream buttons (red), crossfader (blue), effect dial, and Euphoria button (both in yellow)

It is small enough to fit on the player’s lap, on a coffee table, bed, or for those with the Renegade Edition, a custom DJ Hero stand. Using the controller is simple enough–players wait for a sample (green, red, or blue) to appear on the track, press the appropriate buttons, and scratch the disc at the same time. The crossfader is used to change the sample, and the effect dial acts as the controller’s whammy bar; as the player turns the dial, the track is distorted. The Euphoria button, as you can probably guess, is the equivalent of “Star Power” in GH games. My advice to anyone who is starting out on this game: practice, practice, practice! Your arms and wrists will hurt after a while of playing, so take a break!

FreeStyleGames teamed up with a hoard of DJs and artists from various musical backgrounds to make the setlist for DJ Hero. DJ Jazzy Jeff, Grandmaster Flash, David Guetta, and the late DJ AM were among some of the talent that contributed to the creation of this game. The setlist includes mashups of some great songs across all genres of music all created by the DJs involved in production. My personal favorite: Daft Punk’s “Robot Rock,” mashed with Queen’s “We Will Rock You.” I am a huge Daft Punk and Queen fan so if none of the other outstanding remixes won my heart, this one did it.


My favorite French DJ duo

Graphically, the game is what players would come to expect from a Music and Rhythm type of game: more focus on special, flashing effects than on level and character design. Although, I was impressed with how DJ Hero presented itself. Just like in Guitar Hero games, the venues are neat, diverse, and change with the player’s performance. A good performance is marked by bright flashing light displays that go with the beat of the music, while a poor performance will include low, red lights and a booing crowd. DJs dance, scratch, and play to the same tune as the player, so if you miss a beat, so does the avatar on screen. Honestly, DJ Hero reminds me more of an upgraded version of the PS2 classic, Amplitude, as far as graphics, music, and gameplay go.

Harmonix's Amplitude looks and plays very similarly to DJ Hero.

Harmonix’s Amplitude looks and plays very similarly to DJ Hero.

While this game may not be targeted to classic, alt, or heavy metal and rock fans, I guarantee any fan of music can find a song they will enjoy scratching away at. While I hold this game in high regard, it’s not perfect by any means. While it is full of great music, awesome production, and amazing collaborations, progression is heeded by the requirement of getting oh-so-many stars on each song. This sometimes causes players to have to play a song over and over and hit a certain percentage of notes to continue with the game. If there’s a song early on the player can’t finish, then later songs cannot be unlocked without cheat codes. Apart from that, there are some issues with calibrating lag between player input and the actual song they are playing. Occasionally, the player will press/scratch a note and the game will register the input too early or too late, ruining a hi-note streak, or causing early failure. Most of the lag issues (like in GH) can be fixed via the Settings menu.

For those reasons, I gave DJ Hero an almost, almost-perfect score of 8.5 out of 10. In my opinion the game is a masterpiece. The controller is hard to come by now, but is surprisingly cheap. Potential players can pick up the game for as little as $4. Unfortunately, not many major retailers carry the whole setup anymore; to get the turntable controller, one must purchase it off the internet making it quite a hassle to actually play DJ Hero nowadays. Despite the hurdles involved with getting a proper setup, I recommend trying to find a copy out in the wild.

Or, try asking friends, family, neighbors, even strangers if you can borrow their copy as it will definitely be worth your time!

Written by Poseidon


Student, dreamer, video game enthusiast, with an affinity for all things anime. Poseidon (or Zack for short) is a full-time recruiter with a staffing agency in Raleigh, NC. When he’s not screening resumes and scheduling interviews, he’s usually nerding out and devouring vegan bacon in his free time.
If you have any questions or want to know more about Zack, reach out on Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn!
Twitch: PoseidonNB (schedule TBA)
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  1. Nerdberry
    Nerdberry says:

    Great review! I was a big GH fan, but I never got around to buying this. Looks fun though!

    • Poseidon
      Poseidon says:

      As was I! I couldn’t stop playing these kinds of games. Then one day DJ Hero found it’s way into my home and I had to hear “We Will Robot Rock You” every day.


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