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Video Game / EZ2DJ

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EZ2DJ is a South Korean Rhythm Game franchise that is pretty much to beatmania what Pump It Up is to DanceDanceRevolution. It is very much like the original 5-key Beatmania series (or, more specifically, beatmania III), in terms of overall gameplay and controls, with five piano keys, a turntable (positioned on the outside ends of the decks a la IIDX rather than always being to the right of each player's keys), and a foot pedal. However, there is also a row of four effector buttons at the top center of the control deck: a 7-key mode adds a pair of these buttons to each player's keys. Its hardest songs easily rival those of beatmania IIDX in terms of sheer difficulty. The games are also known for their "Radio Mix" course modes, where the player plays through a set of four songs with charts unique to these courses.

The franchise was originally developed by AmuseWorld — a studio that had also developed a dance game called EZ2Dancer (which combined a three-panel layout with infrared hand sensors similar to Konami's Dance ManiaX). In 2007, Konami won a patent lawsuit over the game due to its strong similarities to Beatmania — forcing AmuseWorld to halt the production of new EZ2DJ hardware. However, updates to its final version, 7th Trax, would continue to be released.

After its eventual staff tested the waters with a Game Mod of 7th Trax known as Azure Expression, a studio known as Square Pixels would subsequently develop new arcade releases under the title EZ2AC - maintaining the existing EZ2DJ cabinets, but refreshing the engine with a more polished user experience and quality of life enhancements, relatively newer PC hardware to replace the Microsoft Windows 98 powered systems used on previous versions, and new songs.

The final arcade version (and the sixth in the EZ2AC continuity), EZ2AC FINAL EX, was released in August 2020. After a few patches, the EZ2AC line was retired.

In the meantime, a studio known as Retro Games developed a now-defunct, online-multiplayer PC port akin to DJMax Online known as EZ2ON. Rather than port the game mechanics from the arcade games wholesale, the EZ2ON series features original charts with 4-, 5-, 6-, and 8-key modes, along with original songs in addition to songs ported from the arcade games. The first edition of EZ2ON, RETRO EZ2ON, was released in 2008 and service was terminated less than a year later in 2009. EZ2ON REBOOT was released in 2013 in an attempt to reboot the game, but service was terminated within the same year. In August 2019, Neonovice acquired the rights to ez2on, and launched a remake known as EZ2ON REBOOT : R on Steam as an Early Access game in March 2021 worldwide, making it the first time an EZ2DJ game was released outside of South Korea. It largely draws from the previous EZ2ON games, some of the new songs from FINAL EX, and licenses from BMS musicians. The first DLC expansion was released in September 2021, based on EZ2AC: Time Traveler, featuring songs from it and its graphical skins. The game exited Early Access on April 14, 2021 for an official release, with day-1 DLC packs released alongside it.

A related game, Sabin Sound Star, features similar gameplay and shares many of the same songs with the EZ2DJ series, with the key difference being that instead of turntables, there are large circular buttons to the side of and above the five main keys. It had two versions, the first one in 2010 and another one, Sabin Sound Star: Renasence Burst in 2012.

Compare DJMAX, another Korean-produced keysounded "DJ simulation" game. Several musicians who produced songs for EZ2DJ also made some for the DJMAX series.

Not to be confused with D4DJ.

