Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Electric Boogaloo - DJ Hero 2 Electro Mix Pack Review

If you’re a fan of DJ Hero,you’re likely asking for two things. More music, and a larger presence of electro/techno. Fortunately, Freestyle Games acknowledges that there are two types of people in this world. Those who like Electro, and...everyone else. But the fans, (especially those overseas) demanded it, Freestyle Games listened, and now for our listening pleasure (or horror), the Electro Mix Pack is finally here. Countering the preponderance of amazing hip-hop and R&B mixes this game contains is no small feat however. Does it stack up in a way that’ll make our European and electro fans happy, ALONG with the somewhat alienated American audience?


DJ Hero 2 "Electro Mix Pack" (Downloadable Content)
For: Xbox 360, PS3, Wii (Songs sold as individual tracks)
Publisher: Activision/Freestyle Games
Price: 640 Microsoft Points, $7.99 PSN, 300 Wii points (per track)
Release: 11/16/2010

Reviewed on Expert difficulty

LMFAO "I'm In Miami" vs. Green Velvet "Shake & Pop"

I have a bit of a funny relationship with LMFAO (read: indifference) and nothing has really changed..until now*. The key difference between then and now is the addition of Green Velvet's "Shake and Pop". Both songs have a similar beat structure, a heavy, dirty electro sound, and the result is a pretty danceable mashup combines the best of both while throwing a pretty decent challenge around as well. There are strangely off-beat taps to deal with, a decent number of rhythmic crossfades, and plenty of freestyle sections that allow you to mess around with each track as you please.

Overall, a pretty fun, nonthreatening track that's more memorable for it's off-key challenge than its sound.

(*..I still don't like them.)

Rating: 4/5

Steve Aoki feat. Zuper Blahq - "I'm In The House"

While it doesn’t sound terribly different from the original, this beat juggle of Steve Aoki’s I’m In The House actually in my opinion surpasses the regular version with a heaping dose of crazed turntablism. Crossfades aplenty, taps inside of crossfades, scratches inside of taps inside of crossfades, plenty of freestyle sections, and an elevated pace make this not only one of the most challenging songs in the game, but an incredibly fun track that makes you feel like you’re in control of its high speed sound. Though it’s a great listen, this track actually became my favorite in the entire pack to play, no small feat considering the mixes in the final track..

Rating: 5/5

Simian Mobile Disco - "Hustler" vs. Technotronic - "Pump Up The Jam"

This is brilliant. No, really. Similar to the first mix, both songs were picked with an expert ear—the tracks sound similar enough in structure to segue into each other with nary a hitch, and they’re blended so incredibly well here, it almost makes you wish the original sounded this good. Pump Up The Jam’s shoulder moving rhythms flow perfectly into Hustler’s periodic lyrical injections (I'm a hustler, baby) during verses and saves the louder, more energetic parts of both songs for the hooks. The chorus lines are also the parts where the turntable is going to see the most work, with heavy scratches dominating most of the rhythms, and taps filling in the blanks where the unpredictable crossfades won’t fit. If I have any complaint, it’s that the challenge of the song does at times distract from it’s great sound, but it’s still highly enjoyable and a fun track to play in battle mode because of its unpredictable rhythm.


Overall, I can’t say I had a problem with this pack. I’m not the biggest fan of electro, but the songs chosen were iconic and fun enough to play, and the challenge is still up there in a way that still keeps the game fresh, even if you’ve already 5-starred most of (or all) of the game already. Yes, it's true that the gere may not appeal to you, but I'd encourage most fans of music to check it out due to the fact that you may experience the Guitar Hero effect (fandom gained by playing new music instead of just listening) and gain yourself some new artists to add to your roster.


It’s funny, between release and now, we’ve seen 6 all-new mixes, 14 returning ones from the original, and one can only wonder, what’s next? It’s been 20 extra songs in a little over a month! They’ve got to keep this momentum going as long as they’ve got it, right? I know I’m prepared for--


Well! This might be worth checking out..I looks like it’s free and only going on for a week..

