All of my appointments on my final day at gamescom 2009 were with Activision, and although my body was shattered from several days of lugging the heavy camera rig around from video interview to video interview, my spirit remained unbroken. The DJ Hero booth was by far the darkest, hottest and most cramped of any I had been in, but nonetheless I was determined to have a good go on it this time.
A quick show of hands revealed that most of the journalists in the demo room had tried a level or two on DJ Hero - there was a demo stand in Activision's press area that gave passers by the chance to have a quick blast with the funky peripheral. Initially a little apprehensive of embarrassing myself not two minutes after walking into the room, I let one of the other journalists have the first go. The song: Tears For Fears' Shout mixed with Eric Prydz's Pjanoo. He nails the mix, on hard difficulty no less. Time to swallow my pride and step up.
Let it be said straight off the bat that I am not a DJ and I have only once or twice even tried to use vinyl decks. In fact I can only think of a handful of people that have even shown any interest in DJing, something that I have always considered to be a potential Achilles heel for this title. Nonetheless I was familiar with the concept, and with the E3 preview still fresh in my mind I felt reasonably confident that a spark of rhythm would ignite my inner mix master.
For me it was going to be Jackson 5 - I Want You Back vs. Jay-Z - Izzo, a funky, albeit slightly more forgiving mix that I would be dipping my toe in with. With the guitar hero controller it was always glaringly obvious how to grasp the plastic instrument; right hand on the strum switch, left hand on the buttons. So before the song began, my hands defaulted to finding that comfortable position that the pros seemed to find so naturally. The thing with the DJ Hero controller is that there are a lot more fiddly buttons, knobs and sliders than all the other Hero peripherals put together. The three coloured buttons that represent the highway tracks are on a full 360 rotating turn table, while the left hand chooses between the cross fader, the euphoria button and the effects dial.
After a quick 30 second schooling on my grip, DJ Hero began to make a bit more sense. On the right hand your index, middle and ring fingers rest on the buttons respectively from left to right. Most importantly, your right thumb needs to rest on the edge of the turn table so that as you scratch the buttons don't simply fly out from under your finger tips, a lesson I should have paid more attention to. Your left hand sits predominantly over the cross fader, moving up only to change effects styles and hit the euphoria button on occasion. The song begins.