Games in the EZ2DJ series:note 

    open/close all folders 

    EZ2DJ and EZ2AC arcade games 
  • EZ2DJ The 1st TRACKS (April 20, 1999)
    • EZ2DJ The 1st TRACKS Special Edition (December 15, 1999)
  • EZ2DJ 2ndTRAX ~It rules once again~ (November 1, 2000)
  • EZ2DJ 3rdTRAX ~Absolute Pitch~ (September 17, 2001)
  • EZ2DJ 4thTRAX ~Over Mind~ (July 28, 2002)
  • EZ2DJ Platinum (September 6, 2003)
  • EZ2DJ 6thTRAX ~Self Evolution~ (August 17, 2004)
  • EZ2DJ 7thTRAX ~Resistance~ (March 14, 2007)
    • EZ2DJ 7thTRAX Ver 1.5 (December 23, 2007)
    • EZ2DJ 7thTRAX Ver 2.0 (March 4, 2008)
    • EZ2DJ 7thTRAX CLASS R ~CODENAME:VIOLET~ (March 30, 2009)
    • EZ2DJ 7thTRAX BONUS EDITION (November 9, 2010)
      • EZ2DJ 7thTRAX BONUS EDITION revision A (February 17, 2011)
  • EZ2DJ: AZURE EXPRESSION (March 8, 2012)
  • EZ2AC: EVOLVE (December 26, 2014)
  • EZ2AC: NIGHT TRAVELER (January 28, 2016)
  • EZ2AC: TIME TRAVELER (August 16, 2017)
  • EZ2AC -FINAL- (May 30, 2019)
    • EZ2AC: FINAL EX (August 7, 2020)

    EZ2ON Windows PC games 
  • RETRO EZ2ON (December 23, 2008 - October 19, 2009)
  • EZ2ON REBOOT (July 16, 2013 - December 30, 2013)
  • EZ2ON REBOOT : R (Steam Early Access: March 17, 2021. Official release: April 14, 2022. Worldwide release.) — This release breaks away from the business model of the first two EZ2ON games, featuring a more conventional model of having a paid base game with over 250 songs available, which includes existing EZ2DJ and EZ2ON songs, new songs made for this game, and licensed BMS songs. DLC contents are listed below:
    • EZ2ON REBOOT : R - TIME TRAVELER (Chapter I: September 29, 2021; Chapter II: May 31, 2022) — 18 songs (11 initial, 6 more with the "Chapter II" update) from and cosmetic items based on TIME TRAVELER.
    • EZ2ON REBOOT : R - CODENAME VIOLET (April 14, 2022) — 10 songs from and cosmetic items based on CODENAME VIOLET. Players who purchased the base game before the maintenance period for the official launch got this DLC set for free, but it can be purchased by those who didn't.
    • EZ2ON REBOOT : R - QUANTUM COMPLEX (April 14, 2022) — Cosmetic items based on FINAL EX. Like with CODENAME VIOLET, this is complimentary for players who bought the base game during Early Access, and paid DLC otherwise.
    • EZ2ON REBOOT : R - PRESTIGE PASS (Chapter I: April 14, 2022; Chapter II, part 1: September 30, 2022; Chapter II, part 2: upcoming) — A DLC pass with 39 new songs (24 initial, 15 more with the "Chapter II" set) and original cosmetic items.
    • O2Jam Collaboration (June 28, 2022) — 20 songs from O2Jam, cosmetic items based on the original game, and a course that uniquely features 7-key charts. Two add-on songs are planned for release: "The Festival of Ghost" in October 2022 and "Christmas Memories" in December 2022.
    • Groove Coaster Collaboration (October 31, 2022)
    • DJMAX Respect V collaboration (upcoming)

EZ2DJ/AC contains examples of:

