Gaming

Review: DJ Boy (Arcade)

DJ Boy is a little known name. Released only in Japan for arcades, it was adapted for the Mega Drive the same year. Even on this 16-bit medium, there remains an unknown game that we will not find in any compilation or the best of Sega machines. It’s a shame.

Returning to this arcade opus, it was released in early 1990, a few months after Final Fight, and in the same time slot as Moonwalker or Golden Axe. Suffice it to say that the competition was fierce if we add Double Dragon and others beating them with all that’s left in history.

Finally, know that in 1992, Kaneko developed another title in the same genre: B.Rap Boys, which uses the concept of “beat them all” with a moving scroll, where our character this time rides a bike. Between the title and the vehicles, one could see the spiritual continuation of DJ Boy.

What is this Kaneko game worth and how is it different from the console version? The verdict is below.

DJ Boy feat. Michael Jackson

Before the game’s title screen, which appears as graffiti, you see a character dressed as Dracula and bats warning DJ Boy in a slightly harsh and not necessarily super clear voice-over. Be that as it may, we tell ourselves that we have our villain from the game, that this damned Dracula is going to kidnap our sweet lover and that we will have to save her, risking our lives. After all, it’s nothing.

As you’ll discover as the game progresses, this demonic character never appears in the game, and we’re suddenly wondering why this introduction…

By pressing Start, we will find out the true story of our hero. Forget about girlfriends to save, the scenario is completely different here. The game starts with our character dancing to hip-hop choreography in the middle of the street. To his left, we see another character similar to Mikael Jackson in the SD version, wearing the famous red leather suit from Thriller. This tribute to the king of pop will be especially noticeable in the game, especially at the end of each level, where our DJ Boy starts dancing, performing a choreography close to what Mikael Jackson could do. It’s hard not to see a few tributes there.

Returning to the scenario, while DJ Boy hobbles on the screen, a group of hooligans, visibly annoyed by the music, shows up and steals our hero’s stereo before escaping with it. Not once, not twice, DJ Boy goes on a chase with his roller skates.

You must have understood, here the name DJ Boy takes on its full meaning, our character is a fan of sound systems, and the pursuit of enemies is justified by our roller skates to catch up with them.

Having said that, we tell ourselves that the game is over once we identify the gang responsible for this infamous theft, teach a good lesson to the big boss, and restore our state-of-the-art Hi-Fi system. Oh no. In fact, the levels will follow each other without any real consistency between them, for example, the last level will take place in the Far West, and the last boss will consist of two big karate moms throwing stones at us. We run into them for a reason I don’t know, and the end of the frame arrives with no explanation unrelated to the stolen Heafy or the Dracula character seen during the intro. I thought there must be a hidden boss, a secret level, to try to understand the nonsense, but I did not find anything.

In a word, the developers have made a game that ultimately has no head or tail and where you don’t have to think too much.

In this, his conversion to the Mega Drive will bring a real scenario construction in the style of the long-awaited comic book.

Minimalistic gameplay, but on rollers

So DJ Boy still beats them all with horizontal scrolling, but with the twist that our hero is rollerblading. Therefore, the scrolling is constantly advancing, except for bosses or a few areas where you will have to face a horde of enemies. This gives a certain originality to the game, because it is not legion to beat them all in this style. From memory I can quote Eight Man on Neo Geo, that’s all…

In addition to this ability to always be on the move, our hero can punch, kick and jump. Pressing both buttons gives a slightly stronger hit. Nothing more. You cannot use weapons.

However, unlike what we could see in the Mega Drive version, when you hit with your fists or kicks, our character performs a series of blows, something like a combo. This already brings a little more clarity and gives more credibility to the whole.

We also notice that your enemies can catch you if you stay too quiet. Then another enemy will attack you. Too bad we can’t do that against them too, especially with two players.

Because yes, there is a two-player mode here. You embody exactly the same character, but instead of an orange jacket and cap, he is in red. Another difference is that at the end of each level, each character performs a different choreography than the other player’s to celebrate victory.

We’d love to pick playable characters, but we’ll just have to settle for our DJ Boy.

Finally, be aware that credit = 4 life, and that you regenerate points by breaking some items (very rarely) or by killing enemies and bosses. The lives offered are given relatively easily, and therefore it is impossible to finish the game without losing credits, which is rare in arcade games.

Medium technique

Kaneko is a small box that has never shined with exceptional arcade games. Aside from a few respected hits like Gal Panics, Air Buster or Jackie Chan, their titles are good but visually average below what we could find.

DJ Boy is no exception to the rule, even if the arcade game is far superior to the Mega Drive version developed a few months later.

In total you have to go through five levels. The first four will be occupied by Mega Drive, where in order will be the city and its tram, subway, construction site and casino. However, they will have more variety in their settings as our character evolves as he roller-skates through the changing landscape.

The fifth level is typical for an arcade cabinet with a scene in the extreme west, with a desert, cacti and mountains in the program.

With the exception of the construction site, which has a slight vertical, all levels are strictly linear, with very few obstacles in your path, oil puddles to avoid, or pits.

There are quite a lot of enemies with sprites of all sizes, which brings a little variety to the game. You still have rollerblading hooligans, midgets in suits and ties, tricycle clowns, cheerleaders and other perfectly recognizable enemies.

The same goes for the bosses, which you will find mostly in the Mega Drive version. For example, Big Mama, who is much more stereotypical here than in the console version, especially in her “KO” pose. Clearly a character capable of causing controversy, as are tall white men in bare-chested leather suits with whips, or tramps in a long raincoat, or even a bodybuilder in tight shorts. As well as many characters that would be very difficult to add to the game today and which perhaps explain why we do not find this arcade machine outside of Japan.

The boss is unique to an arcade game: a metal rock band on the casino level. It’s a pity that they didn’t take Mega Drive back, because for my taste it is the most successful.

Visually, the game offers a color palette to match the proposed environment with pleasing decor, even if it lacks life, parallel scrolling, or animation in general. Everything remains a little frozen and visible.

Note, however, that the character’s animation is well broken up, much more so than in the console version.

Finally, the soundtrack level, the game offers rhythmic music that fits well with the game, but we quickly forget. Mr. Watanabe, who was responsible for this part of the soundtrack, is also the only one involved in both the arcade and console versions.

Conclusion

DJ Boy is a minimalist game. If we discard the fact that this is done with a scroll that continuously advances, and that our hero is on rollers, we are left with a low average of their hitting all the time. The two-player mode brings a little more importance compared to its console opus, and its atypical vibe makes the game a bit of a stand-alone game.

Once we’ve said that, all beat ’em lovers will appreciate a bit of history to complete their video game culture and move on quickly.

As long as she’s delusional, Kaneko had to let go completely, offering more levels, more barred enemies, and a bit of variety in the courses. In this game, the very obscure B.Rap Boys will fill in a lot of gaps in DJ Boy without being a great game…

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