Like those packets of bacon that come with sandwich-destroying pictures of the farms the meat originated from, it would be interesting if annual videogame releases carried some sort of visual insight into the mental health of their development teams.
DJ Hero wouldn't be doing at all bad, by the looks of it. One game in, and Freestyle still seems to be running on genuine enthusiasm - the designers haven't fallen out of love with the music yet, and they're still managing to wring new ideas from the established mechanics.
Sure, you can't help wondering if the DJ developers shoot occasional glances over at the Guitar Hero 8 (9? 10?) stand on the other side of the room and suffer nightmare premonitions of the Ghost of Christmases Yet To Come. But so far, the plastic turntable business appears to be treating them well.
DJ Hero 2 takes a distinctly Apple-like approach to iteration. The first game laid down the framework and now the second is adding slight - but extremely desirable - extras. Presumably this means the third DJ Hero will be super fast, and the fourth will be left in a bar somewhere and sold to a man from Gizmodo.
It's a conservative update, then, but quite a promising one. The single-player takes on a bit more shape with the addition of Empire mode - this is essentially a very light campaign structure that sees you rising through the ranks from rhythmless nobody to club-owning DJ superstar nobody - but the bulk of the additions are about coming up with new ways to play with others.
DJ Hero 2 is a far more sociable game than the original, a trend that is visible most obviously in its use of the microphone. Singing was supported in the first game, but it was volunteer work, a bit like helping out at Boy Scouts or, a few years from now, ganging up to run your local comprehensive.
In the sequel, the vocal tracks are now fully marked up and scored: it's a proper part of the game. Because of the range of songs you'll be performing, and because of the fact that you don't really sing rap and hip-hop (I wish someone had told me this before the night I debuted alongside Warren G at the Viper Rooms), Freestyle's game detects the beat and rhythm of your performance as well as pitch.
The developers have doubled the ways in which you can suck, in other words. DJ Hero 2 aims to be compatible with all gaming microphones, but will draw the line if the tech isn't up to it, meaning your laggier hardware - such as Lips - won't make the grade if it can't do the job properly.
With two turntablists and a singer plugging away, it's clear that the slightly insular world of the DJ can work quite well in a social setting, but a range of new modes should help seal the deal.
Party play comes across from Guitar Hero, promising drop-in and drop-out co-op for up to three players without breaking the flow of the game. Elsewhere, Freestyle additions allow you to mix, scratch and sample freely at specific points in a track, opening up the field for creative competition.
Samples are now song-specific rather than generic across all offerings, freestyle crossfading will give you control of the game's racing line for certain sections of a tune, while scratching benefits from the same technology powering the game's improved voice recognition, meaning it can score your efforts even when you go off the map by judging how rhythmic your playing is.
Beyond that there will be new competitive modes, ranging from the likes of Accumulator, which sees you choosing when to 'bank' your streaks during a song, creating a meaty piece of risky strategising as you psych out your opponent, to things like Checkpoint races, which carve each track into discrete sections and task you with winning more of them than your rival.
The main event, however, promises to be the DJ Battle: a call-and-response game for two players that comes into its own when those freestyle sections pop up.
Musically, DJ Hero 2 is expanding outwards in terms of influences, finding room for everyone from Lady Gaga to the likes of Chemical Bros, Kanye West, and Dr Dre, while Deadmau5 takes on something of a starring role, as both a brand new playable character and a creative force behind some of the mixes.
With over 85 artists and 70 distinct mash-ups, variety shouldn't be too much of a problem - unless you're hoping to hear the Goldberg Variations colliding with Stealer's Wheel. (There's always DJ Hero 3, though.)
There's no word yet on price - though Freestyle's hinting that you can expect it to be significantly lower this time - and the developer has yet to announce its policy on DLC transfers, although it is willing to say that you won't be able to put DJ Hero 1 songs into the second game on launch day and have the vocals already marked up for your microphone pleasure.
For a little less than a year's work, it's not a bad suite of features. DJ Hero 2 won't be the most drastic update, perhaps, but it promises to be a nice embellishment of the template. If the series goes the way of Guitar Hero, however, Freestyle's going to have to pull out something far more radical in the years ahead. This was always going to be the easy sequel - the next ones will be a lot harder to justify.
DJ Hero 2 is due out for PS3, Wii and Xbox 360 this autumn.