Harmonix Returns With Fuser, a Festival DJ Mixing Game

Four turntables, no microphones

Harmonix Music Systems, the melodic studio known for such classics as Guitar Hero, Dance Central, Rock Band, and Amplitude, is back with a new jam that seeks to recreate the thrill of cramming parts of songs into other parts of songs, like so much musical peanut butter and chocolate. Fuser (or FUSER, as Harmonix’s broken caps-lock key would call it), is a festival DJ rhythm remixing game coming to Xbox One, PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch, and PC this fall. Unlike most of the Harmonix games you’re probably familiar with, Fuser does not require any special controllers or equipment.

As can be seen in the gameplay trailer below, Fuser gives the player four turntables to work with, along with a “crate” of songs to pull parts from. Each song has four color-coded parts, such as vocals, drum loops, synth leads, or bass tracks, and the player mixes and matches different parts together to create a new aural experience. The main difference between this and, say, the DJ Hero games, which were also about mashing up disparate jams into a new amalgam jam (or, amaljam), is that Fuser has no highway of notes that must be learned and followed. Instead, the player just fiddles with things as they see fit like a real DJ would, and are scored on their timing and how well the crowd reacts to their new amaljam.

It looks like you can only have one of each color category on your turntables at a time, so you can’t layer the drum loop from Billie Eilish’s “Bad Guy” on top of the drum loop from Lil Nas X’s “Old Town Road” remix (feat. Billy Ray Cyrus), for instance. You could, however, put Billie’s vocals on Billy’s guitar work, doubling your Billies and, in turn, your fun as well. As of this moment, Harmonix has only announced 16 songs for Fuser‘s soundtrack, but it says the game will launch with over 100 tunes. Here’s the list so far:

  • 50 Cent — “In Da Club”
  • Billie Eilish — “Bad Guy”
  • Blue Oyster Cult — “(Don’t Fear) The Reaper”
  • The Chainsmokers ft. Daya — “Don’t Let Me Down”
  • The Clash — “Rock the Casbah”
  • Fatboy Slim — “The Rockafeller Skank”
  • Imagine Dragons — “Thunder”
  • J. Balvin & Willy William — “Mi Gente”
  • Lady Gaga — “Born This Way”
  • Lil Nas X ft. Billy Ray Cyrus — “Old Town Road (Remix)”
  • Lizzo — “Good As Hell”
  • LMFAO ft. Lauren Bennett & GoonRock — “Party Rock Anthem”
  • Migos — “Stir Fry”
  • Post Malone — “Better Now”
  • Smash Mouth — “All Star”
  • Warren G & Nate Dogg – “Regulate”

Yes, it’s 2020 and people are still out here pushing “Party Rock Anthem,” a song that was recently inducted into the Smithsonian as the only surviving example of pop music from the early Cretaceous period. Also I think Imagine Dragons must have made some kind of monkey’s paw bargain about licensing their music to the video game industry, because you can’t swing a dead cat without hitting a trailer, stage presentation, or soundtrack that uses one of their songs. Anyway, what’s important here is that each one of these 16 songs is actually four separate parts, meaning that even this preliminary track list has 64 stems to screw around with. The full soundtrack should have more than 400 parts to choose from, which amounts to over 25 billion unique potential combinations, according to a child’s permutation calculator I found on the internet.

In traditional Harmonix music game fashion, players will unlock new songs, sound effects, and cosmetic items as they advance through the game’s progression, though Harmonix hasn’t shown off what any of that looks like just yet. (I’m gonna go ahead and guess that you can unlock your own Deadmau5 head, just to be safe.) Aside from the main progression, there’ll also be multiplayer modes of some kind, a freestyle mode without level objectives, and “live challenges,” whatever that means. Harmonix says we’ll be able to save and share our performances in such a way that others can watch them, but doesn’t go into detail about how that’ll work.

In addition to the gameplay demonstration above, there’s also an announcement trailer that I’ve decided to bury down here at the end of the post, mostly because I don’t like how the lady that kinda looks like Meg Myers ruins that other lady’s ice-cream cone, and is then shittily smug about it. This is bad behavior and I cannot condone it.