Thoughts: Touching Sound, A Documentary On The DJ Max Technika Arcade Game

arcadehero April 1, 2017 1
Thoughts: Touching Sound, A Documentary On The DJ Max Technika Arcade Game

A Brief History Of DJ Max Technika

In covering arcades here on this blog since 2007, I’ve seen a lot of games come and go over the course of time. Likewise in operating an arcade since 2008, I’ve owned numerous games, some of which I end up selling after a while for different reasons.

The arcade title DJ Max Technika was first mentioned on this site back in 2008 when the game showed up for a location test in South Korea and later in the United States. Developed by PM Studios and subsequently Pentavision, it pioneered the way for touchscreen rhythm gaming on the arcade market along with pushing online features at a time that such a thing was only being done with games that were popular in bars like Golden Tee or Big Buck.

The first version of the game was released to the States in June 2009 and the game would enjoy two sequels, frequent online updates and a loyal fanbase. I was interested in the game for my arcade although finances at the time made it difficult to jump on the bandwagon; I was really looking forward to the DJ Max Technika 2 Solo machine that was shown off at a trade but never came into being.

The ‘hype train’ for DJMT came to an end when the online services for the game were shuttered on Dec. 31st 2013. Afterwards it was clear that there would be no more updates to 3 and certainly no DJMT4.

Touching Sound: The Technika Documentary

Every game has a story to tell, even more so when it generates that aforementioned fanbase. To document both the history of DJ Max Technika, the people behind it and the players, Nicholas Dobkin began the development of a documentary film called Touching Sound back in 2014. After running a successful Kickstarter, gathering footage and interviews from locations across the USA, the people involved with the game as well as with players from South Korea and even Indonesia, the film is now complete and ready to begin showing at film festivals in the US and Canada.

I had the privilege of watching a pre-release sneak preview of Touching Sound; here are some brief thoughts about it. I’ll try not to spoil too much here as that’s no fun. I should also acknowledge that Arcade Heroes is mentioned in the special thanks as we helped spread word about the Kickstarter for this back in 2015. I’m happy to see that this was able to achieve the funding goals.

I’ll start by saying that if the subject matter of game development, arcade gaming or rhythm gaming is of interest to you then I would recommend this. Obviously this is for a niche but I think that with an interest in any of those subjects you can find some entertainment and/or interest from this. It is a straight documentary and not dramatized like The King of Kong but that is fine by me; not every documentation effort needs that particular kind of flare to make it interesting. Instead, Touching Sound blends the history of how the game was created, how it works and how it affected the lives of certain players. This not only touches on friendships but serious relationships that led to marriages in a few cases. It was this focus that touched on the nature of arcade culture that I really enjoyed seeing and also gets into the unique idea of “roulette play” that I am not aware of happening with other games.

Techinka 2 was a crowd pleaser at the loctest

Part of that arcade culture aspect that they also hit on was how newcomers reacted to the game. This angle that they captured was my favorite aspect of the entire thing as it is more effective to capture initial reactions to that first-time experience as opposed to recollections of the event years later. I’ll leave it at that for you to see how it went but that was a brilliant idea that sets it apart from other game documentaries I have seen.

The film itself is an hour and 15 minutes long, shot in HD and the cut that will be shown at big events will have a theater sound mix. I watched it in a noisy arcade on my computer with headphones so I might have missed something here and there in the audio department but it looked and sounded fine to me. They had a lot more footage to use but I think it was wise to cut it down for general consumption. The extras is what special features are for.

They get into why the game was effectively ended so that will be answered; but they also show how life went on afterwards.

If I were to criticize anything, it would be to show a little bit more of the current market growth that arcade have been seeing over the past few years. It’s not all phone games coming to big screen but that’s just a nitpick of mine that isn’t widely shared 😉

Overall, if you are a casual or hardcore DJMT player then this documentary will be essential viewing; for more general arcade gamers I think it would be a satisfying watch.

As mentioned, Touching Sound is seeking out public events such as film festivals and comic cons to spread the word and such a thing is not free to do. I have to apologize in this article coming in a little late as they were seeking funding by the end of March. I believe that you can still help out however by clicking here. A Facebook page for the project can be found here.

When a general release for Touching Sound is available, we’ll be sure to mention it!


One Comment »

  1. Sid seattle April 2, 2017 at 6:31 pm - Reply

    I’m running a retro arcade tourney event at zapcon 5 this year. I can probably get “touching sound” played in the “movie room” zapcon 5..if that would be what you’d be looking for with the film.

    Sid seattle

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