Game Reviews

D4DJ Groovy Mix

8 min read

A year ago, Bushiroad announced a new franchise based on the DJ concept, Dig Delight Direct Drive DJ, or D4DJ for short. This year, the rhythm game of this franchise, called D4DJ Groovy Mix, is released. I'm of course interested in the game because it's a rhythm game, so I tried it out.

Interestingly, the developer of the game is the same as Tokyo 7th Sisters, Donuts, and there's an actual collab plan of D4DJ with Tokyo 7th Sisters too.

D4DJ itself is a multimedia franchise, with other media such as lives and anime (which is called D4DJ First Mix). This article will specifically talk about the rhythm game media, D4DJ Groovy Mix.

The title screen has an actual opening section, which is nice.

Title screen
An opening sequence!

When starting the game for the first time, you will be introduced to some of the basics of the game, like the rhythm gameplay, basic member management, and of course the gacha.

After completing the tutorial, you will be greeted with a home screen that certainly feel familiar if you played BanG Dream before. You can explore different areas in a map, where you can interact with the characters to earn small rewards.

Home screen
This is the first screen you'll see past the title screen.
Area map
The area map

Interestingly, aside from the area map, you can switch to a view of your club, which is customizable.

Home screen (club)
Look, your own club!

You can customize the club background, the stage design, the DJ equipment appearances and the ceiling.

Club customize screen
Design your club according to your liking with customizations.

The club also has the music shop functionality, allowing you to buy songs, like in BanG Dream GBP. Here, you can buy cover songs, game BGM songs, and miscellaneous instrumental songs. However, this is not the only place where you can buy songs.

Music shop screen
Unlock songs in the shop

You can tap the DJ booth where you can see the guestbook, where I can assume you can see who visited your club and decided to leave a mark. You can also start a medley live from here, which I will explain in detail later.

Booth screen
The DJ booth interface

The unit menu is where you can set up your unit formations, train your members, exchange your currencies, and look at characters.

Unit screen
Manage your units here

A unit consists of 4 main members and 4 support members. Each member has an attribute which mainly affect events. As with other games with this system, I use an attribute-based composition and a unit-based composition.

Unit formation screen
Initial Happy Around arrangement.

For improving your members, you can level up your members, level up the skills, or do a limit-break.

Training screen
Leveling up characters you have.

The exchange screen allows you to spend the currency you have for some items.

Exchange screen
The exchange interface

The character picture book allows you to look into your characters' profile and current cards you own.

Character list screen

The gacha screen is not that different from other Bushiroad games, however the illustrations are animated. The currency for gacha in this game is Diamonds, and a 10-roll costs 3000 of them.

Gacha screen
Animated gacha banners are cool
Gacha result screen
A 4*, not bad.

The story menu is where you can read stories, which are divided into different parts, and event story. Each unit has stories that are unlocked with unit rank, similar to BanG Dream.

Story screen
Indulge in the story of D4DJ

In the Live menu, you can access the main rhythm gameplay, which are divided into three main modes, Free Live for single-player, Multi Live for multi-player, and Medley Live, an interesting single-player mode.

Live screen
Select your mode

In Free Live mode, you play the songs single-player. Each song has 4 difficulty levels, EASY, NORMAL, HARD, and EXPERT. The fourth one, EXPERT, is unlocked if you first achieved sufficient clears in HARD.

Interestingly, there are three different layouts for song selection, a disc-like vertical rotating selection layout, a tiled selection layout, and a list selection layout.

Free live screen
The rotating selection mode
Free live screen
The tiled selection mode
Free live screen
The list selection mode

A very interesting thing on the song selection screen here is that there's a chart analyzer graph available, showing the rate of aspects of a song's chart, like the number of notes, the number of scratch notes, and the number of effect notes.

Free live screen (analyzer)
Know what you play.

Before starting the Free Live, you are able to make adjustments to your settings, like lane speed, note size, and offsets. Unsurprisingly, I have to make adjustments to those, especially the offsets, although it's normal for my device and operating system.

Song unit screen

Another interesting thing here is that you are able to do auto specific types of notes, so you can just play the effects and scratch notes, or you can just play the basic notes only. You can also auto everything, and still counted as a play! The varying levels of auto is similar to some of the more advanced rhythm games I know. Doing an auto play is also possible with enabling auto for every single note, and those are still counted!

Mode selection screen
The ability to auto different types of notes is nice.

The rhythm gameplay is complicated, but unique. The basic tap and hold notes still exists here, however the other types of notes are really interesting.

One, the DJ disc on the left and right side. It has tap and hold type notes. The tap notes will pause the chart for a little while, and the hold notes will pause the chart as long as the note is pressed. While I am not really a fan of those type of gimmicks (and I talked about it before in a review of another rhythm game), the charting of this game doesn't really overuse this, and you can always see the scratch notes-minimal charts with the analyzer graph.

The other one, is the slider at the bottom of the playfield, which work similarly to the knob notes on SOUND VOLTEX. You can move the slider to match the moving effect notes, or flick the slider to hit slam notes. The effect notes, as the name implies, will apply DJ-like effects to the song, similar to a combination of SOUND VOLTEX's FX and knob notes.

In the demo version of the game, the sound effect is not aligned to the song, but to the notes, causing a very noticeable dissonance when your offset is not 0. Fortunately, there's an option to disable the specific effects causing this dissonance, added in the game.

The charting takes advantage of the effect notes mechanic, because you can release the slider while it's in an effect note, and still register as a hit. This means that there are charting patterns where other notes come while the effect note is still ongoing, similar to what I saw in SOUND VOLTEX.

D4DJ Groovy Mix has the potential of having a high-level skill ceiling with the unique gameplay, and already I'm struggling with clearing the higher-level ones, because they are really dense.

Gameplay
A complicated, but unique gameplay.

The Multi Live aspect is similar to BanG Dream GBP,. You get matched with 3 players, each of the players a song, and a randomizer decides the song to be played.

Multi live screen
There are rooms, like other Bushiroad games implementing multi-live
Multi live song selection screen
The free live song selection interface applies in Multi Live too.
Multi live setup screen
Final configuration before you go play Multi Live. 

Finally, a very interesting mode is the Medley Live mode. In this mode, you choose 4 songs, that will be played like a medley sequentially from the first. You can also save the medley set you make in this mode, to be played later.

Medley live song selection screen
Medley live is an interesting feature.
Medley live setup screen
Medley live difficulty selection

I probably expected much more out of the medley live, but it's as exactly as I described, part of each 4 songs played back-to-back in sequential order. As someone who played SOUND VOLTEX, I'm familiar with AUTOMATION PARADISE, which is the most likely reason I want more out of the medley live.

It's a good rhythm game

D4DJ Groovy Mix's gameplay is a bit complicated, but it's actually something that I like, as more variety in charts is possible. Besides, you can customize how much note types you want to auto, allowing you to adjust the difficulty you want, or even do an autoplay.

The chart analyzer is also a great feature, allowing you to see the kind of charts you play, and know where you're weak at.

The other aspects of the game is pretty much standard Bushiroad rhythm game experience, so if you played other Bushiroad rhythm games like GBP, you won't have much of a trouble managing your cards here.

On the other hand, Medley Live is a bit underwhelming, though it's because my expectations are too high.

Personally, D4DJ Groovy Mix is a good rhythm game. It's complex, yes, but the supporting features allows you to become better at playing this rhythm game. It's geared towards rhythm game players willing to learn its complex mechanics and advanced, competitive players.

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