Wednesday, 17 August 2011

Review: DJ Hero "demake"

Eric Ruth is a well-known games developer who has devoted his free time to creating freeware games. His "de-makes" have gained a significant amount of popularity on the internet, including Pixel Force: Halo, Pixel Force: Left 4 Dead and DJ Hero.

Unfortunately, due to a copyright claim filed by Universal Music, the download link for DJ Hero has sadly been removed from Eric Ruth's website. However, the internet is a big place, and if you look hard enough, you may just be lucky enough to find a copy somewhere. 

DJ Hero is Eric Ruth's "de-make" on the highly successful rhythm game by Activision. The game comprises of an on-screen turntable, where buttons (or "notes") traverse down the dotted lines towards the coloured buttons at the bottom of the screen. The player must try to hit these notes right on top of the circles at the bottom, in order to keep the song sounding note-perfect, and to achieve a high score.

What enchanted me about DJ Hero the most is the chiptune mash-ups that Eric Ruth has created. Players will get a choice of completing six songs, with mash-ups including Joan Jett & Queen, Michael Jackson & Madonna, (my personal favourite) Ray Parker Jr & Huey Lewis and the News, and three others. Not only does the chiptune music work in favour with the retro look, but it's catchy, and extremely well done. Yes, the game is extremely hard at times, but the music keeps me coming back for more.
Those familiar with Eric Ruth's games will know that he favours a retro 8-bit style. DJ Hero adopts this style also, and it looks great. The colours are bright and eye-catching, the pixel animation is smooth running, and the little details, such as the silhouettes of the crowd and the DJ at the booth in the background are nice touches.

As previously mentioned, DJ Hero can be rather hard at times. Thankfully though, this de-make is somewhat forgiving, allowing you to complete the song and still be graded out of five rather than make you fail the song if you have missed too many notes, like Rock Band or Guitar Hero adopt. This means that even if you are struggling, at least you have the chance to perhaps redeem yourself throughout the duration of the level. If not though, at least the catchy chiptune music is worth playing to the end of the track for. Those who are great at the harder levels of rhythm games such as the original DJ Hero should be able to approach this with greater ease than others though.

It's good, but...
One of my main problems with DJ Hero is that the controls take a long time to get used to. The up and down arrows adopt the "w" and "s" keys, shifting the buttons to the left or right use the "a" and "d" keys, and the A and B buttons adopt the "h" and "u" buttons on the keyboard. As you can see, there are a lot of buttons being used in the game at once. At times, especially in the faster songs, the player will be using all six at the same time-something which even now, I am not fully used to. Heck, perhaps my co-ordination skills are not particularly great. Overall, this retro version of DJ Hero is extremely hard for the most part, which may put off those who were not expecting to be thrown in the deep end. 

Another minor issue is that the buttons do not always sync with the music completely. Whilst this may not happen all the time, it definitely throws you off the rhythm when one approaches at the wrong pace. As the game is incredibly fast at points, engaging in the same rhythm once again can not only take some time, but can be a considerable challenge also. 
Eric Ruth's DJ Hero de-make is extremely well done. The chiptune mash-ups of popular songs done by artists such as Madonna and Michael Jackson are catchy, and sound fantastic. The retro look of the game adds in a lot of charm to the proceedings. However, there are some slight drawbacks which make DJ Hero a little hard to engage with at times. These include the confusing amount of buttons, the fast and challenging difficulty level, and the occasional notes which are not completely in sync with the music.

On the whole, DJ Hero is a great free-mium game by Eric Ruth. Fans of the original DJ Hero should appreciate this version, whilst the retro look and feel is appealing to a vast audience. Hats off to Eric Ruth once again for creating a successful de-make. 


  1. Great article! I did an interview with the guy behind both DPad Hero games recently:

  2. Thanks for the kind comment! I interviewed Eric Ruth a few weeks back to. :)

    I shall check out your interview now!


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