Continue Reading..

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Return of the Pack - DJ Hero 2 DLC Review

This is late.

Arguably, I've been busy, or you could say I've just been busy playing this.

The love affair with DJ Hero 2 continues. Even a month later. The music's still amazing, the mixes are still fun to play, and I've even picked up the mic more than a few times to go along with what my friends are doing on the wheels of ...plastic?

Ahem. It's a great time.

But we aren't so easily satisfied. With the learning curve and amazement of innovation missing this time around, returning players and pros are already clamoring for more music. Most of all this particular reviewer has bee scratching his neck feverishly, and can you blame him? They've promised to consistently deliver, with the first pack hitting two weeks after release.

If what I experienced last week was any indication of what's to come for the next 12 months, then...oh man.

DJ Hero 2 "Hit Makers Pack" (Downloadable Content)
For: Xbox 360, PS3, Wii (Songs sold as individual tracks)
Publisher: Activision/Freestyle Games
Price: 640 Microsoft Points, $7.99 PSN, 300 Wii points (per track)
Release: 11/4/2010

(Pack was reviewed at Expert Difficulty)

The first thing that immediately stands out about DJ Hero 2 are the high production values. Not talking about the graphics, but the music. Just about every track is so well produced, so seamlessly cut and mashed it's almost startling to play. It's something that has to be seen to be believed. Everything feels so professional, so alive, it evokes an almost incredulous moment of disbelief that you're experiencing them through a turntable controller instead of an actual deck, or in a club.

This feeling carries over into the DLC almost to a tee, with three mixes hitting all the right notes in a way that feels like FS Games are asking us--

"What, you thought we were done?"

Usher feat. Will.I.Am - "OMG"

Going off this track alone, the answer is no. The only remix of the pack that isn't a mashup, it sounds largely the same, but definitely has a higher tempo and feels even more like a Black Eyed Peas track than it did before. The upside is that this song's lyrics make sense, and it's hell of a lot of fun to play. Challenging taps, some fun freestyle parts, and some fun rhythmic scratches make a very danceable track even better.

Rating: 5/5

Big Boi feat. Cutty - "Shutterbugg" vs. Mark Morrison - "Return Of The Mack"

Easily the standout track of the entire pack, this mix of Shutterbugg with the classic Return of the Mack is not only the best mix in the pack, but it's one of the best mixes in the entire game. Big Boi's boisterous lyrics fit in perfectly with Morrison's returning player theme, and what results is an excessively smooth track that even manages to incorporate En Vogue in one part. Disappointingly, it doesn't have many freestyle crossfade sections, but it's a minor complaint.

The song just reeks fun and old-school flavor, and is a blast to play as well, with clever crossfades, well placed samples, and one (aww) freestyle crossfade that lets you blend Shutterbug's jumpy beats and RotM's smooth draw to great effect towards the end. It's just superb.

Seriously. I dare you to listen to "Return of the-- B.I.G. B.O.I." and not shift in your seat with excitement.

Rating: 5/5

Rihanna - "Umbrella" vs. Marvin Gaye - "Let's Get It On"

It sounds strange in a preview, and even as a complete song, it still sounds odd. But there's something about the closing track of this mix pack that just -works-. It may be because mixing Marvin Gaye with anything may be a recipe for success, but Rihanna's come hither lyrics slowed down running over MG's song just feels nice, and makes Umbrella listenable (I can't stand the original). The excessively slow tempo may throw one for a loop, but it's a decent challenge, if only the freestyle sections were more unique, but there's hardly anything to play with on the few times you do get to have control. Pretty solid, pretty cool, but definitely the odd one out.

