The latest Harmonix is ââunlikely to have that widespread Guitar Hero appeal, but playing it has the same sense of magic.
Let there be no doubt: Harmonix is ââthe master of the musical game. Guitar Hero’s early tracks and the escalation that was Rock Band were pretty solid proof of that, but now comes Fuser unit: a brilliant DJ game that draws on the company’s projects outside of traditional video games.
Dedicated Harmonix enthusiasts will be familiar with DropMix, the music mixing card game that the developer created in tandem with toy giant Hasbro. DropMix took advantage of the craze for toys accompanied by an application that can activate features via near-field communication. It was a deck of cards, with each card containing part of a piece of music, such as vocals, basslines, or drums. You would be playing the cards on a surface and the app would intelligently mix and match these elements to let you create your own musical mixes.
Fuser is essentially that, but in the form of a video game. You put together a ‘deck’ of a bunch of famous music tracks, then you can choose to play one of four different ‘lines’ of that track, mixing and matching up to four different tracks to match. create new mixes.
The sections of each track generally correspond to percussion, bass, melody, and vocals, and the game’s total playlist grows to 100, with the promise of a virtually endless stream of DLC to come if the game is successful. .
It’s kind of a different DJ simulator than what we’ve seen in the past. DJ Hero featured preset mixes created by talented DJs, and the player simply mimed along a plastic deck to show a high score. There’s not a big chunk of plastic in sight here, but instead you feel a different kind of awesome as the mixes come together only from your own intuition, choices, and imagination.
In this, Fuser is a more realistic DJ experience. You can throw four discs without much time or thought, but it’ll probably sound like a muddled mess at best and nails on a board at worst. However, when you think carefully about your song, instrument, and timing choices, you can create a harmonious sound that’s just great – and because you’re creating it yourself rather than just mimicking, it’s especially brilliant. .
Of course, you don’t really create these mixes entirely on your own, and this is where Fuser and what Harmonix has built here are most impressive. Granted, there is a bit of cheating going on; The concept of the game here is so similar to DropMix that a lot of the same technology is surely reused, but that doesn’t make it any less impressive.
Behind the scenes, there’s a huge amount of stuff going on to make sure your mix sounds right: tempo warping, pitch shifting, auto-tuning – whatever is needed to make things harmonize as best as possible. Sometimes, the best they can, it’s still terrible, but at this point it’s up to you to make a difference. The important thing is that these automated systems can create incredible and realistic mixes from these hundreds of possible tracks.
Fuser comes with a lightly narrative career mode that lets you test and improve your skills as a DJ in different venues and events. There are fun little character thumbnails here – unique promoters who will ask you different things, encouraging you to mix up the songs and techniques you use on stage. With this, more in-depth mechanics are also introduced, just like currency that can be earned and used to unlock more songs and character customization.
The story is quite fun and engaging, with fun characters and neat little cutscenes. The tasks it sets sometimes make you feel like they distract from the specific mix you might be envisioning in your head, but they do a great job of introducing various game mechanics. After learning new tricks, you can take them forward into future levels or into the freestyle mix, that’s where I think this game will find its future: in actual creation.
I’m in the early stages of Fuser, having been more than a little distracted from the task of reviewing next-gen consoles, but I can already feel the urge to buy more DLC when it comes out. launch. The nature of the game also means that I approach its music in a different way: in Rock Band, I buy a DLC title if I like the song. Here, I’ll be tempted to buy just about anything if it has an interesting lick that I think I can fit into a mix.
That’s the beauty of what Harmonix has created here. Usually, these musical games offer the thrill of a stage appearance fantasy, but none of the substance. Fuser still delivers those euphoric highs, but also lets you really create something – and it’s unique.
The crown of the Harmonix musical set remains in place. Fuser seems to be excellent – which is great. Hopefully, but can we also get a new generation reissue of Rock Band 4 and its instruments?