One of our common complaints about free to play MMOs is that there’s usually so little actual gameplay involved. Clicking on a mission to rob a bank in Mafia Wars, for example, is nothing like robbing a real bank, and we’re speaking from experience. That’s why it’s such a pleasant surprise that Booyah’s new MMO DJ Rivals incorporates actual rhythm-based gameplay.
You begin DJ Rivals by creating your character, a funky DJ trying to stop an evil corporation from limiting creative freedom in the music industry.To advance in the game, you’ll have to battle Bland Corp’s evil drones in real-world locations populated via your device’s GPS or Wi-Fi. You can also battle other human DJs in an asynchronous online fight, so they don’t have to be online when you challenge them.
I left my turntables in San Francisco.
If you’ve played Guitar Hero or Tap Tap Revenge, you’ll immediately understand DJ Rivals’ main gameplay component– tapping and scratching to the beat. You pick a move, like crossfades or scratches, and in the battle your beats scroll from the top of the screen as a pattern. If you time your taps and flicks correctly, you’ll do more damage to your opponent.
While you’re playing out these bite-sized rhythm minigames, licensed tracks will play in the background. We really enjoyed listening to the game’s selection of music, but they do repeat fairly quickly, and are often less than 30 seconds long. We hope that Booyah continues to add more music to the game, since you’re battling most of the time.
When you’re not battling, there’s still a lot to do. You can buy new gear, explore the game’s real-world locations, or upgrade your character. Premium in-game currency called Ice can be bought with real money, or you can earn Ice for downloading partner apps (many of which are free) through app discovery service Tapjoy. With a bit of time and effort, you can earn plenty of Ice without paying a dime.
And you’ll need all the Ice you can get your hands on. Leveling up your DJ is extremely addictive, because you’re always just a few battles away from unlocking a new move, completing a story mission, or landing your local Starbucks as a regular paying gig.
Except for the quickly repeating licensed music, we absolutely love DJ Rivals. The visual style is pronounced and appealing, and the barrier to entry is nil due to the fact that it’s a free download. You don’t even have to pay to get ahold of the premium currency if you take advantage of Tapjoy’s offers. DJ Rivals is a brilliant mash-up of MMOs and rhythm games, crossfaded with cool production values in a club with no cover charge.