Rating: 4/5

Saving the best for last, the backwards compatibility update is out as well, and more than just a simple import track option, they've also been updated with all of the freestyle moves and new gameplay additions from the sequel! Sometimes the new additions work well, sometimes they just sound strange, but the undeniable cool that comes with playing the DLC tracks from the original and scoring into the stratosphere negates said rough patches (mostly related to samples). Also, call me crazy, but it seems as if more post production was done on each track, because they sound MUCH cleaner than they did before. It's just a shame you can't "like" the track like the on-disc songs, but it's hardly a deal-breaker. Even though this update took a while, it was well worth the wait.

Rating: 5/5

I'm always happy to announce when Freestyle Games has done it again, and they have. This pack is a great way to kick off all the new DLC, and because the backwards compatibility update is out as well, now couldn't be a better time to be a DJ Hero 2 player.

Here's to the Electro Mix Pack on Tuesday, yes?

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Actualized Love Pixels

I've been a bit busy these days.

Not too long to game, however. Well, portably.

So inbetween the cracks of my daily life, I find myself checking the APP store weekly, and I happened across a retro ditty by the name of Pix'n Love Rush.

It's pretty cool.

Clocking in at a fine .99 cents and featuring no narrative, clear objective, or goal, you're tasked with guiding this funky creature (think a Space Invader who sprouted legs through an endless gauntlet of random platforming challenges set to the best of pixel lore.

If you read that last sentence and started scratching your head, let me explain. Via running and jumping, you have one objective: Collecting coins. As you collect more, avoiding enemies and obstaces, your multiplier goes up. As your multiplier increases, the entire visual makeup of the game morphs (along with the music) from a high definition, almost Geometry Wars like aesthetic to a look more inclined to a GameBoy Advance. Collect more, and it switches to a Virtual Boy like display, with Tetris-esque imagery and a red, pixilated tone.

This continues until you're at your most basic, which starts looking more akin to a 1989 gameboy. Not only is the visual effect extremely cool and seamless, but with each change, the stages get tougher and more varied, with red herrings like disappearing platforms, and vertically scrolling stages ala Ice Climber It almost feels like you're going backward through portable console generations, and with only one hit required for you to lose momentum (and one multiplier), it quickly turns into a frantic twitch affair, both in its 5 minute and endless modes.

The package is pretty barebones, yes, with little to unlock other than the aformentioned infiinite mode, but it doesn't change the fact that what little you do get is addictive. There's a certain charm in its old-school feel, and things get just frantic and shaken up enough in the later levels to keep things interesting. There are also Game Center achievements, and leaderboards to extend the frenzy a bit, but really, this is the kind of game that doesn't need to bribe you to come back. After all, who doesn't miss the times when our sole purpose was either running or jumping?

Oh yeah. It's also a dollar. Seriously. :)

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Monday, November 1, 2010

Retinasizer does.

I have a bone to pick with certain developers on the iPhone.

To be honest, post June 24th, 2010, no one has any excuse to make a game that doesn't support the Retina Display. None!

If you are a developer who has a AAA title that you update periodically (looking at you, Capcom, SF4?!), you have no excuse. Why do you want your games to look bad on the new display that you know everyone else will be using?

We have moved on. We have since doubled our display resolution from 480x320, to 960x640.

This means that games fitted for the older resolution are being blown up for the newer display, with a disgusting pinch of edge smoothing for good measure.
I have personally refused to pay $9.99 for Sonic 4 in the App Store until they fix this. Many games, like Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars , also share the same fate (the latter being a slap in the face because R* took the time to upconvert it for the iPad)

But in the interim, we have jailbreaks. A free update through Cydia called Retinasizer by Sticktron does exactly what Sega and those other companies refuse to do in the form of a tweak that forces game content to run at the iPhone 4's higher resolution. It doesn't work with every game yet and is still very rough around the edges, but there's no denying that if someone can come up with a general purpose tweak and force it, then these companies are just sleeping on purpose.

If you have a (jailbroken) iPhone, I implore you to check it out, as the difference really is night..

..and day.

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