Guitar Hero

For those about to rock, we salute you - AC/DC

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My gamer self is mostly moribund. Her thumbs have atrophied, her hand-eye coordination has diminished, and even a fine party game like MarioKart can hardly hold her attention long enough to complete a race.

But now she has awakened. A game has called her name with irresistible dulcet tones, summoning her to the living room, guiding her to pick up the controller, and whispering into the curved hollows of her ears, "It's time to rock out."

That game is Guitar Hero.

Guitar Hero rocks. It rocks hard, and it makes you believe that you can rock too. It says, "Here, pick up this guitar. You and me, we are going to rock down the house."
The game comes with its own controller, a guitar-shaped thing about the size of a ukulele, with five fret buttons up on the neck and a strum lever and whammy bar on the body. There are also the obligatory "start" and "select" buttons, but you can't rock with those, so forget them. The three-stage tutorial guides you through the basics of playing notes and chords, hammering-on and pulling-off, and then turns you loose on the catalogue of classic guitar rock waiting for you and your diminutive plastic axe.

You can go straight to Free Play which has a few of the songs available for you to play right away and allows you to switch between Easy, Medium, Hard and Extra Hard whenever you choose. In order to access more than the first five songs however, you will have to take on Career mode, in which you work your way up the ranks of posers, playing in sleazy bars and clubs until you emerge as the true Guitar Hero, rocking out to a stadium of thousands. The game offers the choice of six characters and three guitars, but so far as I can tell, these are purely cosmetic details.

I started a career in Easy mode after watching Shawn struggle through the middle of Medium and was glad that I had. Unless your fingers are unusually nimble from, uh, whatever activities you pursue that build nimble fingers, I'd recommend that you start there too. Guitar Hero has a pretty well designed learning curve but things get hard fast in Medium and I was grateful for the grounding that Easy had given me.

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The basic gameplay is this: notes descend from the top of the screen and when they get to the bottom, you play them. The audio track of your playing registers missed or flubbed notes with screeches and plinks and correct notes with glorious, glorious rock. There are two meters on either side of the screen. One shows how much the audience likes your performance and the other shows your score for the song, which tallies as you play. There are a couple ways to boost your score. Enough correct notes in a row will give you a multiplier bonus which can be boosted again by using your Star Power.

Ah, Star Power. Possibly my favorite aspect of Guitar Hero. Some notes are special, marked with stars around them. If you correctly play a sequence of these notes they add to the Star Power bar on top of the audience meter. When you fill up the meter you can activate your Star Power by tilting your guitar upright and pointing it at the ceiling. This is important for two reasons: activating Star Power doubles whatever multiplier currently active on your score meter AND makes the audience love you. This can be a lifesaver when you start to lose it on a difficult song and the audience is starting to boo. Jack that sucker up at the rafters and suddenly you are sex on wheels all over again, baby.

Brace yourself - you get reviewed at the end of each performance. Your percentage of notes played and your score out of five stars pops up on a background of a newspaper article about your show. Once you get into Medium difficulty you also get paid for each show. Better performances mean better money, which you can spend on new songs, new guitars and new characters. You can also buy videos. Of what, I don't know. I've been too busy rocking out for that crap, man. I'm all about the music, you know?

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And what music. Guitar Hero features thirty songs from some of the hardest rockers known to man. They are all guitar rock standards, starting with Joan Jett's "I Love Rock and Roll," and ending with the truly insane "Cowboys from Hell" by Pantera. My favorite is "Take Me Out," Franz Ferdinand, although "Smoke on the Water" and "Ziggy Stardust" are also a lot of fun to rip through. In addition to the more famous tunes that you unlock as you progress through Career Mode, you can also purchase 17 indie tracks. This was a smart and frankly awesome thing for RedOctane to do. They get some kickin' songs for cheap and the indie bands get some great publicity.

I love Guitar Hero. I love the stupid guitar-shaped controller, I love the cheesy cartoonish graphics and the clichéd rock-star posturing and I love the whole concept of Star Power, which is that if you have enough style you can make the audience forget that you suck.

Most of all I love the finely tuned, sharply honed sense that I am, in fact, rocking out. This becomes more pronounced as you move into more difficult songs and harder modes but it is present from the very start, right from the first song in Easy Mode. You feel ridiculous standing there with the little plastic guitar strung around your neck...and then you play that first note and you feel like a f*cking rock star, man. Yeah.

For those who made it possible for me to rock, I salute you.

