The biggest gameplay differentiator for "Scratch: The Ultimate DJ" is an emphasis on users manipulating music to make it their own, and while the concept freaked out record labels, sheer persistence -- and "Guitar Hero" -- made it possible.
"Scratch: The Ultimate DJ" takes a different approach than "Rock Band" or "Guitar Hero" and places less emphasis on imitating music note-for-note and encouraging users to branch out and organically change the song as it develops.
User generated remixes were a no-no to record labels at first, "Scratch" creative lead Dan Lehrich told me during a hands-off demo of the game yesterday.
"Scratch" comes bundled with hundreds of built-in samples for wanna-be DJs to remix the game's music to, but more ambitious musicians can plug in a USB microphone and record their own sets of samples. The possibilities are endless.
So endless, in fact, labels pushed back at first.
"They're really concerned about people making new music out of this existing music in this game," explained Lehrich. "To be able to let people record their own samples and then remix the song -- which his what they [the record labels] are thinking [our game is about] -- and turn it into a new song and somehow put it online and make a lot of money off it."
Eventually, enough meetings, lawyers and technology demos helped record labels understand what "Scratch" was going for, but Genius Products VP Michael Rubinelli also thanked those who'd come before them for making it all possible.
"Without 'Guitar Hero' and 'Rock Band,' we probably wouldn't have been allowed to this at all," said Rubinelli. "Had we tried to do this in advance of doing what they did, there's just no way. It would have been completely impossible."
We didn't play "Scratch" yet, but we did watch someone play it.