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article imageOp-Ed: The fun of scratching your way to musical fame on DJ Hero Special

By David Silverberg     Nov 4, 2009 in Entertainment
I've always wanted to try to DJ. Now I can scratch and cross-fade like a beat junkie with the latest karaoke-style video game, DJ Hero. It's so addictive your fingers might actually cramp mid-tune.
The popularity of Guitar Hero and Rock Band has paved the way for the hip-hop version of the karaoke video game. Activision's DJ Hero is a turntable game satisfies hip-hop fans hungry for some Jazzy Jeff, Beastie Boys, 2Pac and more.
After trying out the game for several hours, I have to admit it's addictive -- especially if you have a hankering for dabbling in turntablism, where you can spin, scratch, cross-fade and urge the avatar DJ to pump up the crowd.
The game comes with a custom controller resembling a turntable, including three coloured buttons on the "record", similar to the buttons on a Guitar Hero guitar-controller. On the screen, when the beat begins to play, you have to hit the corresponding button at the right moment. As always with these games, timing and coordination is everything.
The DJ Hero controller
A platter-type controller resembles a turntable in DJ Hero
Courtesy Activision
DJ Hero gets a bit harder when you need to scratch and cross-fade. To scratch, you simply rub the "record" while holding down the right button, but perfecting the right amount of scratches isn't easy. It takes some practice, but once you're adept at scratching, it's one of the most enjoyable aspects of the game. In a Beastie Boys track, I couldn't help but bob my head to the beat as I scratched my way to a perfect score.
In the tutorial, I learned how to use the cross-fader switch, which moves the tune from track to track. Strangely, though, cross-fading doesn't come up until you skip past the beginner and easy settings and dabble with the medium levels.
All this handwork could result in some soreness. Just after an hour, my fingers on the right hand got a bit cramped up, mainly because I had to press down quickly on some of the more difficult tracks. But it's no different than the initial weirdness you might feel in your hands playing a game like Guitar Hero.
Big props to the track lists. They mix the highly sampled track "The Big Beat" by Billy Squier with N.E.R.D's "Lapdance", or they blend Jackson 5's "I Want You Back" with Gang Starr's "Just to get a rep." Those aren't tracks you would think could exist in holy matrimony, but the mix makes it work, and whoever produced DJ Hero's set list deserves a salary bonus.
I couldn't help but wax nostalgic when I heard some MC Hammer, Vanilla Ice, Young MC and Marvin Gaye. Of course, this game also wants to appeal to younger users, so they've included tracks by Rihanna, Weezer, Black Eyed Peas and 50 Cent.
The versus mode in DJ Hero
In DJ Hero, you can "battle" another DJ
Courtesy Activision
While I have yet to test out this feature, you can battle another turntablist in a head-to-head competition, especially useful for Xbox Live lovers. It's a great idea, considering the living room parties Guitar Hero has inspired.
Undoubtedly, DJ Hero is a breath of fresh dance-party air in the music game genre. I was able to satisfy my inner DJ by finally scratching along to my favourite hip-hop songs, a fantasy I've harboured since I first saw a turntablist slay it on the wheels of steel.
The best thing is, too, I can finally turn my living room into a dance party, and I can quarterback it all from my couch.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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