Dec 31, 2012

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DJMax Technika Tune Review

DJMax Technika Tune Review

South Korean developer Pentavision’s DJMax has quickly grown to be one of the most popular music game series in Asia. With multiple releases for the PC, portable copies for the PSP and entries for iOS, DJMax has become a staple for music and rhythm gaming fans tired of peripheral heavy fare. The DJMax Technika series has already seen three different arcade entries released and has ported an adaptation to the Vita. Utilizing the Vita’s touch screens, DJMax Technika Tune attempts to bring the fast paced arcade action to the palms of our hands while blending in new ways to play the game. How well did Pentavision recreate their arcade magic for Sony’s next gen handheld?

DJMax Technika Tune looks and feels exactly like an arcade game is expected to. Players choose from a massive track list of over 60 songs ranging from K-Pop to trance music and are tasked with hitting notes utilizing the touch screens. The screen is split in half horizontally with a beat line flowing from left to right on the top screen then right to left on the bottom. Players must hit the corresponding notes when the beat line hits them and depending on what kind of note it is, they must act accordingly. Unlike the arcade games, the Vita version has notes that take advantage of the rear touch screen letting players experience a new way to play the game. While new doesn’t necessarily translate to good, it’s a welcome change that uses the platform in a different but appropriate manner.

The music videos that play in the background are bright, flashy and at times quite strange. Some songs are accompanied by the actual music videos of whichever artists is performing while others are just crazy off the wall AMVs. The songs themselves are for the most part enjoyable though it truly is a mater of preference. I personally like K-Pop so I fell in love with some of the songs. Outside of the K-Pop I found myself enjoying the rest of the selection provided including trance which I’ve never fancied before. Bass thumping songs like Kung Fu Rider further cemented my appreciation for the set list and I began to venture out to any and all songs available. Even if you’re not a fan of these specific genres you’ll definitely find more then a handful of songs that you’ll want to play over and over again.

As stated earlier, the core game is pretty standard with very few modes ranging from differences in difficulty or set lists. The easiest mode utilizes just the front touch screen whereas the harder difficulties take advantage of the rear screen functionality. Playing on Normal difficulty feels fun and fresh with the rear notes adding a nice challenge but on Hard it often feels impossible. At times it felt awkward to alternate between tapping the back of the Vita to using my thumbs for the front buttons. Often times I would break combos because while holding rear notes with one hand the slightest adjustment would register a rear tap causing the note to stop. Luckily there’s a front screen only mode which is more similar to the arcade experience and is fun and fast paced. Once again though it’s a little awkward to play while holding the system because you’ll either overextend your thumbs or be forced to hold your system with one hand while tapping all the notes with the other.

In ideal situations though with the system flat and both hands free the game is an absolute blast. The songs are fun to tap along with and visually the game is a treat. The Vita’s large screen simulates the arcade experience quite well and each video is beautiful to look at. Hitting notes alongside each songs rhythm felt good and both screens were very responsive. The game is pretty forgiving in terms of touch placement and timing so newcomers can enjoy it while not feeling too overwhelmed. Of course the difficulty and forgiveness is thrown out the window when played on hard but that’s entirely understandable. All in all the game is a very enjoyable arcade experience and functions exactly as one would expect.

Like DDR and other arcade music games your mileage will vary depending on your enjoyment of each song. Although I had fun playing through each song, I never really felt compelled to continue on or step out of my musical comfort level. This isn’t to say that I didn’t  try every song but just that I never felt like there was much to work towards. However, if you’re the type of player that enjoys racking up big scores, grades or ranking higher then your friends on the leaderboards, then you’ll be perfectly fine with the games structure. Personally I felt that the game could have done a little more to differentiate between itself and the arcade games it’s based on though.

As with every game there are some minor issues with DJMax Technika Tune. As I mentioned before the rear screen notes while fun, have issues with notes breaking and design-wise weren’t fully thought out. Also, the entire experience can feel a bit barren with a major lack of modes. The implementation of even the simplest of single-player story or adventure modes would have been nice and the lack of any multiplayer is a tad disappointing. Finally it’s a bit odd that you have to exit out to the option menu to select your difficulty. You would think that you could select your difficulty after choosing a song but unfortunately that’s not the case. These issues may seem major but realistically none are deal-breakers for me.

For music and rhythm game enthusiasts I would definitely recommend picking up DJMax Technika Tune. The retail price point may seem a bit high but you’re getting 60+ songs as well as a well put together arcade port. This may not be the perfect game to play on the go but is definitely a solid experience. Though there is a major lack of variety and replay value could become stagnant, I thoroughly enjoyed my time with DJMax Technika Tune and if you enjoy music games I’m sure you will too.

DJ Max Technika Tune
Platform: PlayStation Vita
Genre: Rhythm & Music
Release Date: December 4, 2012
Developer: Pentavision
Publisher: Pentavision
ESRB Rating: T
MSRP: $39.99