  • Allegedly Free Game: The first two iterations of EZ2ON operated on a "free-to-play" model, with some songs available for free, but certain songs required paid "DJ Points" every time one wanted to play them. Certain features were locked behind paywalls too. EZ2ON REBOOT : R averts this, requiring one to pay before playing it; while there are DLC packs, there are no money-based restrictions on playing songs once you have access to them.
  • Anti-Trolling Features: In REBOOT : R, the song "Sudden Death" cannot be picked in multiplayer lobbies. For context, the song's gimmick is that all four difficulties have the same relatively simple charts, but with unusually strict timing windows and lifebars that get stricter on higher difficulties, to the point where Hard and Super Hard difficulties are intentionally made to be unwinnable. This prevents players from picking it and causing other players to have an obnoxiously bad multiplayer experience, assuming they don't just leave the lobby entirely.
  • Arrange Mode: In addition to the conventional "push button to hit note" modes, there's also EZ2 Catch where you spin the turntable to try to catch falling fruit, and Turntable where you spin the turntable while hitting the correct notes (similar to Guitar Hero).
  • The Artifact: The artist for "Y Gate" has their name, 이종필, romanized as "Lee Chong Pil" in the song artwork, however later versions of the game romanize it as "Lee Jong-phil" in textual data. This is because when the song was first released for 3rdTRAX in 2000, South Korea was still using McCune-Reischauer romanization, resulting in the former romanization, but shortly afterwards, Revised Romanization became the new official romanization method, leading to the latter romanziation. The song graphics still use the MR romanization.
  • Belated Happy Ending: The BGA for Dement -After Legend- ends with Eric, the male protagonist who was heavily injured, getting trapped inside a collapsing building together with his sister, Elle, as the result of her pretty much decimating Kreutz (who had previously corrupted her mind). In "Utopia", it is revealed that they survive, the fellow protagonists Karl and Nein are finally married together, and also have children.
  • Bowdlerise:
    • An attempted example with "Brain Power". The background video is a Lyric Video, and the word "COCAINE" is writing it as "COXXXXX", making it seem like a line about cocaine is now about penises.
    • The background animation for "You love the life you live ~Remix~", has a scene that features some tribal Black people engaging in cannibalism (more specifically, the scene features a cauldron and the skeletal remains of humans). However during the Early Access period of the globally-released REBOOT : R, which the song is included in, a patch was applied to remove this scene and replace it with a visual of an erupting volcano, so as to avoid the racist implications of the original scene.
  • Capcom Sequel Stagnation 7th Trax really had this, with version 1.5 (11 new songs) and 2.0 (12 new songs, 6 revivals, and 5 removals), Class R - Codename Violet (which added 12 new songs and a purple-themed version of the UI, but removed 60 songs), Bonus Edition (36 new songs, 56 removals, and a ton of bugs), and Bonus Edition Revision A ("BERA" — a follow-up that fixed the aforementioned bugs, and added back many of the songs removed by Codename Violet).
    • EZ2ON REBOOT : R is a remake of ez2on Reboot, an updated client of the original ez2on.
  • Crossover:
    • There have been revivals from o2Jam (specifically "Cross Time" and "Visual Dream"), and there have also been exchanges of crossovers with Pump It Up (such as "Allegro Piu Mosso", "God Mode", "Prime", and "Yog Sothoth" to EZ2AC, and songs such as "Bedlam", "Gothique Resonance", and now "Your Mind" on Pump). "Dement -After Legend-" is also on Pump it Up XX but not officially billed as an EZ2AC song (but is listed in the "Xross" channel as with other songs that have generally appeared on other rhythm games besides Pump — said song is also on the mobile game Arcaea). One of said crossovers is "Prime", a song by Tatsh. What makes this notable is that he used to work with Konami, and was the Beatmania producer for several versions.
    • REBOOT : R features a couple of collaborations with other rhythm games:
      • O2Jam Collaboration, which features 22 songs from and cosmetic items based on that game, and two courses that have the game's only 7-key charts.
      • Groove Coaster Collaboration, which features 8 songs from that series.
  • Darker and Edgier: The UI of EZ2AC Evolve does have a noticeably darker, futuristic look than past versions.
    • 7th Trax Bonus Edition has a mechanized appearance and lots of red, silver, and black. It looks a lot edgier than the original release, which had a largely gold and yellow interface.
  • Distracted by the Sexy: Exploited. In the BGA of Blue, Gloria, the police woman show her sex appeal in order to distract the escaped bad guy, so she able to take a knockout chance towards him and sent him back to jail.
  • Double Play: The game features this in two flavors. There is 10K mode, which uses both sets of the 5 main keys and turnable, as well as either foot pedal, as well as 14K mode, which also uses the 4 effector buttons but does not use pedals. The CODENAME VIOLET modes in the EZ2AC games also have Andromeda mode which is 14K except it also uses the pedals.
  • Downer Ending:

