PAX East – Cosmic DJ Hands-On Impressions

The last rhythm game I can remember that actually utilized and encouraged the fine art of improvisation was Um Jammer Lammy.  Now, the upcoming iOS game Cosmic DJ can count itself amongst that oddly specific niche.

Cosmic DJ is a game about making and remixing music, regardless of how much skill you have coming into it.  The demo I played started by offering me a number of scenarios to help revitalize something called the Jamtenna.  When I asked the sound designer, Katherine Wenske, if there was stage with horses in it, she directed me to a stage about helping a broken couple to reunite– the horses being just one the activities a struggle couple can partake in to mend their wounds.  By bringing the couple back together, positive vibes would return to and power up the Jamtenna.

The game opened up with the scenario, narrated by an announcer who sounds like he was ripped straight from Soul Train’s wackier Japanese cousin.  After explaining how music is more powerful than most people realize, I was allowed to select from a handful of instruments to begin improving music.  Four round yellow buttons appeared on the screen and I tapped them to the rhythm of the beat to create my own tune, each button producing a unique sound or tone.

When my beats were beginning to prove a little too funky for the game, Wenske changed the game from a casual mode to a more professional one where my beats where no longer corrected to the rhythm and I even had the option to specifically sequence the beats like a synthesizer.

After creating each track for each section of the song, the game ended by taking the tracks I made and remixing them into a full song, and even allowed me to make my own album art using a photo of myself edited around a la Japanese photo booths.

Cosmic DJ was fun and easy to play, and definitely would appreciated by both those with extensive music making experience and those who get by just tapping their feet along to a song.  When the game comes out on iOS soon, it’s definitely one to pick up, but some of you might actually already own an early version of the game from Devolver Digital’s Humble Bundle from a few weeks ago.

And yeah, there were horses running around in 3D glasses, so game of the show right there.

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