The Good: Awesomely huge soundtrack, super addictive game play, lots of extras
The Bad: Same as the Korean versions, nothing new has been added, missing key songs from previous titles
Hot Tunes does for Korea what Fever did for the US: Deliver the popular Korean rhythm game as a "Best Of", but adds nothing new to the table that Fever didn't already provide. The only thing you will notice right off the bat is the new "Lite" 4 button mode.
DJ Max is a huge rhythm game hit in Korea that use a DDR type game play style. There is obviously no dance mat so you have to use the face buttons and this works out just fine. There are 4 button, 5, 6, and 8 button modes. While 4 is the easiest 8 can be damn near impossible. You select a song for each of the four stages and each stage has harder and harder songs.
The game has some RPG elements such as leveling up to unlock more gear, images, songs, etc. Notes, Gear (the whole box in which the notes fall), and your character can have certain attributes that earn you more exp, gold etc. There is even a speed modifier for people who want more of a challenge or if the game is going too fast for you. This can be changed during the song or before it.
After you get a certain score on a song you can play a harder version of that song on the same stage by pressing left or right. During play you must hit each note when it hits the bottom. Depending on your accuracy a number percentage will appear. If you miss a note you will break your combo, but if you fill your Fever bar and use it your combo will double for a short amount of time. You don't just hit single notes however; there are held notes and even "scratched notes" that require you to spin the analog stick.
Once you finish a song you are scored on how well you performed and given a grade, some experience and gold. Gold is used to buy more gear. There are 50 songs and each one has a wonderfully illustrated music video that streams in the background. If you get bored with the main mode you can complete challenges which have set goals. Reach this score, don't break more than this many times etc. If you really love the music in here you can even listen to the OST or watch the videos. There are dozens of images to unlock and lots of goodies for fans to keep playing.
The game may sound perfect, but it has flaws. There are already five other DJ Max games (including Clazziqai and Black Square Edition) and this is exactly the same as those. Hot Tunes takes some of the more popular songs from those games, but it is still missing some key gems. Playing more than 4 buttons will frustrate most players, there's no way to transfer the OST to your memory stick, and you can't transfer songs from the other versions like you can within those. If you already own Fever or have even played the other entries you're not missing anything with Hot Tunes, but if you're brand new to the series this is a great entry.