Coming home from my parents house today, having failed miserably to fix their super-infected work computer, I had the strange urge to turn on the old PS2, fire up some original Guitar Hero, and see if I could play that one song in expert that I never could finish (Answer: Yes I can). It was a bit weird going back to the original source of what has become the most expensive genre of my gaming habit. In a lot of ways, it simply doesn't hold up to what's gone and replaced it, but at the same time I was struck by how much fun it still is. The essence of what made that first game so much fun still holds true for all the games it has spawned, which at current tally makes for a grand total of 11 different games (12 if we count the 360 version of Guitar Hero 2 as separate), with four others officially announced as in development to be released this year.

That's a lot of games, and certainly one could make an argument for oversaturation. Personally I think I own all of them cept two: Guitar Hero Rock the 80s, cause it was mostly covers, only had 30 songs but cost 50 bucks, and was released as PS2 only at a point where that was just a dumb business decision. Oh, and Guitar Hero: Metallica, cause that just came out and, uh, I don't know. The difficulty would be incredibly punishing and I'm not sure I see Colure wanting to scream like James Hetfield. Would probably be like that time Avril Lavigne performed a cover of Fuel.

At current count I believe there are two plastic drumsets two USBs microphones, and a whopping seven plastic guitars sprawled across our apartment, meaning I own more fake instruments than actual ones. I think it's safe to say that I love these games, and after doing some thinking, I've found 5 good reasons why.

1) Because Rhythm Games are Cool - I like music, I like games. The combination is pretty natural. But throw in a fake plastic instrument? Now you're really talking. I mean, it's one thing to interact with music via a controller, but instead of pressing buttons... wouldn't you rather hit stuff? Or rock out? You can't rock out with a controller. That's like one step removed from trying to rock a keytar. Better to go with something that looks like a legitimate instrument. To quote Steven Tyler, “Fake it 'til you make it!”

2) Fosters Interest in Music – I really can't think of a better way to get kids to have an interest in playing real instruments. I've heard before that some people are afraid that this'll replace the need some kids have to pick up a real guitar and learn it, but I think that's completely bull. If anything this game just fosters the desire for you to have a real band. Plus it can be a great teaching method, not for guitar so much, but for drums and singing. Especially drums. Do you know how many painful hours I could have avoided trying to teach friends how to play the drums if I had had Rock Band growing up? Some of them might have actually been legitimate successes for Christ's sake!

3) It's Easier then Getting the Band Back Together –A lot of us had bands in high school, and maybe into college. Maybe you're still friends with them and it's a fun idea to get them all together again and do a little playing. But let's be honest: Equipment's a huge pain to luge around, no one remembers the same songs, the microphone's broke, your singer's still a primadonna, and truth be told you probably weren't that great to begin with. But throw on Rock Band and you can all come together without all the hassles and recrimination – or even replace out members if your old group is a little too hard to recruit/would be violating restraining orders to see.

4) Best use of Downloadable Content to Date – Maybe not Guitar Hero so much (which prefers to release millions of games), but Rock Band has seriously used downloadable content better than any other game yet. Both games have transcended from being just fun distractions to full on platforms, providing you with tons of options for how you'd like to customize your experience, while at the same time giving musicians barrels upon barrels of money. It's a great system for everyone involved, and as a result I've spent much more time playing Rock Band 1 & 2 than any other game like it. I've also spent a ton of money, but honestly? Totally worth every cent.

5) Because it Makes You Feel like a Rock Star - Looks, let's face facts: Most people have jobs which are fairly boring the majority of the time. You might like it alright, but come on now; Everyone wants a chance to feel like a rock star. And these games let you do it, without even having any musical ability. One of the reasons I rebelled against Guitar Hero 3 so much was because it included “boss battles” - which to me is antithetical to the whole point of these games. You want less reminders that you're playing a video game, not more game clich├ęs. And for the most part, especially in the latest Rock Band, they've really embraced that concept of being an avenue to living out a musical fantasy. In other words, it's a hell of a lot better then jumping around your garage doing air guitar.

I could easily write a lot more than 5 reasons why I think these games are so awesome, but honestly? I think I'd rather just go play some Rock Band and get myself psyched up for the LEGO version coming out later this year...

Posted by Kevin on 6:26 PM


Colure said...

OMG you really think I would sound anything like Avril?? I'm kind of offended, not gonna lie... ;p

Also, I can't believe you put that picture of me in here ;p Or rather, BOTH of those pictures of me. UGH.

I do, however, applaud your use of the Rock Band Omegathon round from PAX'08 :D

Kevin said...

All I'm saying is Metallica... not you ;)

Yes well I'm fairly happy with all the pictures, your self-conscious nature aside ;)

Lindsey Hein KPACTP said...

I love Rock Band! I'm going to make Josh play it with me right now.

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