  • Embedded Precursor: 6thTRAX features a gameplay mode called "Remember 1st?", which loads up The 1st TRACKS. As in, the game hardware exits to Windows to launch a separate executable.
  • Enemy Mine: In "Kings", the chainsaw-wielding human starts off fighting the demonic humanoid in what seems to be an effort to rescue a Distressed Damsel. However, while they're fighting, a giant monster takes the girl captive, causing the human and the demon to team up to fight it...only to get knocked out instantly. However the girl suddenly activates some sort of latent power and destroys the monster with a machinegun, saving both of them.
  • Fake Difficulty: The arcade versions' timing windows are actually pixel-based rather than time-based, meaning that faster songs have more difficult timing windows. REBOOT : R uses millisecond-based timing instead, but the arcade version judgement is used for some higher-difficulty courses, called "X" judgement.
  • Gaiden Game: EZ2ON features a lot of the same trademarks and songs of the arcade games, but features different control schemes that use the home position keysnote  rather than trying to replicate the arcade controls, and different charts as a result.
  • Gimmick Level:
  • Harder Than Hard: The game may have "EZ" in its title, but much like its Japanese counterpart, it is nowhere near easy at its hardest levels. If a song's SHD difficulty is simply a skull and crossbones, you know you're in for a good time.
  • Idiosyncratic Difficulty Levels: The EZ2DJ era was full of these, such as "Ruby Mix" (easy), "Street Mix", "Radio Mix", "Club Mix", etc. EZ2AC cleaned up most of these in favor of more typical style names (i.e. 5K, 7K, 5K Only, 10K, 14K).
  • Minigame Credits:
    • "An Old Story" (7th Trax), "White Out" (Evolve), "The Moments" (NT), and "#BEYOND" (TT) contain the credits rolls for their respective versions as their BGAs. Oddly, the last two were not even added to the game during their respective lifecycles, but in surprise 2020 patches to NT and TT released shortly before Final EX.
    • "An Old Story" had its BGA replaced with a generic video on later versions of 7th, but got a new video when revived on Final, which similarly featured a medley of generic videos, and an ending featuring a "then and now" mix of photos of an EZ2DJ 7th Trax cabinet, and one refurbished with EZ2AC artwork.
  • Mood Dissonance: In the background animation of Common Story in EZ2ON, people are having a club dance party underwater using Artificial Gill gear, right after their airplane crashes into the sea. Some dead bodies of unlucky passengers floating on the sea are shown at the end, making it more dissonant.
  • Mythology Gag:
    • The "get/ready/start" sounder is taken from the intro of the 1st Tracks song "The Rhythm"
    • The circle note option uses sprites originating from ez2Dancer, particularly from the hand sensor notes.
    • Codename Violet modes have been present as a secret mode since Night Traveler ("2.0", becoming "2.5" on Time Traveler and Final), housing hidden charts, and even using the old gameplay interface and results screens from said version.
  • Nintendo Hard:
    • The 7-key modes are naturally trickier due to the design of the deck, the effector keys are diagonally above the main piano keys (much like IIDX cabinets, the turntables are on opposing sides). This is without getting into Double Play modes that require the use of all 10 main keys, all 4 effector keys, and both turntables! (Though the 14-key mode takes the foot pedal out of the equation entirely, at least.) Beyond that, scoring is no joke, as to get a Kool (the best possible judgement), you have to be within 1/32 of a measure, which translates to about a 10-18 millisecond window, with that window getting smaller at higher speeds.
    • EZ2ON may not have the complex controls of its arcade counterpart, but it still has very complex charts at its highest levels, and it still has relatively strict timing windows when playing in Standard mode, but at least they're no longer BPM-based (23 milliseconds for a Kool, to be exact; for reference, in most rhythm games, the window for the highest possible note rating is about 33-35 milliseconds).
  • No Fair Cheating:
    • In REBOOT : R, pausing and resuming a song in Standard mode will break your combo and you won't be able to save replays. If you still clear the song without missing any notes, you won't get All Combo status, but instead No Miss. This is to prevent players from Pause Scumming their way to an All Combo.
