Rhythm games may not be as popular as they were a few years ago, but the appeal is still undeniable. They are incredibly simple to grasp, addicting to play and typically appeal to a wide range of audiences – depending on the music. While it may not be quite as alienating as Just Dance for Kids, DJMax Technika Tune doesn’t exactly sport the most main-stream of soundtracks for western audiences. Being the first substantial release of a tap-based rhythm game on the PlayStation Vita, the appearance of the game will still interest lots of people. If you’re dying to get fingerprints all over your shiny Vita screen, then DJMax may have just what you’re looking for…
The PlayStation Vita really is a great platform for this genre. The system has motion sensing in it, a front and a back touchscreen, a microphone, a huge and beautiful screen; basically every bell and/or whistle you could ever want. Thankfully DJMax doesn’t go out of its way to be the crazy and gimmicky game that tries to utilize every feature a device possesses. Instead, it regulates itself to only the touch controls to great effect.
During a song, the screen is split in half horizontally into two bard. A vertical line slides across the top half from left to right and the bottom half from right to left. The objective is to tap circles at the precise moment the sliding vertical line matches up with vertical line inside the circle. This mechanic forms the basic foundation of the gameplay and it sounds simple, doesn’t it? Well, it gets a bit more complicated than that.
The game will also throw into the mix sliding bars where you have to hold your finger as the circle slides across a line, there are some circles that must be tapped at the same time and there are even some circles that must be tapped using only the back touchpad. Once you get into the more advanced songs, things can quickly get crazy. I preferred to use only the front screen, lay the Vita down on a desk and tap away. I found it uncomfortable to hold in one hand and play with the other, especially for longer periods of time, but this was mostly due to the weight of the Vita itself and not the game’s mechanics.
What the game has in gameplay intensity, it lacks in game mode variety. You can play the arcade mode, which allows you to pick from a few different difficulties and sets of songs. There is also a cool option to tweak the settings and have the circles appear right before they need to be hit, or fade away more quickly, etc. Overall though, besides playing through songs in a linear fashion and receiving a letter grade, there isn’t much else to do. I’m not sure how creative they really could have gotten, but maybe a few different gameplay styles or minigames would have been nice.
As you play songs you will unlock more songs, images, videos and the like. You can also unlock “profiles” and different items to use that offer bonuses like XP boosters or give you a shield that requires you to miss more notes before your combo breaks. These are nice to use and ensure each time you play a song for the first time there are always plenty of things to unlock.
While playing, the backdrop of the song is a fully animated music video. Some songs have live action music videos, but most of them are animated. This is probably due to the fact that ~75% of the songs in the game are a mixture of trance, dubstep, K-Pop and other less mainstream genres. This is not to say it’s a bad choice of music – the beats are extremely catchy and fun to play, I have a song stuck in my head right now (althought I have no idea what the actual words are, I just have my own interpretation of what the Korean sounds like on repeat in my skull.) However, the soundtrack might be a little off-putting to some people.
- Extremely addicting gameplay
- Very catchy music
- Wonderful visuals
- Limited gameplay variety
- Obscure music selection for western audiences
- Hefty price tag (about $40) for a game like this
Final Grade: B-
Let us know what you think of this game and the review in the comments section below. What is your favorite rhythm game of all-time?
This review was conducted on a PlayStation Vita version of the game provided by Pentavision Global.