Friday, March 26, 2010

Getting Addicted to DJ Max Technika

What's the part of my nick that makes it related to this topic?

If you guessed "Dj", yep it is. :D

Actually, before I went to college, me and my classmate are planning on taking up Bachelor of Science in Mass Communication, since it's needed to become a radio DJ. I like being in a studio full of equipment and CDs (mp3s nowadays since mixing in between songs is so easy to manage thru professional-standard DJ mixing software), playing great songs myself and the listening audience like to hear.

But I DO also like to do club mixing and DJ scratching, but given that the necessary equipment are so expensive, I leave it out of the equation.

KONAMI revolutionized the music simulation games with "Beatmania" series (a DJ simulation game) since 1997, and paved way to other music games like the internationally known and famous "Dance Dance Revolution" (or DDR) series (foot-oriented dance simulation game), DanceManiaX (hand-oriented dance simulation game), Guitar Freaks (guitar simulation game), Drummania (drum simulation game, with actual electronic drum pads provided by Yamaha), Keyboardmania (music keyboard simulation game), and ParaParaParadise (hand-oriented dance simulation game, mimics the actual "parapara" dance routines from ParaParaParadise, Japan's popular series of parapara dance video). Other companies followed: Andamiro's "Pump It Up" series of dance simulation games (uses 5 panels with 4 diagonal arrows and 1 center, unlike DDR's 4 panels with up, down, left and right arrows), Neversoft/Activision's "Guitar Hero" series of guitar simulation games (Harmonix developed GH1&2 before going to MTV Networks and created "Rock Band", then Neversoft took over GH and release GH3, GH Aerosmith, GH World Tour, Band Hero, and the recent GH5). Similar to KONAMI's Beatmania is "EZ2DJ" from Amuse World.

I've known the the word "DJ Max" before. Yeah, it was known first as an online game from Pentavision, which is pretty much similar to O2Jam, but it's WAAAAAAY too different in terms of features, graphics (I just don't understand the visualization of O2Jam... you got yourself an avatar, dress it up, add some instruments of your choice, and that's it. While in DJ Max, you got nice visualizations in a form of pre-rendered 3d graphics that looks like a music video or AMV), and overall style. But I've come to know that word in "DJ Max Portable", a PSP port of the DJ Max online game (minus the online capability though). There are 4 versions: DJ Max Portable, DJ Max Portable Clazziquai Edition, and DJ Max Portable Black Square. Refer to the Wikipedia article and the official DJ Max gateway for more info.

Pentavision took the DJ Max franchise even further by creating an arcade version of it in 2008, named "DJ Max Technika: Beyond The Future". It's entirely different than the previous DJ Max iterations, and also different from other DJ simulation games (Beatmania, for example): the game uses an infrared touchscreen monitor to manipulate notes shown in the screen (tap once for normal notes, hold for long notes, and point-and-drag for dragging long notes), instead of the keyboard buttons (for DJ Max online), PSP buttons (DJ Max portable), and traditional analog buttons & turntables (Beatmania, EZ2DJ). There's also a decently large screen (32 in. LCD monitor) for spectators to see. The overall arcade cabinet design is totally awesome, with all the glowing lights (I bet its an LED matrix, covered in a white translucent cover for a glowing effect) at both sides that has different movement patterns depending on the nature of gameplay. The sound is excellent, using Sony Xplod speaker sets as satellite speakers, although I'm not so sure about the bass speaker used is still Sony (but given that high quality deep bass, I bet it's still from Sony). The platform where you stand at makes a vibration, probably simulating the environment of a wide-scaled club party that houses lots of huge speakers that tend to vibrate the entire area). It also has a headphone jack with analog volume control in case you tend to get REALLY serious on playing by listening closely and clearly to the music in order to achieve more accuracy on hitting notes. And lastly, there's a slot for Platinum Crew card. Speaking of Platinum Crew cards, it's an ID card similar to other games that used an ID card feature (Tekken 5 & 6, Initial D Arcade Stage version 4, etc.): registering you name/nick for rankings, saving game progress, edit game profiles, access to extra features not found in non-ID card mode, etc. 2 year after the success of Technika, Pentavision announced that there will be successor to it, called "DJ Max Technika 2: Crew Race".

I don't know when, but Timezone - NCCC Mall branch got some new arrivals, and one of them is DJ Max Technika. At first, I was totally curious about the looks of the arcade cabinet. Then I was getting more curious on how it's played: some players are looking down on some kind of colored rectangular panel, and they point and tap their fingers on it. As I getting closer, that panel was an infrared touchscreen monitor. I was like.... WHOOOOOA... is this some kinda DS-like gameplay, with touchscreen on bottom and normal monitor facing the player? It's not some point-and-tap gameplay either, but it was more like an interactive kind of gameplay by manipulating scattered but patterned notes (in a form of orbs) you see on the screen. In one screen, there are 2 rows where a white-colored "time line" scrolls in one continuous flow (the top row scrolls from left to right, while the bottom row scrolls from right to left). When the time line passes on the center of the note (orb), just tap that note on the touchscreen. Simple, right? Well, easy to say than done, as the song difficulty increases, the more complex the pattern of the notes will be. Hell, even at "Lite Mixing" mode (for beginners), level 3 is already difficult on some, while level 4 as also considered difficult on Popular Mixing mode (aimed at players who had experienced the game). The songs are also great, and has a range of different music genres to cater most (if not all) players. If you ask me, I prefer Japanese songs that Korean. Maybe I'm greatly attached to the Japanese music and their distinctive style and form. But judging from the Korean songs I listened while looking for songs to play, it's not that bad at all. I wish they could add more Japanese songs.

I asked the Timezone staff if they have the Platinum Crew card. Luckily, they have in stock although there are only 2 designs: one is the "Fury theme" from the song "Fury" by Sugardonut found in the game, but I forgot the other card theme. It costs P300 each, which was the most expensive stuff I bought in an arcade game center. Fortunately, there's no usage limit unlike some ID cards from other arcade games, so this makes a one-time only purchase. Unfortunately, once the card is stolen or damaged, your data goes bye2x as well. I posted the pics of the card (front and back) and myself holding the card below.

There goes my blog entry. I'll try to take some pictures (or even videos) of me playing DJ Max Technika if I got enough time (and money, since P28.00 is no joke for a single game). Oh yeah, looks like I have to repair my good ol' Phillips headphone (the phone jack's busted) so I can use it for the game in case I wanna pay attention more to the music.
BTW, here are 2 videos of one of the songs I love in the game, called "In My Heart" performed by Misato and composed by Tsukasa, originally in Japanese (which is the reason why I love that song) but sadly the english version doesn't come close to the original. The first one is the album track version (no video, just the song aaken from the OST CD and the background wallpaper used in the game), and the next one is the actual video of the song in the game with notes all over the screen (it's a Popular Mixing mode difficulty).

Tsukasa - In My Heart (album track version)

Tsukasa - In My Heart (gameplay video)

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