A spin-off of the Guitar Hero series by Activision, developed by FreeStyleGames, DJ Hero is a large variation on the usual instrument-peripheral-rhythm-game-genre, in which instead of a representation of a conventionally popular instrument like a guitar, bass, or drums, you use a turntable peripheral. The difference comes from that while you do press buttons alongside on-screen prompts to interpret a song (albeit with two fewer buttons), some notes require you to hold down the button and "scratch" the turntable. In addition, you also have to adjust your crossfader bar to match the note highways on screen.
The soundtrack of the series consists of remixes/mashups of various songs produced both in-house by the developers, or by the several artists brought into the project, including and not limited to Grandmaster Flash, the late DJ AM, deadmau5, Tiësto, and RZA of Wu-Tang Clan fame.
The original game was released on October 27, 2009 for Play Station 2, Play Station 3, Xbox 360, and Wii. DJ Hero 2 was released less than a year later, on October 19, 2010, for the same consoles minus the PS2.
Bears slight conceptual similarity to the beatmania series.
In February 2011, DJ Hero, alongside its parent series Guitar Hero, has been given the axe by Activision. In 2015, FreeStyleGames had been put to work on Guitar Hero Live, but a third DJ Hero game looks unlikely...
This game provides examples of:
- And Your Reward Is Clothes: Along with other DJs, turntables and skins for the turntables (only in the first game). Less cosmetically, you also unlock new setlists and a few encore songs.
- Anti-Frustration Features:
- The crossfader does not literally have to be in the center to count as being "centered." Anything not pushed directly to the left or right is considered centered. When you're constantly having to switch crossfades on some of harder songs, this is a blessing.
- When activating Rewind, crossfading is ignored for several seconds, allowing you to adjust the crossfader in case it was set to a different position that what is currently is after rewinding.
- As Himself: Multiple DJs make appearances as bosses and playable avatars. In the first game, we have DJ Shadow, DJ AM, Z-Trip, Grandmaster Flash, DJ Jazzy Jeff and Daft Punk. In the second game, there's David Guetta, deadmau5, Tiësto, RZA and DJ Qbert.
- Bowdlerise: Being a T-rated game, it was inevitable some of the harsher lyrics would become censored.
- Cooperative Multiplayer: Two players can team up and play with two turntables, a turntable and a guitar in the first game, and with vocals in the second.
- Crossover: A remix of "Bring the Noise" featuring Zakk Wylde, appeared in both DJ Hero 1 as a DJ/guitar mix in addition to appearing in Guitar Hero 5 when it released several days later.
- Downloadable Content: Purchased by the bunch (Xbox 360 and PS3) or separately (Wii), averaging to about three mixes per setlist throughout the course of the series. It's also extremely expensive, at $7.99 for three songs. With how difficult it is to compose unique mashups compared to just getting the rights for songs and charting them as in Guitar Hero, though, it's justified.
- Dual Boss: Not exactly a boss, but true to life, we have Daft Punk. Notably, they have their own unique deck and even have a stage modeled after their own pyramid set.
- Final-Exam Boss: In both games.
- While not a final boss per se, the "Groundhog" beat juggle is undoubtedly the hardest mix in the first game, and manages to test all the skills you've learned by gradually escalating the number of things you need to do at once.
- "Human After All" in DJ Hero 2 is the last mix and, like "Groundhog", slowly but steadily adds more actions the player needs to perform at once. Not nearly the hardest mix in the game, though.
- Genre Roulette: The first game had primarily a mixture of hip-hop and rock music, with some electronic, dance, and pop thrown in occasionally. Meanwhile, the second has a more diverse soundtrack, consisting of more electronic and dance/pop music with less rock.
- Glowing Eyes of Doom: DJ Shadow's upper face is shadowed by his hoodie, with glowing eyes prominently appearing through the darkness.
- I Shall Taunt You/Trash Talk: During the "Groundhog" beat juggle by Scratch Perverts, a posh British-accented man will try to goad the player into giving up, saying the mix is far too difficult for anyone to perform.
- Life Meter: Completely Missing In Action! Now you can play without worrying about failing out and still have your score saved. Instead, you'll have to score a certain number of stars from each song to progress, focusing more on being good at the game than just surviving.
- Limit Break: "Euphoria", a score multiplier functionally identical to Guitar Hero's Star Power (in addition to automatically handling crossfading, which can be handy during tricky sections), and Rewind, which allows you to rewind to an earlier point in the song. The replayed section will be given double points while you play it.
- Product Placement: As in Guitar Hero, there's quite a bit. Beats by Dre, Sprite in the first game and Coca-Cola in the second, Puma, various types of DJ equipment....
- Robotic Reveal: deadmau5's giant mouse head is his head here. When he's shown putting it on, he just has a neck stump with some wires sticking out of it.
- Sampling: Being based around DJing, this is actually one of the features of the game. In the first game only, you can tap the red button during certain freestyle sections to play from one of several samples chosen before you begin the song
- Serious Business: During his mix of "Rockit" by Herbie Hancock and "Lapdance" by N.E.R.D., Grandmaster Flash yells this.This is serious business!
- Stealth Pun: DJ Hero 2 can be bought as part of a bundle that includes two turntable controllers and a microphone peripheral. Fans of the artist Beck may be familiar with phrase "two turntables and a microphone" (sadly Beck doesn't appear in this game in any form).
- Third Is 3D: DJ Hero 3D. It is not the third main series game, though, but rather an installment for the Nintendo 3DS. Cancelled, along with the rest of the series.
- Time Travel: Both games allow for spinning the DJ disc backwards to rewind the song a number of measures. There are some mechanical differences between the games, however:
- In the first game, you can either rewind one measure (360˚) or two measures (720˚) depending on how many revolutions you spin the disc backwards. This feature was not available on any mode involving two players.
- In the second game, rewinds take you to the previous section or the beginning of the current sections, shown by "rewind markers" that pass by. There is a power deck that can take you back two sections. Rewinding is possible in two player modes at least.
- Title Drop: A few times in the first game, but special mention goes to the mashup of Foreigner's "Juke Box Hero" and Z-Trip and MURS' "DJ Hero".
- Unexpected Gameplay Change:
- Being able to play with the guitar on select songs in the first game, and being able to sing a large amount of mixes from the second.
- Not quite a gameplay change, but as the vast majority of the mixes in the game are mash-ups, the beat juggles where you play only a single (remixed) song can be a bit surprising. Functionally, they play the same as regular mixes, though.
- Wolverine Publicity: The "Renegade Edition" of the first game was presented as being a Jay-Z/Eminem edition, with their names prominently on the box and containing a CD of their music. In-game, Eminem's "My Name Is" appears in two mixes (one with Jay-Z), while Jay-Z has an entire setlist with his music. A DLC pack was later released consisting of three mashups between the two.