DJMax Technika Tune is the latest rhythm game in the DJMax Technika series. If you haven’t heard of the DJMax series, it’s a  Korean touch based rhythm game similar to Elite Beat Agents (or Osu! Tatakae! Ouendan, if you want to be elitest about it). The base gameplay consists of tapping notes in time with the beat of various songs as indicated by a “time line” that scrolls across the screen, the idea being that if you tap a note when it lines up directly with the time line, you get the max amount of points for the note.

It’s a simple concept, but it suits the Vita amazingly well with its large touch screen. There is even a mode that implements the back touch screen as well. For certain notes that you have to hold or for ‘repeat’ notes that normally require you to hit the same location on the screen even after the time line has passed it, you can tap your finger on the back of the vita and hit the notes just the same. This is a perfect fit for the Vita. With the back touch screen disabled you are pretty much required to use both of your index fingers to hit some of the rapid succession of notes that will barrage you on the harder difficulties. The advantages of back-touch are that it works well for a portable experience, you can hold it in one hand and still play, but the two modes still offer quite different challenges, and each has a unique feel. Using only the main screen is a far more skill-testing and intense way to play the game, whereas the dual screen mode feels less hectic. However, juggling your focus between the screen and touch pad can still be quite challenging.

A lot of the music in the game, coming from Korea, is unsurprisingly K-pop. As someone who likes most K-pop, I still found few of the songs here I found quite insufferable, but the rest are done well and there is still a good mix of other genres like rap and the ever-hilarious gabber which makes for some fun, face-paced, high adrenaline levels.

The music in this game isn’t just a static track, however. Tapping on the notes actually trigger certain sound clips that the correspond to in the song. This means that if you miss a note, a certain sound bite won’t play, or if you are off time, a part of the music will be as well. In my opinion, this isn’t a good mechanic in rhythm games. If you ever get offbeat, it makes it more difficult to get back in the game. Of course, it doesn’t ruin the experience, and it’s a nice unforced incentive to want to do well other than just for the score, but it can be rather infuriating to miss a large section because you’re offbeat and can’t hear what the actual beat is.

The game has plenty of content, 67 tracks to play with multiple difficulties named idiosyncratically, with Star, Pop, and Club Mixing referring to Easy, Medium, and Hard, respectively. There is even progression built in: you can level up your account and unlock various skins that will give you bonuses, such as forgiveness for missing one note a song, more HP, or faster HP recharge.

The hardest difficulty has an interesting execution It requires you to pick a “disk set”, which then gives you a choice of 5 songs for you to pick 3 from. You play all the songs in succession, and then a 4th “boss” song comes up, much more difficult than the three before. If you screw up at any point, you start from scratch. And believe me – you’ll screw up plenty at this difficulty. While this mode can be rather brutal, it rewards skill over simply memorizing note locations. Since you don’t really know what you’re going to have to face, you should be prepared for anything if you want to have a reliable chance of passing.

My major gripes with the game are with the UI and menus. For instance, the main menu operates like a radial dial on a phone. You can’t just tap on an option and go to it, you have to spin the dial around until the cursor is over what you want, then tap on it. Just… wat. Also, in hard mode when selecting songs, you have to drag what you want down to the playlist area. They just like dragging, apparently.

The final, and most glaring UI flaw that I found is with their “fever” mechanic. Fever works a lot like Star Power in Guitar Hero, and the like – when you activate Fever, you get 100% accuracy on every note, as long as you don’t totally whiff it. The problem with Fever is that it’s, quite simply, difficult to activate. The hitbox for the button to activate it is microscopic, and as far away from the action as possible. Half of the time, the tap doesn’t register, and then I’m just screwed over, as I proceed to miss the next note and have to regain the meter to attempt to activate fever again.

Despite such annoyances, the core game play is solid. The controls are usually responsive, the songs are diverse and rather fun, and its various difficulties give a lot of replay value. If you’re a fan of rhythm games I would recommend it, but if they aren’t your thing, I don’t think this game brings anything new to the table that would change your mind.


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3 Responses to “DJMAX TECHNIKA TUNE REVIEW – release”

  1. anon says:

    Anyone ever try the original Dj Max series for the regular PSP? that shits hard..

    • Luis E Alvarado says:

      I have, and yes Black Square was notorious for that, but DJMax 2 was the killer in fact.
      Yet, I’ve played them all, they all have their killer songs and DJMax Technika needs to get some DLC with those songs I miss!

  2. anon says:

    Yes yes, I agree, been stuck in Black Square at about 40% of the game for 2 years now..idk if i’ll ever get past it..