I miss DJ Hero so, so much. Guitar Hero was a huge hit all over the world and plenty of people played it, but Activision’s rhythm spin on the life of a DJ didn’t get nearly the same amount of love. I’ve got a cherished memory of going to a college Halloween party and seeing a lonely DJ Hero 2 set-up in the basement next to a dusty CRT. I sat down, cross-legged, and proceeded to play the game in a hazy 2 AM daze while I was decked out in a Wario costume and my friend enthusiastically held a mic to my face so I could rap all the parts to American Boy. I love DJ Hero a LOT. All of that is to say, when I encountered Spin Rhythm XD on the show floor at PAX East, a primal feeling bubbled up from within me as I got to experience the disc-scratching, beat-slapping joy that I haven’t felt in years.
Spin Rhythm XD is going to be coming to Nintendo Switch, sporting motion controls and touch-screen support. At PAX East, though, developer Super Spin Digital showed off the game in a very different way. They had the currently available Steam Early Access version of the game running, with players controlling the game not via keyboard & mouse or Xbox controller, but with a full professional MIDI DJ board. Small red and blue notes pour down the chart, and at the bottom sits a wheel made up of blue and red sections. As you spin the real-life turntable, your wheel spins in-game. Match the small notes with their respective color, but don’t worry about pressing any buttons; you only need to tap on the right-hand spinner when large notes arrive, or tap on the left-hand spinner when green beat-bars arrive.
My first time playing the game, I enthusiastically asked them to set it to Hard. I had only watched others play it for a few minutes, but I wanted to dive straight into a challenge. As soon as I got my hands on that DJ controller, though, I knew there was no risk of challenge; my DJ Hero muscle memory kicked in almost immediately, and I felt myself enter the zone as I slowly spun the plate to match notes and enthusiastically over-spun it during special spin sections. I was in the groove, and my short 3 minute session with the first song felt like an eternity of bliss.
It’s hard to imagine finding the same joy in the game using any other control method, but there are many. The current PC release of Spin Rhythm XD supports keyboard & mouse, standard controllers, and a wide variety of MIDI DJ controllers. While there isn’t any kind of peripheral support planned for the Nintendo Switch version, motion-control is supposed to be incredibly accurate and super fun.
Spin Rhythm XD is just magical. Rhythm games are so much more special when they’re played with a wild and unique controller, and DJ turntables are undoubtedly my favorite kind. I’m incredibly excited to see where this game goes as development continues, and I can’t wait to buy a DJ controller of my own and keep playing at home.