DJMax is a series of action-rhythm games made by Korean game development company Pentavision Entertainment and is reminiscent of Konami’s Beatmania, yet another action-rhythm game.
For those who are unfamiliar with the genre, an action-rhythm game consists of buttons that will be presented on the screen and as the music goes with it, the player should press the corresponding button, thus going along with the rhythm.
With the ever-popular K-pop getting worldwide exposure, DJMax is the one that introduced everyone to Korean music in general. And with the song selections with each game becoming the main feature of it, it’s how the series evolved and had that status of an unsung classic. But which games are they? Let us rate the DJMax series from worst to best.
Just a side note, I will not be counting the compilations released in both Japan and North America because they will be included on the list as separate individual games.
Also, the arcade games will not be counted due to their obscurity. Only footages of the arcade games exist and it is impossible to play them because of how arcade machines cost a fortune nowadays.
Starting the rankings at number thirteen…
13. DJMax Online
|Release Date||May 22, 2004|
I’ll be the one to say it: The original doesn’t mean it’s the best. There can be far better iterations of the game and DJMax Online isn’t it despite being the base and first game in the series. Released on May 22, 2004, DJMax Online was the new material to groove with for rhythm-based gamers out there who still cannot get over to Dance Dance Revolution.
With Guitar Hero coming a year later, DJMax Online has all the attention to players out there who exercise their fingers by tapping buttons according to the music. It certainly isn’t everyone’s cup of tea so they skip this one ahead and play the better ones, but it does some neat aspects such as the UI’s neon aesthetic and the responsive button-pressing.
Sadly, the game’s song list is way too limited, but it’s proportionate enough if you’re a beginner. Even the least hardcore DJMax fan will notice that the songs aren’t as many as the later titles, and it is why DJMax Online is nothing but the foundation of the series and nothing else.
12. DJMax Portable: Black Square
|Release Date||December 24, 2008|
Released on Christmas Eve, 2008, Pentavision Entertainment’s fifth entry of the series DJMax Portable: Black Square is nothing but a bad choice as a gift for DJMax players out there who are wanting more games to come, especially on the PSP handheld console. And this might the black sheep of the DJMax games released on the system, so there’s that.
There are too many features on the game introduced that it’s confusing and unfair to use, especially with that Auto-correct system, making the game move by itself in some cases if players keep on spamming it. And again, the shortage of song selections for certain game modes is underwhelming.
Nope, I do not recommend DM Max Portable: Black Square to those who are new to the series. The experience is just not that good compared to the other DJMax entries, and what ruins Black Square is how everything feels present all at once. Confusing? It might be the best word to describe the game.
11. DJMax Portable: Clazziquai Edition
|Release Date||October 24, 2008|
DJMax Portable: Clazziquai Edition is released two months before Black Square and you guessed it, it isn’t that great either. Even if it is the easier and more simplified version of Black Square, that didn’t bring the game to justice and was regarded as an unnecessary addition to the series.
If you want to play a more accessible edition of Black Square, Clazziquai is suitable for a handheld DJMax experience, but there is nothing new to the game aside from being toned down. Clazziquai is suiting for those who are looking for an easier DJMax game, but it will give a fair share of the challenge if the same patterns get repetitive and predictable.
Overall, DJMax Portable: Clazziquai Edition is just a lame beta version of Black Square, and both of them aren’t everyone’s favorite action-rhythm game in the series. Poor PSP buttons, though. They don’t deserve to be pressed like that.
10. DJMax Technika Q
|Release Date||October 13, 2013|
DJMax Technika Q is the first mobile port of the DJMax Technika arcade series and is the only way to play Technika without accessing the arcade versions of it. And for a mobile rendition of an arcade game, it is pretty decent but still lackluster. Technika Q is yet another great choice for an introduction for new players now that it’s on iPhone and Android systems.
For a series that is famous for its song choices, Technika Q only has four, but it will be five if you register. But what makes this so complicated is that each song has different patterns and play styles to study, relying on how the player reads the rhythm and the pattern output on the screen. Isn’t that a major bummer?
For a mobile game, it is a great deal. But the lag will constantly hit once the patterns are too many, and the input for the controls might not be responsive sometimes. DJMax Technika Q is a half-decent game, to say the least. It is quite good, but it could be better.
9. DJMax Ray
|Release Date||September 28, 2012|
DJMax Ray is an iPhone and iPad-only exclusive release by Pentavision on September 28, 2012, and is their first game on the platform. DJMax features twenty songs; pretty short, isn’t it? Well, it’s plenty for a mobile game. With the songs featured being a combination of Korean and European music that has a variety of genres, how can you complain? Now that’s one diverse option for songs in an action-rhythm game like DJMax.
Now, for the cons of the game, DJMax Ray isn’t having any regard for the demographic. The game gets too harsh on players and immediately asks them to step up their skills to catch up with the patterns. For a game on a small screen, it becomes Bloodborne real quick from how hard it is. Okay, not that hard but you get my point.
The songs are the only good point of the game, and maybe they’re all about quality over quantity of how catchy the songs are. I can’t help but look up the songs themselves and dance to them.
8. TapSonic TOP
|Release Date||August 30, 2017|
TapSonic TOP is a spin-off of DJMax for both iOS and Android platforms and serves as a breather for the series. For a spin-off, this is one interesting turnaround. With some songs making their return to the game and including a storyline, this makes a spin-off game like a heavy inclusion to the franchise.
The story’s main point is you, the player, creating a music empire by hiring artists and expanding the company you’re working for. And with the 2D anime theme, I think Neowiz just found their new audience: Otakus that are into music. It is basically an RPG game and you progress with the trademark action-rhythm gameplay that DJMax is known for.
