Thanks to Fuser, my house has recently been submitted to some of the best/worst mixes you could imagine. I am very happy with the mix where I weave the bassline of The Clash's Rock the Casbah into the clipped guitar of Amerie's 1 Thing, before bringing Deadmau5's Ghosts 'n' Stuff to the fore. It's the sort of magic Fuser regularly conjures, making even the most discordant elements start to merge together.
Fuser's freestyle mode is basically digital Dropmix, and is therefore Very Goodhttps://t.co/v5pFi51jDz pic.twitter.com/aehhRabcQ7November 11, 2020
Also, you can put Evanescence and Smash Mouth in the same mix. I won't embed my attempt at that here, because frankly even I'm not sure it's worth listening to, but at least it's like nothing else you've ever heard before. And that's the beauty of Fuser, with developer Harmonix finding a way to marry the dream realisation of Guitar Hero to the discovery thrill of Dropmix.
One More Time
If you're unaware of Harmonix's recent history, the developer who changed rhythm games with Guitar Hero and Rock Band has been on something of an experimental tear. There was the PS4 remake of Amplitude, which took the gameplay concepts of the original and then created a concept album for the game's story mode. Then came Dropmix, a board game that allowed you to mix songs in real time by dropping in cards onto a NFC reader, with Audica, a VR rhythm shooter, following close behind. Suffice to say, the Boston studio has been dipping its toes in a lot of ponds.
Which is why Fuser feels like something of a homecoming. On the surface, this is Harmonix's take on DJ Hero, giving aspiring disc spinners the chance to wow crowds by dropping discs into the mix at the right time, while fielding requests from an increasingly demanding audience. A campaign that has you being promoted from stage-to-stage at a festival will feel instantly familiar to anyone who has strummed their way through Guitar Hero, although Fuser has a lot more going on than tapping a few coloured buttons.
Fuser's real magic is not in the structured, high score-chasing of it's campaign (even if it's a great introduction to the pool of intricacies that exist in the game), but what can you do once you head into the sandpit of freestyle mode. Here, you'll be able to muck around with a selection of the game's soundtrack, chopping and changing songs as you see fit, trying to create simply for the sheer enjoyment of it.
And once you understand the basics, it's incredibly easy to find a lot to enjoy in Fuser's ability to create toe-tapping Frankenstein mixes. The game's breadth of genres – from country to EDM, old-school punk to cutting-edge pop, one of the coolest songs of all time in Warren G's Regulate to The Shrek Anthem – means that most people will have a collection of songs they already love. Thankfully, the game naturally pushes you to try a variety of tracks, and it's in the unexpected musical brews where Fuser really charms. Should Coldplay's Clocks sound so good when mixed with Cardi B's Bodak Yellow? No. But it does, somehow.
(Don't) Hang the DJ
Factor in a social mode that encourages people to share their creations, and already Fuser feels like a playground of inventiveness, of amateur DJs giddy at the prospect of discovering what works and what doesn't. I haven't even touched on the fact that you can create your own music with the in-game instruments tool, but the scope of what's possible with Fuser is more than jamming Smash Mouth into everything.
And perhaps this expanded scope is what makes Fuser more than a mere nostalgia trip for Harmonix. The focus has shifted from learning how to play a song so you can be a living room rock star fantasy to mastering something as complex as an instrument itself. To this end, Fuser is more a tool set than a new fake instrument, asking you to create rather than replicate, even if the playset is still songs you recognise. With festivals taking a bit of time off, maybe the next set will see a few new faces, spinning Dua Lipa into A-Ha.