Inside the development of DJ Max Fever

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PM Studios partnering with Pentavision to release a DJ Max game in North America was an unprecedented announcement. If you haven’t heard of the DJ Max series it’s similar to Beatmania where players press buttons to hit notes. Here’s a video glance at the series for the unfamiliar.



The first DJ Max game to get an official release in North America will be DJ Max Fever when it comes out in November. DJ Max Fever is a remix of the two DJ Max Portable games with brand new content. We spoke with Michael Yum, Executive Producer at PM Games, and Kalos Kim from Pentavision Entertainment to find out what kind of content will be in DJ Max Fever and how their relationship started.


I'm really curious about how you started a relationship with Pentavision. Did you call them up out of the blue and say "Hey, we want DJ Max Portable?”


Michael Yum, Executive Producer at PM Studios: When PM Studios first started they were initially interested in iPhone Development.  We then started looking at projects we were interested in developing and publishing.  After numerous amounts of research, we felt our first title would be the best on the PSP system.  We then started evaluating tons of games and really felt DJ Max would be the best game to introduce to North America.  There were lots of players and blogs praising this title.  Of course then, we contacted Pentavision and I immediately began working with Kalos on bringing this project to the States.


How does Pentavision feel about one of their games appearing in North America?


Kalos Kim, Pentavision Entertainment: We are really excited about DJ Max Fever right now. A while ago, we announced ‘DJ Max Metro Project’, which is the big project for the entire DJ Max franchise. While we were planning on this project, PM Studios contacted us at the right time. It was perfect timing because Fever is now part of the Metro Project.




What is the most difficult part about bringing DJ Max Fever to the USA?


MY: It really had to be the fan service.  As a hardcore gamer myself, I truly wanted to give the fans what they wanted.  Pentavision felt the exact same way.  These are the people who inspire us to work harder.  Honestly to this date, we read everyone’s comments daily and are working hard to squeeze in every possible thing we can to the dual layer UMD.


Is DJ Max Fever a mashup of DJ Max Portable 1 and 2?


MY: DJ Max Fever is what we would like to call an introduction to the franchise for the US market.  There are fans all over the world that are already familiar with the franchise so it is hard to introduce this game when people from other countries are already exposed to it.  So what we wanted to do was release a “Best of DJ Max Portable” like version of this title.  This way we are releasing a game that has the best of both versions.  This means that we did tons of research on which songs stood out, what types of features the players wanted, etc…  Essentially, DJ Max Fever will play just like part 2 with the new Fever system, OST Mode, M/V Mode, Xtreme Challenges and 500 unlockable items for all those achievement junkies. 




I was just reading what IGN said about DJ Max Fever too and they said 100 songs are in the game. The 50+ figure I have could represent that, but can you give us a clearer idea of the number of songs in the game?


MY: Honestly, we still don’t know the exact amount.  We are working vigorously to include as much as we can and will continue to do so.  When IGN said there were 100 songs, what they meant was over 100 different combinations of songs. For those who are not familiar with the series, DJ Max Fever has players select different songs in different stages, which gives them tons of different combinations.  I know this sounds like we are trying to give the game more credit but we do have the Xtreme Challenge Mode which has 70 different mission like challenges.  These stages have players do different patterns on the included soundtrack. 


DJ Max Portable went through a series of changes when DJ Max Portable International came out. Will we see "lost" songs like Dreadnought in DJ Max Fever?


MY: All I can say is that you will see songs from Portable 1, 2 and International and we are keeping the controversial songs.


Will there be any new songs specifically for the American audience or anything from DJ Max Metro in the game?


MY: This was one of the hardest decisions to make.  It pretty much came down to 2 questions: 1) The fans want the same soundtrack and don’t want us to nerf the game by including American songs.  2) For the game to be as successful as “Guitar Hero” and “Rock Band” we have to change the soundtrack.


As I told you before, I am a hardcore gamer and the fans really meant a lot to us.  We also wanted to honor Pentavision by showing gamers their talents with this franchise.  So we went with number 1.  So for all the fans out there, yes we are keeping the Korean lyric songs in Fever.  As for the Metro Project, I am not at liberty to say anything unfortunately except that it is simply amazing.  Maybe Kalos would like to say something since they are beta testing one of the games to the public today.


KK: DJ Max Metro Project isn’t just a game. We can say it is a big house for all those DJ Max titles, and for the first title from DJ Max Metro Project is going to be ‘DJ Max Technika’. The game isn’t out yet, so there’s nothing much to say, but I can say this the 3 days of beta test went really good. Also, for the fans that have been waiting for the new DJ Max Portable, we might have 1 or 2 new songs in DJ Max Fever.




Are there any other additions or changes in DJ Max Fever not found in either of the DJ Max Portable games released in Korea?


MY: I guess Kalos just answered this question.  We are designing exclusive content for the US Version not found anywhere else.  So there you have it, we are keeping the original tracks that everyone loves and creating new ones.


The DJ Max Portable series has been out for a few years. Are you concerned that the core audience interested in the game already imported the two other titles?


MY: We are adding some new stuff to the Fever version.  I can’t say much at the moment but we are trying to add new songs and a ranking system as well as trying to do something unique with the Link system.  The importing situation is of concern, but hopefully the fans find interest in the new things we put up.  The ranking system should be a great feature for the fans who can now post their skills against others to win prizes. 


Have you set a price for the game yet?


MY:  We have not set a final price yet.  This is something the retailers take a big part in.


Is the package art I have final?


MY: The package art will not look anything like the one on the sales sheet.  That was just a preliminary package cover.




I believe this is PM Studio’s first retail console game. How do you plan to distribute DJ Max Fever into the overcrowded retail sector? Will this be a hard game to find?


MY: We are working with every retailer possible.  The game should be easy to find.  Almost every retailer has made a commitment to the game.  The drought of PSP games has really helped us, lol. 


Let’s switch gears and talk about PM Studios. What do you think of Korean console development?


MY: The Korean developers are making a huge impact in the videogame industry.  From what I have seen so far, each developer takes so much pride in each game they make that they devote their private time to make each game happen.  At Pentavision, different teams work so hard to outdo each other.  They just love making games for people to enjoy. 


Ntreev Soft has a version of Pangya on the PSP and are planning to publish Astonishia Story 2. Have you had a chance to look at either of these games?


MY: Unfortunately I have not, but thanks for the information.  We will look into them.


What other consoles does PM Studios plan to support in the future?


MY: We are currently working with Sony, Microsoft and Apple.  Our next title should be for the PS3 and Xbox 360.  We have our hands pretty full at the moment.  If the right game comes up, we should definitely make a game for the Wii and DS.


Is PM Studios developing original properties?


MY: We are developing our own properties right now.  These projects take a lot of time in preproduction so it may be a while before any announcements are made.


Are you planning on more projects with Pentavision? We haven’t heard anything about S4 League Portable in awhile…


MY: We love working with Pentavision.  When we first started we definitely saw them as our partners and we have built a great relationship.  We are working very closely to make sure US gets a taste of Pentavision Entertainment.  As for S4 League, it’s another story that we should definitely talk about very soon. Wink wink!


Images courtesy of PM Studios.

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