Game Music, Reviews

Third Time’s a Charm: DJMAX Technika 3 (Review)

Third Time’s a Charm: DJMAX Technika 3 (Review)

January 27, 2012 | | 1 Comment Share thison Facebook Third Time’s a Charm: DJMAX Technika 3 (Review)on Twitter

Actually, DJMAX Technika had me at hello. The first Technika soundtrack was probably my favorite to date, and we’ve covered a lot of DJMAX over the years. The unique blend of K-pop, electronic music, and contributions from Korean composers ESTi, Nauts, Diny, and Shinji Hosoe made for a unique experience that ranks among my favorites in the rhythm game genre.

DJMAX Technika 3 was recently released (it was actually at MAGFest X, but due to the line that persisted even at 4:00 AM, I never got to play it), and the limited edition soundtrack enjoyed a general release in North America as well as Japan and Korea. While it’s sold out now, I still wanted to delve in and give my impressions.

Does it live up to the DJMAX name, or is this franchise getting stale? Find out in our review after the jump.

I’ve said it many times, and I’ll continue to keep on saying it: Korean game developers and recording artists have a knack for great production. It’s always been true for the DJMAX series, and it continues to be true with DJMAX Technika 3, and it’s a big part of why K-pop is gaining an audience around the world.

Like other DJMAX titles, there’s a pretty eclectic mix of musical styles featured. Everything from K-pop to electronic to rock are all represented, although I’m happy to report that this one’s heavy on the K-pop and on the 3rd Coast, one of our favorite contributors to the series.

We actually get some 3rd Coast right out of the gate with the highly electronic “Fallin’ in LUV” which sports the group’s signature female vocals and male rapping and later, “My Heart, My Soul,” which is a short ballad and is admittedly not their strongest track to date. Interestingly, there’s a new artist featured by the name of STi who sport a similar sound to 3rd Coast, and their track “유령,” is quite good, making for an excellent addition to the DJMAX family.

For that K-pop sound that I so desperately desired, “You & Me” by series regular NieN really hits the spot as a sweet electro-pop ballad, while La Tale composer Diny’s “Dream Again” and the ever-vesratile Tsukasa’s “Over the Rainbow” both come as sticky sweet pop tracks with high-pitched vocals. “Now a NEW Day” by Sui.Jay is also fun and cute with its heavily-accented English female vocals. ND Lee gives us both my favorite track on the album, “설레임 Part 2,” a bubbly K-pop track with a nice swing and great length and one of my least favorites, “Give Me 5,” with whiny lyrics that are simply annoying. “EGG” by Nauts is upbeat with a great sort of ‘tick-tock” sound with the bass drum and hi-hat.

Other vocal tracks that stand out are Laurent Newfield & Revenant’s “Wanna Be Your Lover” with its smooth house sound with English lyrics, the soulful “A Life With You” with its stop-and-go musical backing, and the lightning-fast “Right Back” with its great melody.

Lots of great electronic tracks are featured as well, including “Kung-Fu Rider” with cool synth arpeggios and an octave-jumping bass, the ultra-funky “SigNalize,” Tsukasa’s attempt at trance with “Dark Prism,” and “Bamboo on Bamboo” by Sampling Masters Mega (Shinji Hosoe) which is similar in style to his past “SON OF SUN” with its rapid pace and chopped vocals (sounds like a difficult stage).

There are a lot of other styles represented, including “ShowDown” with a rock-meets-big-band sound, “Emblem” with Celtic woodwinds and fiddle, and “Black Swan,” a super elegant electronic remix of a classical piece. There are only a few duds on the entire album which include “SuperNova” with overuse of orchestral hits and screaming rap vocals that some artists seem to think is cool and “RockSTAR” featuring some less-than-stellar rap lyrics that include “I want to be your rockstar, and pick you up in my car.”

The second disc hosts extended versions of songs from the first disc as well as menu music. The extended versions cover mostly the trance and electronic tunes, fleshing some of them out including “Xeus” which gets much more dynamic with mellow sections paired with the laidback trance vibe. Unfortunately not a lot of my favorite tracks are extended with the exception of the two 3rd Coast tracks (a huge bonus!), the STi track, “Now a NEW Day” by Sui.Jay, and “EGG” by Nauts. There’s also a remix of “Thor” from DJMAX Technika 2 as another bonus.  The various menu tracks come next with Planetboom handling the happenin’ title tune and Cuvée, Astrokid, and XeoN handling the rest. Cuvée, a DJMAX newcomer as far as I can tell, really impresses me here with the dreamy “Lucid Dream (Login),” the ultra groovy “Musique Suite (Tutorial),” and the spacey “Night Drive (Result).” XeoN’s “Artificial Respiration (Thanks for Playing)” is also a great track.

Overall, I have to say that this is the best DJMAX soundtrack to hit since the original DJMAX Technika, and that’s a lot coming from me. I’d been kind of disappointed with recent DJMAX releases, but this one really hit the spot with lots of pop music and a tasteful blend of other styles. There are a few duds, but among all the great music, they’re minimal and easily skipped.

Since this is a limited edition, you’d expect some pretty extravagant packaging. Inside the neatly-etched slipcase box thing is a platinum member card, a wallet for your other member cards, stickers featuring some beautiful artwork from the game, and of course the soundtrack with a thick booklet containing all the lyrics and commentary (in Korean) for the album. I will say that it’s incredibly difficult to get everything back into the box, but it’s still quite nice.

Unfortunately the album is kind of hard to find now. It was sold in limited quantities in North America and other regions, but quickly sold out. Still, it’s worth looking into if you can find a copy.

Let us know what you think of the DJMAX series, and Technika in particular. Have you caught on to K-pop yet?

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