Review: DJMax Technika Tune for PS Vita

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Title: DJMax Technika Tune
Price: $44.99 as a download, $49.99 on a cartridge
System(s): Vita
Release Date: December 4, 2012
Publisher (Developer): Pentavision Global (Pentavision and Neowiz Mobile)
ESRB Rating: “Teen” for Blood, Fantasy Violence, Mild Lyrics, Partial Nudity and Sexual Themes

I’m cheating on Hatsune Miku: Project Diva f. When I imported it for my Vita back in August, I swore that it would be my go-to music game. We’d have good times together. It would never never leave the Vita cartridge slot. It would be an affair to remember.

Then I heard DJMax Technika Tune, the portable version of the DJMax Technika arcade game with which I exchange longing glances whenever I visit GameWorks. It doesn’t accept time cards and I only acquire the unlimited Thursday time cards, so our love was not to be. But DJMax Technika Tune doesn’t have that barrier. One investment and it is yours forever.

Now, my heart is torn. Both games are utterly fantastic and I can’t decide which I prefer. I suppose I’ll just have to go ahead and crown DJMax Technika Tune the Vita music game king and Hatsune Miku: Project Diva f the queen.

Pop a bubble, hear a sound

DJMax Technika Tune is musical bubble wrap. Players choose a song from a surprisingly diverse and infectious library of music and tap notes in time with it, receiving both experience, points and rewards for their performance. Once a song is chosen, players are taken to a divided screen. A bar scrolls from left to right on the top half, then goes from right to left on the bottom. As the indicator scrolls, different kinds of circular notes will appear on the upper and lower halves of the screen, like happy little bubbles. Popping each one produces another note in the song. You tap Notes, slide across Hold Notes and Chain Drag Notes, repeatedly tap when you see a Repeat Note, repeatedly tap and hole when you see a Repeat Long Note and tap the rear touch pad when Rear Notes appear.

That may sound simple, but taking action is harder than it seems. There are two set difficulty levels in the options menu, and the Arcade mode of the game is divided into Star Mixing, Pop Mixing, Club Mixing and Freestyle challenges, with Star Mixing being the easiest with little challenge and three songs in one challenge and Club Mixing being most taxing with the highest difficulty level and four songs to complete in a row. Freestyle is where you go when you just want to play one song. Do well as you play and you’ll level up, unlocking extras like images, DJ icons that provide a power-up during play, Freestyle songs and more. You can view these extra images, which would make great Vita wallpapers, or see various gameplay statistics at any time in the Collections section.

DJMax Technika Tune: Perfect portable music game that doesn’t travel well

DJMax Technika Tune is a sublime experience, with a near-perfect gameplay formula. A song plays, you tap notes and you earn points and experience for hitting the right ones. Build up enough of a combo, and you can even tap a Fever button to earn additional points. The game plays beautifully and song patterns are well organized so players are never randomly tapping in multiple directions. There’s a flow to all things and once you recognize it, you can work towards mastering it and becoming a better player.

Most importantly, DJMax Technika Tune is responsive. I never had an issue with note recognition, which is crucial in a game where inaccuracy is sharply penalized. The only time I did have a problem was when I first began playing and attempting to trigger Hold Notes. However, that was my own fault. I didn’t realize you had to release the note just before it reached the end, rather than hold on until the indicator reached the very end of the path.

Outside of actually playing the game, I really relished DJMax Technika Tune‘s Album. There are 66 songs in DJMax Technika Tune, most of them classics returning from previous DJMax games, and I can say that it’s practically a greatest hits games. Some of the best DJMax songs are in hear and they’re fantastic. The Album section lets players listen to the song snippets at any time or watch the music videos without having to worry about hitting notes. You can just enjoy them. Watching them reminds me how much I enjoy watching videos on the Vita with its gorgeous OLED screen. It’s a great reward and way to kick back after going through a few Star Mixing, Pop Mixing or Club Mixing rounds.

Still, DJMax Technika Tune does hit a few foul notes. I’d say the major downside is that it’s a portable game that isn’t very portable. If you choose Star Mixing, I could see playing on the go. Players don’t always need both hands ready to tap on the touch screen so one hand can hold the Vita while the other hits the notes. With every other mode, this becomes impossible. Pop Mixing, Club Mixing and Freestyle are much more demanding, almost always requiring two hands tapping and swiping the playing field at once. I found the idea situation was to sit at a desk or table, place the Vita on it and have my hands ready to catch those notes.

This is exacerbated by the Vita-exclusive Rear Notes. There’s nothing like frantically moving to hit a Rear Note while having your other hand ready to hit a regular Note or perhaps Repeat Long Note. If you have a Vita handstrap, wear it while playing DJMax Technika Tune. If you don’t, there could be fumbles.

I can actually imagine one more issue, but I wasn’t affected by it. I could see people with big hands having a tough time playing DJMax Technika Tune. Their fingers could get in the way while playing, blocking notes as they’re hitting others. I’m sure they could learn to work around it and it’s something that may even cause initial problems for those unused to the DJMax Technika Tune formula. You learn to adjust though, so I wouldn’t call this a dealbreaker.

“Feel Ma Beat”

Don’t let the fact that DJMax Technika Tune is best played on a flat surface dissuade you from picking up this sublime music game. Not only is its music infectious, but its novel control scheme and slick videos make this another quality addition to the Vita game lineup. DJMax Technika Tune may not be a system seller, but it’s well worth the price of purchase and its existance helps make this handheld more relevant.

Site [DJMax Technika Tune]

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  • Pantsu

    If you are referring to the game works in Seattle, the technika machine there accepts time cards now. Just thought I’d let you know.

    • Jenni Lada

      Nope. I was referring to the one in Schaumburg. Thanks for letting us know though!