Licensed songs, and the bands that made them famous:

• Motorhead - "Ace of Spades"
• Ozzie Osbourne - "Bark at the Moon"
• Audioslave - "Cochise"
• Pantera - "Cowboys From Hell"
• Cream - "Crossroads"
• Sum 41 - "Fat Lip"
• Edgar Winter Group - "Frankenstein"
• Blue Oyster Cult - "Godzilla"
• Burning Brides - "Heart Full of Black"
• The Exies - "Hey You"
• Red Hot Chili Peppers - "Higher Ground"
• Joann Jett - "I Love Rock and Roll"
• The Ramones - "I Wanna Be Sedated"
• Bad Religion - "Infected"
• Black Sabbath - "Iron Man"
• Queen - "Killer Queen"
• Boston - "More Than A Feeling"
• Queens of the Stone Age - "No One Knows"
• ZZ Top - "Sharp Dressed Man"
• Deep Purple - "Smoke on the Water"
• Jimi Hendrix - "Spanish Castle Magic"
• Incubus - "Stellar"
• Megadeth - "Symphony of Destruction"
• The Donnas - "Take It Off"
• Franz Ferdinand - "Take Me Out"
• Stevie Ray Vaughn - "Texas Flood"
• White Zombie - "Thunderkiss 65"
• Helmet - "Unsung"
• Judas Priest - "You Got Another Thing Comin"
• David Bowie - "Ziggy Stardust"

Indie tracks:

• Acro-Brats - "Call Out"
• Anarchy Club - "Behind the Mask"
• Artillery - "The Breaking Wheel"
• Black Label Society - "Fire It Up"
• Count Zero - "Sail Your Ship By"
• Din - "Fly on the Wall"
• Drist - "Decontrol"
• Freezepop - "Get Ready 2 Rock"
• Graveyard BBQ - "Cheat on the Church"
• Honest Bob and the Factory-to-Dealer Incentives - "Hey"
• Made in Mexico - "Farewell Myth"
• Monkey Steal the Peach - "Theme from Guitar Hero"
• The Bags - "Caveman Rejoice"
• The Model Sons - "The Story of my Love"
• The Slip - "Even Rats"
• The Upper Crust - "Eureka! I Found Love"
• Shaimus - "All of This"

Guitar Hero
http://www.guitarherogame.com/
Nov. 2005 (PS2)
Harmonix
RedOctane

Comments

I too spent ridiculous amounts of time playing GH on Christmas day. First I played a little 2-player with my girlfriend and then my brother (I'm too wise in the ways of GWJ to say "my girlfriend and brother"). Then we wanted more songs, so I beat the game on Easy. Then of course I had to start in on Medium.

Am I the only one who thinks playing some of this stuff on GH is harder than in real life?

Also, just wanted to say that, imho, knowing how to play the song in real life / being really familiar with the song is a big help. I seem to do much better on my first attempts of songs that I can actually play on guitar.

Yeah, if you know the "patterns" of the song, you can catch up again after screwing up in an area where it surprised you.

I started out some of the songs on Medium, and boy was that fun. A real challenge, especially with all the power chords and that damn blue key popping up. I have no idea how I will continue to function once I hit the orange key songs.

But the sense of accomplishment at finishing a tough song and getting the high score is palpable. I love this game with an unnatural passion. And me a strategy gamer!

Having a working knowledge of a song is certainly a tremendous help. Being able to play the song on a real guitar is even better

As I go through the game, I notice that the motions you are required to use resemble those which would be required to play a genuine guitar - particularly once you use all the frets. What else I notice is that my hand hurts quite often. Just like learning to play a real guitar! Some of the unsigned bands I really like. I've tried to hunt down a few albums, but some are not out, and some may not be coming out (being unsigned, and all).

I am pleased that music pattern games are starting to be released for a more mainstream crowd; I've never liked DDR - I always felt I looked silly when I failed miserably at it. Now, I look even sillier I'd wager, and without the excersize benefit!

I dunno, I'm moving around a lot playing this, trying to play notes with body English. My calves feel it, in addition to my hands.

I finished the game on Easy, and when you get to Medium, you get paid for performances, and you can buy stuff from the "unlock shop". So I'm bullish on new songs, and really liking them. Some of those bands deserve to make it big.

A friend got this for me for Christmas, and it is awesome. The only thing I'd say is that we had four people playing and two of us were much better than the other two (we were also the more regular video game players, if that matters). The other two got a bit frustrated as the songs got harder and stopped playing, but my friend and I are still going strong. We just finished the first iteration of Bark at the Moon, which was freaking tough. He has that problem where his pinky doesn't want to obey his commands. Fortunately, all those years of piano lessons seem to have paid off for me. Finally!

Yeah, me and my friend's fiancee are the best. She's a DDR wizard, so that's no surprise. My wife does well, and my son is trying hard. He enjoys it even if he tanks, seems like.

This is a fantastic party game, people can take turns, and then do multiplayer when they feel like challenging someone. And even a good player can get tripped up if they distracted.

