When it comes to rhythm games, like any game, there are a number of factors that make for a great (or poor) experience. The two most important factors by far are content and gameplay. Is there a solid song selection, and are you having fun? Everything else is secondary. Thankfully, DJMax Respect boasts an incredibly (some would say daunting) lineup of music, and gameplay is approachable and deep. This is a game you can pick up and understand instantly, which isn't to say that it's easy. In fact, you're likely to spend months mustering a passing mastery of even its simplest tunes.
You'll be faced with an ever-expanding list of songs, spanning pretty much every genre, totaling almost 150 in number. There are multiple gameplay modes, here, which vary in complexity. Newcomers will want to stick with the four-button mode for a long time before moving on to the six-button mode and, ultimate, an insane eight-button mode. Even the four-button mode will test your mettle out of the gate, with all but the simplest and slowest songs demanding your utmost attention and concentration.
Once the muscle memory begins to sink in and you learn to read note prompts more intuitively, DJMax Respect begins to open up and blossom beautifully. You'll find yourself branching out into musical genres you wouldn't typically indulge in, just so you can try something new and challenging, and you're always rewarded with quick turnarounds. DJMax Respect always lets you quit, restart, or re-select at a moment's notice, and loading times are negligible. It's easy to get lost in this game, and to keep trying, because it never "punishes" you for being brave and failing.
I mentioned that content and gameplay are the two most important factors. There are other, lesser factors that we tend not to think too much about while playing a rhythm game: things like UI, menus, and modes. DJMax Respect knocks it out of the park in every regard. I'm going to go ahead and say that I think this game has the coolest menu screen I've ever seen in my life. Hyper-colorful, brilliantly animated effects and icons will blaze across the screen as you nod your head to the menu theme, and the presentation is so slick you could skate across it with sandpaper shoes. If you thought Persona 5 was dazzling, just wait until you see this menu.
There are also a variety of game modes to choose from. While you'll spend most of your time trying to high-scores in Arcade mode, there's also a more relaxed Freestyle mode where you can practice songs at your leisure. If you're feeling truly confident, you can take on other players online in real time, or take on some challenge missions with special success parameters that have to be met. These start off rather simple, but very quickly escalate in difficulty. There are some missions that I will never complete.
That is part of DJMax Respect's appeal, though. This is a game so ambitious in scope, and so effortlessly cool, you'll always feel willing and eager to return. New songs and customizations are meted out constantly as you play, and those of you who are at all rhythmically inclined will find that you are constantly getting better. As your competence grows, DJMax Respect will always be there to meet you with a greater, more gratifying challenge. For rhythm game fans, and especially for long-time fans of the DJMax series, this is a no-brainer.
WWG's Score: 4 / 5