    • One of the chart modification settings is Anti-Roll Random, a variant of Super Random (which changes the column of each note) that tries to minimize "jackhammer" (multiple notes in the same column in succession). As stated in the descrption for the mod, any scores achieved with it won't count.
  • Nostalgia Level: In REBOOT : R's O2Jam Collaboration, every 7-key chart from the two collab courses is lifted straight from O2Jam itself.
  • Retraux:
    • Various gameplay UI themes from older versions are accessible as options on current iterations.
    • REBOOT : R also has UI themes based on Codename Violet, Time Traveler, and Final EX ("Quantum Complex"), although this mainly effects the main menu, sound effects, and menu music
  • Scoring Points: The series has had multiple scoring systems over the years:
    • Most of the earlier games use a scoring system in which KOOL is worth 170 points, COOL is worth 100 points, and GOOD is worth 40 points. There's also a combo multiplier that's...weirdly calculated, involving logarithms. This is the same scoring system used in "All Combo Challenge" courses in REBOOT : R.
    • Starting in EZ2AC Evolve, a KOOL is worth 300 points, a COOL is worth 150, and a GOOD is worth 40; no combo-based bonuses. Time Traveler and later slightly revise this to make a GOOD worth 41 points, likely to make it easier to distinguish an All COOL run in progress. The Time Traveler variant is also used in courses in REBOOT : R, except for All Combo Challenge courses.
    • In REBOOT : R, the maximum score on a song is 1100000 points plus the number of notes (for example, the max score for a chart with 1024 notes would be 1101024). Scoring is mostly accuracy-based, with the first 1100000 points coming from note accuracy; at the end of the song you get a bonus equal to the highest combo you achieved in the song. Your score is also expressed as a "Rate" percentage with two decimal places, simply being the percentage of your score out of the max possible, although grades are based on fixed score thresholds instead of Rate thresholds.
  • Sequel Song:
    • "20000000000" to "Mystic Dream 9903". The former is subtitled as the latter in song graphics and its video reuses the latter song's visuals, alluding to it with the text "REMEMBER THIS?" at the start of the song.
    • "MAX 301" by Naoki, a sequel to "MAX 300" from DanceDanceRevolution (as well as "MAX428" from SEVEN's CODE and StepManiaX).
  • Series Fauxnale: Final appeared to be the final EZ2AC game, but then Final EX was released a year later.
  • Theme Naming: The original EZ2DJ games were titled as Nth Trax (with the first being subtitled "The 1st Tracks"), with some of them having taglines such as "It Rules Once Again", "Resistance", and "Self Evolution". The 5th version was titled Platinum instead. EZ2AC has gone in a more IIDX-like direction for its themes, with "Endless Circulation" (referring to the Continuity Reboot), "Evolve" (a dark and futuristic, steel and magenta-colored motif), "Night Traveler" (which has a nightlife/city theme), and "Time Traveler" (a futuristic green and silver design). The most recent version is simply titled "Final".
  • Unexpected Gameplay Change:
    • Catch mode, where you use the turntable to control a bowl to collect fruit.
    • Turntable is a 5-key style where you have to "strum" the turntable for every note (think Guitar Freaks, Guitar Hero)
  • Unlockable Content: Virtually nonexistent in REBOOT : R, which is notable as many rhythm games have some form of song-unlocking system. Purchasing the base game gives you access to all of its songs, all of their charts, all courses, and all cosmetic options without any further preconditions; likewise when purchasing DLC content. The closest there is to unlock would be the background animations; to unlock a song's BGA for viewing in Lounge mode, you have to clear any one chart of the song first. Even then, there's nothing gameplay-wise that has to be unlocked by doing something else first.
  • Unwinnable Joke Game: In REBOOT : R, all of the HD and SHD charts for "Sudden Death" are humanly impossible, due to their extremely tight timing windows and lifebars (to the point where just missing two notes will fail the song); there are zero entries on their online leaderboards (scores will only be submitted if they are clears). The developers admitted in a stream that the point of these charts' leaderboards is to catch cheaters.
  • Xtreme Kool Letterz: There's the second-to-best note accuracy rank, "Cool", and then there's the highest possible rank, "KOOL!" (usually pronounced "k-cool").
  • Writing Around Trademarks: Due to a Konami patent, the judgement line/shadows in REBOOT : R slightly bobs up and down.