Videos of players rocking six button mode and frantically hitting buttons makes the DJ Max Portable series look intimidating. The concept of DJ Max Portable is similar to Guitar Hero and very close to Beatmania. You press buttons on beat to hit notes, get points, and clear songs. It’s the intense stream of notes that gave the DJ Max series a reputation of being, for better or worse, difficult.
In general the DJ Max Portable games can get challenging, but if you start out in four button mode they aren’t too bad. DJ Max Portable: Clazziquai Edition simplifies the series a step further with a newly created two button mode. This difficulty level has less notes and less buttons to worry about. It feels like Pentavision designed two button mode to make DJ Max Portable: Clazziquai Edition accessible for people who haven’t played a rhythm game before. If you have played a rhythm game, more specifically another DJ Max game, you can mostly ignore two button mode and go straight to five, six, or four button FX which uses the shoulder buttons plus four face buttons.
I said mostly ignore two button mode because you’re going to see it pop up in Club Tour, DJ Max Portable: Clazziquai Edition’s mission mode equivalent. Club Tour starts out in Club TuTo and “TuTo” is short for tutorial. DJ Max Portable: Clazziquai Edition holds your hand through the basics while four mascot characters cheer you on. You can skip Club Tuto, but Club Cocoon still has two button missions you need to clear to unlock more clubs and eventually songs. Most of the club stops don’t have special conditions like mission mode in DJ Max Portable 2. All you need to do to win is clear all of the songs in a playlist with the assigned difficulties and you move on. If you happen to play a song you don’t have in your collection you automatically unlock it. Since the missions are much easier at the beginning unlocking items in DJ Max Portable: Clazziquai Edition happens rapidly, but to balance out the universe not as many songs are initially available in arcade mode. Jumping into Club Tour mode is the fastest way to get those extra songs.
Club areas like 1st Avenue and Black Market have multiple clubs to clear. At the end of each area is a hub where rival DJs are waiting to challenge you to move up on an imaginary ladder. Beating these DJs require more skill since you have set conditions like getting an overall max rating of 85% or higher. Winning matches unlock character portraits and moves you up the totem pole from rank 200 all the way to #1. Like DJ Max Portable 2 you can also unlock gears and notes to further customize the interface. However, gears are just in the game for cosmetic value since the experience/gold system went out the window and you edit your stats with the effector. Players can pick items like HP up to expand their life bar, Note +1, and select your maximum fever meter. The fever meter is the trick to getting crazy combos. When you charge it up and activate fever mode each note you hit is worth two, three or even five times more than usual.
The song list in DJ Max Portable: Clazziquai Edition obviously has songs from Clazziquai, but not as many as you might imagine considering they’re headlining the game. Love Mode, Freedom, Color, Come to Me, Flea, and the Night Mode are the licensed Clazziquai songs I’ve seen so far. The interesting thing is there is more Clazziquai music in DJ Max Portable: Clazziquai Edition, you just don’t get to play them. Some Clazziquai music videos like one for Robotica can be unlocked too. There is other fan content too like Clazziquai PSP wallpapers in the image gallery. Overall, this mix of music feels more pop-ish than the techno heavy blend from the other two games in the series. You still have some hard electronic tracks like Oblivion, but they are a minority compared to the number of vocal house songs. Outside the Clazziquai tracks, the coolest song has to be Hard to Start since its done in the style of chip tunes.
Pentavision put three language options in the game. You can play DJ Max Portable: Clazziquai Edition in Korean, Japanese, and most importantly for the readers here in English. While we’re getting our own DJ Max game in North America, I doubt it’s going to feature Clazziquai. Good thing Pentavision made DJ Max Portable: Clazziquai Edition import friendly.
Images courtesy of Pentavision.