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Tycho / on Wed, Nov 18 2009 at 12:00 am

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Grim

I have to say that we found DJ Hero quite interesting, actually.  I understand that it didn’t sell particularly well, but that’s never been an especially valid barometer of aesthetics.

It’s significant to me that the music you’re playing in the game is new, purpose-built material.  I’ve heard that the track list is one of the main problems with this experiment, but I’m prepared to call that perspective devilry - I don’t see any value in equivocation.  Some songs are mixed more than once, and this results in diminished satisfaction, but if after a few half-hearted scratches you’ve determined that what they’ve accomplished in the game musically has no value, you’re precisely the sort of person whose opinions in this matter may be safely avoided.

I think there’s opportunities for the gameplay to move even further, using Frequency and Amplitude as a model, allowing for gripping custom mixes.  They’ve already secured rights well beyond what any other music game allows with their clever interpretations, and I wonder what it would take to secure the next step.  I find this approach substantially more interesting than the “music creator” available in Guitar Hero, transforming every pack of DLC into grist for your own creations.

Despite what we might have offered as an explanation in the strip, I’m not certain that being a DJ is as broad an aspiration as the roles already mined by the flagging rhythm game ouvre.  Add to this the fact that DJ Hero is based on what is (for most people) a fairly alien means of interaction, with many fiddly gameplay bits, and its destiny begins to look very murky - independent of its quality, which I assert is actually quite high. It is a well-made thing which very few people want.

At a hundred and twenty dollars, it rests on the same lofty economic perch as the recently released Tony Hawk Ride.  It is as though Activision came up with the price point first, and then arrayed products against it, in some feat of holiday tactics. We purchased a copy yesterday, but our own experience with Ride was almost completely incoherent.  I’m not certain how much more time we’ll be putting into it.

Without going on and on, this board thing is simply not preferable to a controller, and may be worse in key ways.  It is difficult to stand on and use, ergonomically it is suspect and occasionally dangerous.  There are novelties to it, certainly - reaching down to cover one of the sensors on the side results in a “grab,” which looks and feels pretty cool.  But now I’ve seen it.  Everything you want to do is now more difficult, and for the price, you can buy two other games.  Which is to say, two good games.  That’s more or less what I’m getting at.  

I imagine that playing the game is very easy for Tony Hawk, a person who makes a living twisting his body with precision while in mid-air.  I would say that mid-air twisting is something I get up to with less frequency.  I might suggest that I invest my leisure hours in videogames quite often, where slight, precise inputs are interpreted by a piece of software as grand gestures.  If this is the embodiment of the franchise going forward, they’ve made the last skating game I have any intention of purchasing from them.

I never actually lost my balance so utterly that I fell on my fucking ass, but the board itself not a stable platform, almost entirely convex on the bottom.  On more than one occasion, in an attempt to demonstrate the full extent of his dominion over the sport, Gabriel spun all the way around and fell.  Injury was the result.  For my part, the time I spent with the device called to mind a newborn foal, unable to find purchase on the wet hay of the birthing stall.  In other words, the experience mirrored exactly our time spent on actual skateboards.  So, in this way, Ride’s simulation of the sport may be called absolute.

(CW)TB out.

the rules of someone else’s game


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