DJMax Respect Review – Thumb Exercise (PS4)
The DJMax series of rhythm games has made a massive leap onto home consoles with the PlayStation 4 release of DJMax Respect. Featuring over 100 songs from all previously-released entries, plus 40 brand-new tracks to tap to, could this be the best DJMax game ever? Time to find out in our DJMax Respect review.
Easy on the Eyes
Most rhythm games are easy for consoles, even handheld consoles, to process and present without any stuttering. Naturally, the powerful PS4 and PS4 Pro can handle DJMax Respect without issue. Some of the late-game songs have dozens of notes per second, plus accompanying screen effects and text overlays when those notes are hit (or missed). All of this action goes on while a video plays in the background, created by an artist’s interpretation of each song. There’s nary a frame skip to be found, and any missed notes are the result of poor timing by the player.
Games that require precise timing are dependent upon accurate hardware, though. To that end, DJMax Respect offers calibration tools to offset any delay present in the television or receiver that the console is hooked up to. This is a new problem for a series that is generally on portable hardware without such issues, but it appears to be handled just fine. This is a good thing, because once a song’s difficulty is above six stars or so, the number of notes to hit increases dramatically. DJMax Respect has some of the hardest songs ever seen in the genre.
There are a handful of gameplay modes available in DJMax Respect. Arcade allows for players to practice any song, with recordkeeping and unlocks to boot. Freestyle lets two players duke it out on any song, and each player can choose their own difficulty level, ensuring a fun time no matter the skill level. Mission is a single-player campaign, which tasks the player with performing certain feats on a sequence of songs. These tasks can vary from only missing 15 notes throughout the entire set, or activating fever mode twice before the set is done. Songs start out with only four notes, but rapidly progress. This mode will likely represent a decent challenge for all but experts at the series. Finally, an Online mode allows for play against others from around the world. The lobby was sparsely populated during our time with the review, and sadly we were unable to connect to any game, but it appears to play much like the aforementioned Freestyle mode.
Two-Player Can Get Annoying
Two-player couch versus mode is simple to get into, and allows both players to set up their game exactly how they like before a song starts. Execution is a bit sloppy here, though. Whenever a button is pressed by either player, a note is played out whether the note was correct or not. This can result in some distracting noise, especially when one player is on the hard or maximum difficulty level for a song and the other player is on normal. This is where the rhythm genre has evolved due to innovation in games such as Rock Band, which simply doesn’t play a note when missed, instead of blasting out whatever note is pressed.
While fans of the DJMax series may feel right at home in Respect, others who are new to the franchise may not feel the same way. There is no tutorial to speak of, though the mechanics are pretty easy to pick up. Many songs are locked out of the arcade mode, with no indicator to show how to unlock them. Most veterans of the series will know that simply playing what is available will unlock other songs, but again, new players will have no idea this is how things work without experimenting.
Looking at the same notes fall down to the same virtual DJ equipment would get boring quickly. Thankfully, some of the unlocks available as the player progresses is new skins for both. So the notes can rain down onto the screen in a wide array of colors and patterns, including sets from older games in the series. The look of the equipment that represents the player’s gear can be changed as well.
DJMax Respect continues in the series’ tradition of offering a challenging rhythm game that is packed with content. Seeing a lot of classic songs from earlier games on the big screen is sure to please many fans. Still, people who have never tried the franchise will likely feel a bit overwhelmed, because there is not much in the way of help for those who are getting their feet wet in the DJMax series. Progression in the Missions mode will remain slow for those players, unless they have the intuition to practice songs in the arcade mode. DJMax Respect is the culmination of over a decade of rhythm action, and deserves a look for series and genre fans.
DJMax Respect review code provided by publisher. Version 1.00 reviewed on a PS4 Pro. For more information on scoring please see our Review Policy here.