Anyone have a good solution for the really fast sequential runs? (The yellow red green sequences right on top of each other). I think I'm gonna try sliding a finger over them, but how can I strum that fast and still hit the notes? I think it'll take a bit of work. If I have to just hit them with each finger and hit the strum, well, that's gonna take some work.

My brother was as good as his word and brought the Guitar Hero and the PS2 to Mom's on Saturday. We played for hours. It was without a doubt the absolute best time I've ever had playing any game. That is all.

Robear wrote:

Anyone have a good solution for the really fast sequential runs? (The yellow red green sequences right on top of each other). I think I'm gonna try sliding a finger over them, but how can I strum that fast and still hit the notes? I think it'll take a bit of work. If I have to just hit them with each finger and hit the strum, well, that's gonna take some work.

Seems like when they get really fast, especially when there're a series of five or more, you pretty much have to get used to strumming down and up, instead of just down. I know that took me some getting used to. Otherwise, some of those really fast sequences become tougher to hit than they really should be.

Well, as I was in the middle of finally beating Crossroads (if I ever meet the guitarist for Cream I'll break his fingers) I got a "Rocking out too hard" message. Confused, I looked down and saw that the pooch had accidentally eaten through the cord. It looks like Guitar Hero is done for here in Valhalla...

I've now unlocked the final tier of songs on Medium (includes Bark at the Moon, Cowboys From Hell, some SRV, etc.). Even the EASY Cowboys From Hell ain't that easy.

The harder the song gets, in some ways, the more like playing a real song it is. On the other hang, some of the songs are harder in the game than real life. "Unsung" is a good example. It's one of my all-time favorite songs, and I can play most of it on guitar - definitely easier in real life. For one thing, it's really in "dropped-D" tuning, which means all the chords are played with one finger. And in GH there is no analog for open notes (notes where you hit the string without fretting it anywhere), so that adds some complexity.

I'm totally lucking my way through some songs on Medium, in some cases ignoring certain frets and just figuring I'll get all the "red" and "yellow" notes, and that will be enough to keep me in the game. It usually is.

If you haven't done the "Advanced Techniques" tutorial yet, it ought to help with some of the faster stuff. I think you have to do the other tutorials first to unlock it.

Robear wrote:

Anyone have a good solution for the really fast sequential runs? (The yellow red green sequences right on top of each other). I think I'm gonna try sliding a finger over them, but how can I strum that fast and still hit the notes? I think it'll take a bit of work. If I have to just hit them with each finger and hit the strum, well, that's gonna take some work.

You need to do the tutorial on "hammer downs and pull-offs." Basically you hit the fret buttons while holding the strummer instead of strumming for each note. Theoretically this will let you do the super fast stuff more easily.

DrunkenSleipnir wrote:

... (if I ever meet the guitarist for Cream I'll break his fingers) ...

You're kidding, right? Dude, a severed guitar cord is your karmic reward for not recognizing Clapton. There's a reason he's considered one of the greatest guitarists alive. That song is hard. Consider yourself chastened by the universe, and go buy a new controller.

Are the tutorials very helpful? I keep meaning to look at them, but keep not getting around to it, cause I want to play the game

What's all this about holding the stummer down?

Yeah, thanks Strekos, I had forgotten about that 3rd tutorial. Just did it. Really tough for my poor little fingers to learn, but they are working on it. Hopefully I won't have to crush one to get the others to put out, but hey, that's rock and roll for ya.

All I can say is I got halfway through Medium without knowing how to do those. That's gotta count for something more than paint-peeling language...

Best. Multiplayer. Ever.

Robear wrote:

Yeah, thanks Strekos, I had forgotten about that 3rd tutorial. Just did it. Really tough for my poor little fingers to learn, but they are working on it. Hopefully I won't have to crush one to get the others to put out, but hey, that's rock and roll for ya.

All I can say is I got halfway through Medium without knowing how to do those. That's gotta count for something more than paint-peeling language... :-)

Thats how the game is suppose to go. The advanced tutorial says put a couple of hours into the game and easy does not take a couple of hours.

To add to everything Robear has said.....He has been rocking out all day while I've been at work. I have alot of catch up

My God, this game rocks. I want to thank you all from the bottom of my heart for, unbeknownst to you, convincing me to go buy it. I already can't wait for a sequel, or some knock-offs.

Now, I want to have a bank vault installed in my apartment so that I can bust it open with a righteous riff while playing "Breakin' The Law", just like in the Judas Priest video.

I agree with Edwin that you don't really need hammer-ons and pull-offs for most of Medium. There are a couple of places where they are convenient.

By the way, just in case anyone hasn't noticed, when the game wants to suggest using one of those two, the little "bump" (whatever you want to call the things that tell you what note to play and when) looks different - I think the center white circle (or nipple, if you will) is outlined in light grey rather than black.

