I’d like to think that I can hold my own on medium difficulty in most rhythm games. With that in mind, I started to play DJ Max Fever on the PSP on the 5 button difficulty instead of the default 4 button difficulty. I wish I could have captured my first song on video because I was pathetically bad. This is why I’d like to present to you “The Beginner’s Guide to DJ Max Fever” written by a Beginner (me).
When first starting out with DJ Max Fever, put your pride aside and pick 4 button mode. While you’re at it, pick a Level 1 or 2 song. If not, you’ll be sorry when all those notes come flying at you and you have no idea what buttons to press.
It took me half a song to figure out what buttons corresponded to what notes. In 4 button mode, from the left-most note to the right, the buttons are: Left on the dpad, Up on the dpad, Triangle, and Circle. 5-button mode is almost the same except that the center note can be activated by Right on the dpad or Square — convenient when one hand is busy pressing buttons but the other one is not.
The music selection in DJ Max Fever ranges from slow ballads to fast oh-my-god-help songs. It’s easiest to start off with moderately fast song with a catchy beat. Sure, you’ll miss a lot of notes to begin with, but when you hit the right notes, boy is it satisfying. I find medium-speed songs to be easier to play than slow songs because I can never keep my rhythm in slow songs. If a song is too fast, hit the Left trigger to slow it down.
Once you can hit a few notes, you’ll notice a fever gauge in the middle of the screen. Once that is full, you’ll see a reminder to activate Fever Mode. Activate it as soon as you can by pressing X. I try to time it so that I press X on the beat of the music just so I don’t throw myself off. Fever mode doubles your combo and score.
Songs are fast and there are up to 8 buttons to press, which makes DJ Max one of the harder rhythm games out there. However, one thing that makes the game easier is that even if you’re sloppy with your timing, the note still makes a sound. Unlike in Rock Band, where you just get a messed-up note if you’re not exact, you can still hear the button you pressed. This helps because while you play, you can still hear what the song is supposed to sound like despite the notes being off rhythm.
In addition to the feeling of accomplishment you get from completing a song, you also win in-game gold, which is useful for buying different displays, notes, and even characters. While it’s tempting to change to some fancy type of note, it’s easier to just stick with the basic looking notes because it’s not worth trying to get used to a different looking note after playing the default one for so long.
For faster and harder songs, don’t be afraid to slow down the speed by pressing the L trigger. It’s better to get the button combos down first and the speed it up to normal after you get used to it.
DJ Max Fever is a good introduction to the series for someone who plays rhythm games but perhaps never the DJ Max games. The learning curve might be steeper for someone who’s never played a rhythm game before, but there are enough easy and slow songs to start with that I’m confident anyone can clear at least one song.