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Rock Band and Guitar Hero creators are back to make you a Nintendo Switch DJ

A first play with Fuser, a mash-up game coming this fall.

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- 02:29
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Fuser is all about DJ performances...and big fire stadiums.

NCSoft/Harmonix

I hesitantly drop a Billie Eilish keyboard track on top of Lizzo's vocals from "Good as Hell," mixed with drums from Fatboy Slim's "The Rockefeller Skank." I apologize in advance. I love listening to mash-ups, I love making mash-ups. I have no idea what I'm doing. I'm doodling around with music. It all sounds good to me.

The crowd I'm mixing for has its own opinions, and I'm hearing it. This is Fuser, a DJ game coming this fall from NCSoft and Harmonix. A long time ago I used to play DJ Hero, a game that Harmonix didn't make (Activision published it), but involved the fantasy of being a DJ. It was like Guitar Hero, but with a plastic fake turntable. Fuser is far more interesting than that.

The game reminds me a lot of Hasbro's card-based music game DropMix, a board game that launched back in 2017 and fizzled soon after... and that's because Harmonix designed that, too. But Fuser is a DJ game without plastic accessories or cards or anything else, and I love it for that. It could be portable, if you play on a Nintendo Switch. And it has the possibility of being a musical instrument, too. It's really like a DropMix sequel, turned into a card-free video game.

Harmonix has made a lot of music/rhythm games since Guitar Hero and Rock Band, (Dance Central, the music-based VR shooter Audica, DropMix) and I've played a lot of them. Fuser is a mix of hit-the-moment-at-the-right-time gameplay and a free-form flow, and I prefer that it's more of the latter. If I wanted to play with the included 100 tracks and just mix around, I could. The game allows four tracks at the same time, any mix of vocals, guitar, horns, keyboard, percussion. Each track has four different tracks you could quickly assign with a button-press. 

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Songs and tracks appear on top, and get dropped into spots underneath.

NCSoft/Harmonix

There are deeper tools, including sliders for BPM and tempo, or key. Apparently, there will also be tools to add new music samples created in-game. I got to play for a few minutes and try making some weird music, hitting achievements and quickly meeting crowd requests for "songs from the '00s" or "pop music." Sometimes I felt like a master chef, sometimes I felt like a short-order cook.

It's weird that Harmonix has partnered with NCSoft, a South Korean game studio known for MMO games like Lineage and Guild Wars, but there's a part of Fuser that aims to be massive and online, too. I didn't get to see how that part plays out. The game will have social communities, and will allow people to join into judge other people's sets, or stream out to people.

And I'd love for it to eventually be a mobile game, but it looks like it'll be console/PC only, for now (PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, PC). I'm really curious to play more.