DJing Gets a Truly Great, Authentic Video Game Adaptation with 'Fuser'

The era of the music game’s mainstream popularity might seem firmly in the past—junkyards and pawn shops across America are littered with Guitar Hero controllers and Rock Band drumsets. But this month, Harmonix—the developer of the first two Guitar Hero games, the Rock Band franchise, and a litany of other rhythm games—takes another crack at the genre with Fuser, in which players take on the role of a DJ at a music festival and attempt to win over the crowd with new combinations of old songs.


This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at https://www.vice.com/en_us/article/z3v4qw/fuser-review
2 Likes

Something being overlooked with the comparison to DJ Hero is how that game’s focus wasn’t just on layering threads together to create interesting results like in Fuser, but mechanically conveying the underappreciated art of turntablism.

7 Likes

I wish this game had a cheaper barrier to entry because I want to try it but even with a good amount of disposal income I cannot justify $60 on something I might completely bounce off of. I liked messing with Sonic Pi for a month but never got super hooked. Give me something like a $20 starter edition that gets me only one genre of song and freeplay or something so I can try it out before putting more in.

Fingers crossed for GamePass in the future!

I’ve actually been replaying the DJ Hero games recently (and all the Guitar Hero/Rock Band games for nostalgia purposes) and I think that distinction is important here. DJ Hero is a great game in that, it’s not really about being a DJ and layering music together like Fuser seems to be, but it’s way more focused on highlighting the turntables as an instrument. DJ Hero 2 has some more ways to freestyle, and is a lot more successful than the first one in terms of making you feel like you’re actually contributing to the mix, but I think the game’s main focus is showing that DJs aren’t just pushing buttons and twiddling knobs, and are actually doing some complicated things on the turntables.
This review seems to suggest there wasn’t much to DJ Hero, but especially in later levels, the complexity of crossfading and scratching, while also hitting samples and balancing the bass/treble gets really tricky and interesting. This was a great review otherwise, but I will be the DJ Hero defender until I die.

3 Likes

Hi, new best friend! I’m happy to see other DJ Hero fans in this forum, I feel like it’s not often we get a chance to bring it up in conversation lol.

I agree with you and @miscu both, DJ Hero (in my eyes) was absolutely about highlighting the turntables as an instrument; something requiring technique and skill to really bring out its potential. Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love a lot of the per-built mashups, but to me, the main draw was the performance aspcet; the physicality of manipulating the turntable and crossfader on that peripheral controller. In fact, after years and years and years of playing the DJ Hero series, I finally decided to pick up an entry-level DJ controller (a Pioneer DDJ-SB3) to try my hand at (bedroom) DJing and turntablism. And after watching a bunch of videos, once I put my own hands on the decks, one of the things that immediately struck me was how surprisingly similar doing techniques like a baby scratch, tear, or transformer scratch on the DDJ-SB3 felt to doing some of the scratch patterns you’d see in an expert difficulty DJ Hero chart.

All that said, I don’t wanna take away from the Fuser review. I did enjoy reading it, and I’m now way more tempted to pick it up. Maybe I can transfer over some of that game knowledge/skill into my irl DJing practice, we’ll see :sweat_smile:

P.S. if you or miscu happen to play on PS3 (I think it’s still a crime DJ Hero never got a chance at a next-gen revival like Guitar Hero and Rock Band), feel free to hit me up for some multiplayer, assuming the servers are still up! I’m BlueBl1zzard on PSN

2 Likes

I picked this up after watching Jan and Vinny from Giant Bomb play it. I know Vinny’s mentioned having some DJing experience and the breadth of Jan’s skillset is basically a GB meme at this point so I can see him having some too (the dude just dropped randomly that he learned to drift at an airfield once? Anyway) and they made it look pretty easy. It’s not. It’s very hard but in an extremely creatively fulfilling way that I didn’t fully expect? I suspect like any rhythm game, theres a pretty extreme level of abstraction to the actual actions you’re performing. I can’t really tell you since I’ve never DJed before, but this might be the first rhythm game I’ve played that doesn’t abstract the feeling of a creative process and I think it’s brilliant. Layering samples and effects and coming out saying “I made this and it actually sounds good” is pretty amazing even if it’s hard to keep everything in your head for someone with no experience.

I just wish there was an in game way to record your sets.

Edit: Theres absolutely an easy way to record sets, i just missed it. Theres a lot of things to keep track of in this game!

5 Likes

Great game, great review. I bought the VIP launch package for $99 after seeing this cursed mix:

Something I haven’t seen ben touched on a lot is the ability to make your own loops using in-game instruments with sort of a Launchpad interface. I was floored when I got to that part. The campaign does a beautiful job of introducing new mechanics to you one stage at a time, opening new possibilities with mutes, effects, rises, and a bunch more.

Though, like @Wazanator said, the barrier of entry re:price is a bit of a problem. I have the launch edition and I check every weekend to see if I want to purchase some individual songs. It’ll definitely add up, but putting Mask Off over All Star is worth it imo.