The holidays have arguably come early for armchair disc jockeys, who can scratch along with exclusive musical mash-ups of songs by popular artists in remix simulator “DJ Hero 2.”
Supporting two turntables and a plastic microphone, additional freestyle tricks and an expanded single-player career mode, the sequel to last year’s popular rhythm game also enjoys a healthy co-sign from rapper and actor Common.
“The game is exciting, brings good music to the forefront and captures the real DJ aesthetic,” he says in a recent interview. “I love that two players can go head-to-head, and the freestyle aspect is really cool. … You have a microphone you can sing into and you can scratch at your own pace. When you play it, you feel just like you’re at a party.”
While no substitute for actual spinning Common says it’s a reasonable starting point for beginners looking to immerse themselves in DJ culture.
Even more important than letting players live the dance-floor dream, he says, is that games like this can help introduce modern fans to classic artists.
“People today might not be watching as much TV or listening to music,” he told CNN.
“But even when people aren’t buzzing about a hot new track, they’re still playing these games and hearing our songs. As an artist, everything you do is a brick you have to build on. Getting a song in a video game is a major stepping stone,and way to get introduced to new audiences.”
A fan of classic titles like “Pitfall,” “Donkey Kong Jr.” and “Ms. Pac-Man” before giving the controller a temporary rest, Common also says that motion-sensing video games are making former arcade enthusiasts take notice again.
These so-called “active” games are a great way to grab people’s attention, says common, adding that he’s not surprised they’re such high-tech sensations.
“Music games are making a comeback this year,” he says. “These titles are constantly improving, the music gets more exciting and more people are being attracted to them.” Part of the appeal, he says, is that they fit right into nearly any social setting, especially parties, and are as fun to watch and listen to as actively play.
High-profile releases like “DJ Hero 2″ and recent karaoke outing “Def Jam Rapstar,” show hip-hop finally getting some respect from game makers.
“[The genre] would’ve been much bigger today if we’d had games like this early on.”
He says he secretly yearns to do a “DJ Hero 2″ track with Sade — “You’d have to speed her up or something” — and says he plays the game with producer No I.D. during studio downtime. Should new album “The Believer,” due Spring 2011, get pushed back, you’ll know why.
“No, we don’t plan on any delays,” he says with a laugh.