DJ Max Portable 2 (PSP) review
"DJ Max Portable 2 hails from Korea, but it might as well sit on every retail shelf in America. The first time it’s loaded up, the game lets you select between options of English, Korean, and Japanese. From that point forward, all instructions appear in the chosen language. This title is an exciting test of your rhythmic ability, it’s packed with an eclectic mix of music, and it’s perfectly accessible to a large portion of the game-playing public. "
DJ Max Portable 2 hails from Korea, but it might as well sit on every retail shelf in America. The first time it’s loaded up, the game lets you select between options of English, Korean, and Japanese. From that point forward, all instructions appear in the chosen language. This title is an exciting test of your rhythmic ability, it’s packed with an eclectic mix of music, and it’s perfectly accessible to a large portion of the game-playing public.
The quantity of the songs included on the disc is nice; there’s over sixty once all the goodies are discovered. The more impressive point, though, is the unique variety included. There are traditional genres like rock, pop, jazz, and R&B, but they’re coupled with specialized descriptors. Gospel and Nu. Astro and Ani. Funky Breaks and sCool. (Yes, it is too cool for the ‘H.’) Past that, there’s even stranger combinations. Electro Big Band. Oriental Trance. Ethnic Techno. So many of the songs refreshingly merge two completely different styles of sound; there’s bound to be something that wholly surprises you.
Even a majority of the vocals are in English. The only truly foreign aspect of this game is the manual – at least in the standard release – but the basics are easy to understand. The playing area is skinned to look like a cellphone’s display, and it’s divided into columns, each one corresponding to a different button. When notes fall from the top to the bottom of the screen, you hit the correct combination to sound out the melody. Button mashing is possible on the lowest levels – DJ Max doesn’t want to stifle creativity by penalizing improvisation – but the result is a murky clatter. Instead, your brain has to form a reflexive association between your fingers, eyes, and ears in order to cover all the chords. It feels a lot like learning a new instrument.
The singular objective is simple: master every rhythm of every song. But DJ Max 2 contains enough content to keep you busy for a while. Maybe forever. Four button mode is the beginner’s starting point, but that’s augmented by five, six, and an unlockable how-is-it-even-humanly-possible eight button challenge. That’s four buttons for each hand, while a hurricane of sixteenth notes rains down on your head. In addition to an overall difficulty setting, the songs themselves have numerous mixes; plus you can set affectors to speed up the rate at which the bars drop, have the notes fade out, or completely randomize the columns where they fall. There’s always another way to make the game harder.
But there’s still more. Missions use preselected playlists and set forth certain conditions: clearing a high score, limiting misses, or maintaining a certain level of accuracy. And it might just happen to flip the screen upside down to get in your way. Finally, you can participate in one-on-one battles using the PSP’s ad-hoc capability. As a reward for toiling in all these features, DJ Max 2 has more than 500 unlockable items: skins for the player, different symbols for the notes, wallpapers, and anime music videos (these play in the background during each stage).
For as long as Pentavision supports it, you can even go on the company’s website, enter a code, and see how you rank against other DJ’s. Okay, maybe you have to know Korean for that, but nothing else about the game is bound by language constraints. More important, it showcases an exciting musical range and offers an ever increasing level of challenge. It may take a million lessons to master, but DJ Max Portable 2 is worth the effort.
Community review by woodhouse (July 05, 2007)
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