Are You A Guitar Hero?
A Video Game...A Way Of Life
While at the grocery store Monday night, I purchased a box of Frosted Mini Wheats. It was a total impulse buy. Now I do enjoy this cereal, but I didn't buy it for that reason. I had been walking quickly with my head straight forward, but something caught my eye from the side...the Guitar Hero symbol! Yes. Frosted Mini Wheats, for a limited time, is offering a Guitar Hero toy in their cereal. How cool is that? For the first time in a long time, paying nearly five dollars for a box of cereal made sense to me. Feeling like a kid again, I just had to have my prize.
I own four of the five PS2 version Guitar Hero games. Though I rarely get to play GH, when I do get the chance, I play for hours, not even realizing that time is passing. It's a highly addictive game. I suggest you clear your schedule for the day when you're going to play, especially for your first time "on stage."
My favorite game of the series is the first one. It might be that I'm sentimental, but I feel like it's a much better game. I like the characters more (Why isn't Clive Winston a character option beyond the second game?). The setlist is amazing (Ziggy Stardust-David Bowie, Killer Queen- Queen, Smoke On The Water-Deep Purple, Spanish Castle Magic- Jimi Hendrix...I could go on and on and on.). Unlike with the other games, no famous guitarist comes to challenge you to a guitar duel. Other people might argue that this guitar battle makes for a more exciting game, but I think it detracts from it. How can you enjoy playing the music if you're wondering when the pesky famous person is going to come along and make you feel like you're playing an ordinary video game? If you enjoy competition, the game also offers a section where you can challenge a friend to play against you. I think that kind of a challenge is fun. The first game looks and feels more rough than the rest of the series. When comparing the graphics of each game to the next, its evident that better creation software was used each time. However, I like the imperfection of the first game. It feels more real to me like a new band performing their first set, lots of passion and creativity, but still plenty of room for improvement.
In my opinion, the second and third games are very similar. There are two more modes than the first game: multi-player (You play guitar. Your friend accompanies you on the bass.) and practice mode. Except for the omission of my beloved Clive in the third game, the characters are about the same. As stated earlier, the graphics improve with each game. Highlights from the GH 2 set-list are: Can't You Hear Me Knockin-Rolling Stones, Carry On Wayward Son- Kansas, You Really Got Me- Van Halen, Message In A Bottle- The Police. Highlights from the GH 3 setlist are: Knights of Cydonia- Muse, Rock and Roll All Night- Kiss, School's Out- Alice Cooper, Black Magic Woman- Santana. The only major difference between the two games is that GH 3 has a story line that goes along with the career mode.
Now I bought the previous three games used and received a substantial discount. When I bought Guitar Hero Aerosmith, I paid the full price. I kept waiting for a used copy to become available, but I grew very impatient. I had been dying to play this game since it was first announced to be in production. This game is very similar to GH 3 expect for the obvious difference that it centers on Aerosmith. The bulk of the playlist (2/3) is comprised of Aerosmith songs with the remainder being songs from bands who were either influenced by Aerosmith or opened for them (Cheap Trick, Joan Jett, The Kinks and The Clash to name a few.) What I like most about this game is that the members of the band tell you stories, between sets, about how they came to rise to fame. The game has been criticized as being too short and easy to beat and I agree. It only took me an hour to finish the easy level where as the other games had me playing for the bulk of the afternoon.
I've yet to try out Guitar Hero World Tour, but it is on my to do list. From what I've heard, it's a great game and I look forward to trying it out. The only down side to it is that you have to purchase more "instruments" to play it. Yes. I do realize that you don't need every instrument to play the game. However, to get the full feel of it, you do. You can't do vocals or percussion on a guitar.
The Guitar Hero series is a very popular one and that's easy to understand. While it can't replace the feeling you get when you play on a real instrument, being told after each song that "You're A Guitar Hero" isn't too bad for the self-esteem. Ranging from $45-$60 for the game alone, I feel that price is rather steep. (I can't imagine how a parent can afford to buy their child the games let alone the "instruments" and other memorabilia. I know I wouldn't have received the game from my parents.) However,if you wait long enough, you can get a copy for a more reasonable $20.
My biggest hope pertaining to this game is that it will inspire children and adults to try to learn a real instrument. With school music programs to be cut first in times of economic crisis, it would nice if children continued to grow musically out of school. Studies have shown that there is a connection between playing an instrument and getting good grades in school. I guess that explains why there are so many "band geeks" on the honor roll.
Whether you are in or out of school, 8 or 800, I hope you'll give the game a chance. It is a lot of fun and a great way to improve your hand-eye coordination. I do suggest that you take breaks in between sets though. Yes. Peeing and eating are worth taking a break for. If you live with others (spouse, partner, family members, pets, etc.) it might be a good idea to show them you care and say hello during said break. While you may see yourself as "Guitar Hero Supreme", they may only see you as "that jerk who would rather play a video game than spend time with me." Also, you should stretch your hands often because they do tend to hurt and tighten up after a chunk of playing. Besides these things, enjoy the game. Don't be too embarrassed to strut your stuff.
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