Review: DJ Max Technika Tune brings the arcade music experience to the Vita
Bemani-style games have certainly been in decline over the past few years, at least in the US. The Beatmania series never really kicked off here, since we never got a sequel to the PS2 game of the same name. The PSP however saw a resurgence in these Beatmania type games with DJ MAX, a korean take on the popular japanese Bemani series. DJ Max Fever and DJ Max Portable 3 were both stellar entries for the music game enthusiast.
Arcades however already have DJ Max's next iteration, Technika, which features touch-screen enabled gameplay. Since the Vita also boasts an impressively sized touch screen, it only made sense for the series to continue here with DJ Max Technika Tune.
The DJ Max series tasks players to 'complete' various songs by correctly timed button presses to trigger various instruments or vocals. A series of button presses can then become the songs drum track, the vocals in a chorus, a piano and much more. Think of it as Guitar Hero with the Vita being a multipurpose instrument, rather than just focusing on a single one.
Tune focuses solely on touch based controls. Aside from the Start button which pauses the song, the entire game, right down to the menus, is controlled with the touchscreen. So how exactly do you make sweet, sweet music with Tune? The top and bottom half of the screen are split up with the top half displaying notes going to the right, while the bottom displays them going left. A line slides across each lane to the beat and prompts you to push any of the buttons. It's not just simple taps though. Sometimes you'll have to hold down the note, tap on the same note multiple times, drag the note across a specific path, and on the harder difficulties, do these at the same time. What's more, it also utilizes the rear touchpad which makes the game much harder, but for those looking to ease into the game, can turn this feature off.
Thankfully the game splits the game up into three separate difficulties, Star Mixing, Pop Mixing and Club Mixing. Star only tasks you to tap and to drag notes, while Pop introduces the other types of notes right from the get go. Club Mixing is a true challenge as you're tasked to clear four songs (three of your choosing and one mystery song) on one single health bar. It'll take time to get accustomed to Tune's touch-based gameplay, but if you progress through the difficulties in order, by the time you get to Club, you'll feel like a DJ already.
Tune also includes a staggering amount of songs, a few that are exclusively new to the Vita version, but a majority are all from past DJ Max titles. Guys, just a word of advice, leave your man card at home when playing Technika Tune. There is a whole lot of K-Pop in the game, which makes sense considering the game's origins. Just expect a lot of cute animations and sexy Korean girl groups performing for you while you tap, tap, tap away.
There are tons of things to unlock in Tune as well. From various DJ Icons that have different properties such as +7% EXP or +20% Health, different note skins, bonus videos, to wallpapers, you'll have a lot of stuff to acquire. By beating a song, you acquire a certain amount of EXP, which then helps you level up your DJ Profile. Each level then rewards you with some sweet goodies.
There is quite a barrier of entry, but I can't see the average user dropping $45 on a game or genre they have no prior history with. DJ Max fans will appreciate the next evolution for the series (those who were never exposed to Technika in the arcades) and the amount of content offered in the game justifies the high price tag, if you're a fan of the genre.