But, was the story really necessary? Or it’s just an addition to make the spin-off feel any different? Personally, I think the story was great. But it’s aligned for a game that doesn’t need one. Whatever the decisions are, TapSonic TOP is more than a spin-off and had so much potential as a mainline game.
7. DJMax Technika Tune
|Release Date||September 20, 2012|
DJMax Technika Tune is the PS Vita rendition of the Technika series that originated from the arcade systems, and for some reason, it feels different from the other DJMax games. So different that it doesn’t feel like Pentavision’s masterpiece anymore. Or is it? It feels like a spin-off due to how watered down it is. Yet again, it is beginner-friendly, unlike the other titles.
However, the major downside of the game is how non-Korean songs are featured more than the actual ones from Korea. But that won’t be a problem if you’re looking for more new songs to play. Also, it depends if you like Vita’s rear touchpad being used on the gameplay, but it can be turned off if you don’t like the feeling of it.
Pretty much, DJMax Technika Tune is recommendable for everyone. The song selections are odd, and even if the Vita’s OLED screen is too bright for the game, it is still a great action-rhythm game, nonetheless.
6. DJMax Respect V
|Release Date||December 18, 2019|
DJMax Respect V is the latest title of the series, and it deserves nothing but respect despite the backlash it had upon release. Released exclusive for PC, DJMax Respect V offers twenty-six songs on the base game and tons of it as DLC, being one of the DJMax games that has the most songs ever.
Maybe Respect V was kind of hated due to how basic it is to pick up and play right away, which some older games tend to do. But yes, it gets hard from time to time, and experience can be a factor if you’re good at these types of games. And although it is a PC game, DJMax Respect V feels like a mobile game due to how time-consuming it is to grind just to unlock new songs.
It could have featured more licensed songs, but the song library is already massive and bloated that it doesn’t have room for more. It will just add up some space and it isn’t storage-friendly. But as for the game itself, well, it’s nice to see that DJMax has rejuvenated itself from almost losing its identity.
5. DJMax Respect
|Release Date||July 28, 2017 (Japan), March 6, 2018 (North America)|
DJMax Respect is Neowiz’s first game for the eighth-generation PlayStation 4 console and is the reboot of the DJMax Portable series. Now a full game in a more powerful system, DJMax Respect is back on top with loads of new songs, and with the return of Online Mode, the competitiveness in these types of games just doesn’t end.
With four modes including Online and 146 songs, most of them coming from the Portable games, DJMax Respect puts all the pieces to the puzzle together and made an unforgettable rhythmic encounter. And with each and every genre satisfying the player’s taste, DJMax Respect might be one of the games that will age well in the future.
Like Respect V, the original DJMax Respect also has a huge amount of DLC being published regularly, and perhaps this gives hope to everyone that arcade gaming isn’t dead just yet.
4. DJMax Portable 2
|Release Date||February 23, 2007|
Simple but efficient: That is how I explain DJMax Portable 2 within a single phrase. Released on February 23, 2007, the game finally made its way to the Western market after making a name for itself in Asia.
With over sixty songs included in the game, DJMax Portable 2 was clear on telling everyone that they should master the rhythm depending on the play style, and every single one of them was amusingly addictive. For a handheld game, Portable 2 is very immense. But of course, it doesn’t remove the who’s who of the series: the button challenges.
Remember, the four and five buttons are the easiest. Six is the average, and eight is the demon itself. DJMax Portable 2 does that so well, with its game balancing being decisive. Also, don’t feel guilty to add the songs to your playlist. Every Portable game has the best song selections.
3. DJMax Portable
|Release Date||January 14, 2006|
DJMax Portable is the second entry for the series and the first game released on the PSP, and this game started the Portable trilogy greatness that is too superb to neglect. Like Portable 2, the first game is simple. And with the textbook gameplay of pressing buttons along with the rhythm, DJMax Portable is easy to follow.
It teaches the players how to hit the buttons at the right time, and if you are a beginner, use the four-button mode and if you’re cocky enough, play with five or six buttons. And this is where the notorious eight buttons popped up, and it’s just as hard as beating Isaac Frost from Fight Night: Champion.
DJMax Portable is like a trial-and-error process. It’s not like it tells you that you suck at finding a rhythm, but the practice is a must to improve on the game and going along with the rhythm in general. It won’t be painful to follow once you find it.
2. DJMax Trilogy
|Release Date||December 25, 2008|
The second-best in the series is DJMax Trilogy, released on Christmas Day, 2008, for the Microsoft Windows. This might be the best Christmas gift for rhythm players out there, now that Trilogy came out at such great timing.
Even if this is one of those games aimed at the veterans, newer players will still have a place in DJMax Trilogy with the challenge being forgiving and not that of a burden. Again, the four-button is a must if you are a newbie. But once you manage to find it way too basic, move on to five, and good luck with the sudden changes.
The song choices are packed, with the English lyrics this time just like Portable 2 and 3. And that’s what makes DJMax Trilogy so enjoyable and fun to play. It’s how they upgraded the Portable trio into a PC port.
1. DJMax Portable 3
|Release Date||October 14, 2010|
Conceivably the most-anticipated game in the franchise, here’s DJMax Portable 3 released on October 14, 2010, for the PSP. For me, this is the peak of the series. The way it just gave the DJMax its ascending moment, becoming a favorite amongst all of the games.
One of the best features of the game is the Remix Mode, where previous songs made their appearance in previous Portable games. The mode was on Portable 2 as well, but Portable 3 did it slightly better. And without a doubt, Mission Mode makes the game even more challenging with specific objectives and goals to hit to finish a stage.
You couldn’t ignore the variety of the songs, too. From simplistic beats similar to lo-fi to dance music, DJMax Portable 3 remains one of the best action-rhythm games released on the platform.