Fedaykin98 wrote:

The harder the song gets, in some ways, the more like playing a real song it is. On the other hang, some of the songs are harder in the game than real life.

Agreed. I know how to play some of the songs in real life, it's weird that some of them are harder on Guitar Hero. Some of it is what you mentioned, and cord plucking, but some of it I'll have chalk it up to cognitive dissonance.

So what's your band name? I was in pirate mood, so my rockin' band is GARR!!! (yes all three ! are required)

What did everyone name their band? I move randomly between "One eyed Pirates" and "Ninja Pirates".

Fletcher wrote:
w00t. You are now my favorite brother.

Finally!

GWJ bringing families together since awhile ago

I called my band "B C" because I started playing with my GF and those are our first initials. I won't be offended if you throw up now.

Finally, a bemani game I can beat her at!

Fedaykin98 wrote:

I called my band "B C" because I started playing with my GF and those are our first initials. I won't be offended if you throw up now.

Done and done. When you two rock, who gets to hold the testicles?

I keed, I keed. I'd love for my wife to pick up the axe and rock with me.

I feel like I've just painted the Mona Lisa.

Bought the game this afternoon at (checking the receipt) 14:02. It is now 22:55 and I've just gotten through Iron Man on medium, scoring 5 stars and 114097 points. I've played through Easy and had a blast!

I saw this game on the shelf for $60 bucks. I haven't stopped smiling all afternoon/evening (except when the GF came over and told me about the troubles she's having with her mortgage company and when we decided to watch west wing over pizza. Goddamn Leo. Being dead. How inconsiderate. ) GREAT GAME!

I got the black and white thingamajig with sort of a burnt umber fretthingy. I Love the little doohickey that lets you twist the sound just like they do on da music-box!

I showed it to my girlfriend and insisted on a high-five after every success.

Reminders for self:
The rocker works both ways. Remember that when the notes are coming fast and furious.
Play through Easy mode again with your middle finger on green. My pinky apparently needs the workout!
Find the corresponding songs on MP3 and rock out to them because they rock! Also, it sucks to lose the rhythm because the song does something unexpected.

GREAT GAME!

Also, it sucks to lose the rhythm because the _____ does something unexpected.

Cleared the medium difficulty last night: I am now a Guitar Legend! Even though I only managed 3 stars at 'Bark at the Moon' and felt like I coasted on star power with some of the hard passages, but the point is that I did it! I'll toy around on medium for a while still in order to improve some of my scores, but man, I'm just so happy I managed to complete 'Bark at the Moon' it's not even funny. It's been a while since I've felt this sense of accomplishment from a game!

Plus, I'm obviously getting better at the game since I'm scoring five stars with songs that killed me a week or so ago.

Oh, and my band name: Wyld Stallyns.

Rezzy wrote:

we decided to watch west wing over pizza. Goddamn Leo. Being dead. How inconsiderate.

I know I'm totally behind since I am watching Season 1 right now, but

THANKS FOR THE F***ING SPOILERS, REZZY!!!

=)

Fedaykin98 wrote:
Rezzy wrote:

we decided to watch west wing over pizza. Goddamn Leo. Being dead. How inconsiderate.

I know I'm totally behind since I am watching Season 1 right now, but

THANKS FOR THE F***ING SPOILERS, REZZY!!!

=)

Stop spazzing. He means the actor's dead.

dhaelis wrote:

Oh, and my band name: Wyld Stallyns. :D

Excellent!

KaterinLHC wrote:
Fedaykin98 wrote:
Rezzy wrote:

we decided to watch west wing over pizza. Goddamn Leo. Being dead. How inconsiderate.

I know I'm totally behind since I am watching Season 1 right now, but

THANKS FOR THE F***ING SPOILERS, REZZY!!!

=)

Stop spazzing. He means the actor's dead.

Sorry, I should have made that clearer. I don't think of him as John Spencer... in my head he is Leo first. Leo who happens to be played by an actor.
Sometimes, when CNN gets me down, I like to pretend that the Bartlet administration is alive and well, and that everything is going to be okay.

In thread related news: I seem to have hit something of a skill-plateau. I'm having difficulty advancing, and in a fit of frustration decided to try Iron Man on hard, just to see just how 'Bad' I really am. I Freaking ROCKED the first few minutes. Then that fifth fret button started showing up in descending scales... then the crowds realized that before them stood not a Rock God, but rather a confused 26 year old in his jammies holding a plastic toy making screeching noises.

I'm taking a lunch/paying bills break and then running through the advanced tutorial. Maybe there I will find some pointers!

EDIT I should also point out that I'm only on Season 3 of West Wing. I believe RL is on Season 7? So don't 'fret' too much, don't be afraid to get attached. He IS that good.