The lights are on
I clearly remember my first time playing Guitar Hero. I had only been at Game Informer for a couple of years in 2005, and I’d made it clear to my co-workers that I had an intense enthusiasm for all those quirky Japanese music games. I also adored the work from a little developer called Harmonix, who had crafted my favorite music game to date: Amplitude. I embraced the trance-like state I’d fall into as I played the game, desperately tapping buttons in time with the beats and switching back and forth between tracks.
Guitar Hero would eventually become a phenomenon with cultural awareness that reached far beyond the gamer community, but when we first heard the name here in the Game Informer office, it was a hard sell. A toy guitar? The niche music game genre? The game didn’t exactly scream success.
Nonetheless, the guys from Red Octane and Harmonix had come to Minneapolis in the summer of 2005 to try and start pre-selling units to some of the big box stores. After they managed to make a few thousand sales (big news for them at the time, if I recall), it seemed to them like a good idea to start doing some press coverage. Game Informer happened to be nearby. On short notice, and largely because we’d heard Harmonix was attached to the project, we accepted the meeting.
Later that day, Guitar Hero was in our office, and the guitar was in my hands. That first guitar controller from Red Octane felt small and chintzy, and the bright, colorful buttons seemed childish and more than a little silly. Nonetheless, the instrument did its job, and I was eager to see how it all worked.
My love affair began as the first notes began scrolling vertically along the screen, and I flipped that little switch to “strum” the note. The song was “More Than A Feeling” by Boston. As those first delicate notes of the intro sounded, playing on Medium I was convinced I was absurdly awesome, an analysis that subsequent months would prove ridiculous as I escalated in difficulty. Each note passed the strum bar, and as it sounded out onscreen, I felt more than ever that I was a part of the music. By the time I reached the big solo, I was absolutely sold.
That’s the magic of Guitar Hero and the offshoot that would follow in Harmonix’s step over to Rock Band. Video games sell us on a fantasy of inhabiting another life, time, place, or experience beyond our day-to-day. As I hit that wailing, melodramatic solo in “More Than A Feeling,” I remember noticing the way I was shaking the neck of the guitar, and trying to apply vibrato on the “string,” as if it was a real guitar. When my star power built up, I leaned into the guitar as I tilted it up, and was thrilled at the way the screen lit up electric blue as the crowd cheered me on. Those screaming fans roared as I nailed a long passage without mistakes, and shouted angrily as I made mistakes. For better or worse, I was on the stage, making or breaking the performance.
The music game genre may have faded, but I’ll never forgot that first moment, playing a game I’d never heard of with a silly little multicolored plastic guitar. Nor will I forgot the countless hours I would spend in front of Guitar Hero and its descendants in the years to follow. For me, the game does exactly what I love my hobby for: Transport me someplace new, and make me forget, even for a few moments, that I’ve left my real life behind.
Email the author Matt Miller, or follow on Game Informer.
I remember when I first played Guitar Hero at a LAN party at school and was thinking about how easy it looked when other people played on expert but then when I picked it up, I failed so bad. So, I spent a good amount of time playing on Medium and the same song over and over so it didn't look like I sucked.
I had this same experience with Guitar Hero. I sometimes look on CraigsList for used games, and I see countless numbers of posts saying "PS2 with Guitar Hero game and guitars, cheap!!". This makes me feel like I am old because it seems like not that long ago I was sitting in front of my non - flatscreen tv screaming whenever I would miss a note. Good times, good times indeed.
I got my first Guitar Hero (GH2) for my birthday when it came out. Still to this day (well I haven't played it in a couple of yrs) I could only manage medium difficulty (sometimes I'd go over to hard for easier songs). It's crazy b/c my sis wipes the floor with me, she can handle most songs on expert. XD
My favorite one was Aerosmith (if we're counting Rock Band too then it's AC/DC Live).
Those were such good times, and I still play my Guitar Hero and Rock Band games somewhat regularly. Apparently what some thought was a fad was much more than that to me.
Guitar Hero, and later Rock Band, have been a big part of my life. I've always loved classic rock music, and being able to interact with it, even with little plastic instruments, has provided countless hours of entertainment. It was truly a unique era, if you ask me.
I swear that one day I will properly configure my Pro guitar on Rock Band 3 and force myself to play through all the tutorials over and over until I at least get a good feeling of it.
I can't count the number of hours I played the first several Guitar Hero games. I actually wish they still made them today. They lost most people by having their release at the end of a console generation and forcing people to buy new equipment in order to play on the new ones. Then Rock Band came out and everyone said how much better it was, and for the drum part, I agree. The guitar aspect was always better with just Guitar Hero though, imho. Such great memories playing back in the day. Maybe they will make a comeback at some point for nostalgia purposes in the next generation. People might be willing to shell out money if it was just Guitar Hero.
the first guitar hero was pretty memorable gaming experience. I remember it had been out awhile but i had no idea, and me and some friends were hanging out at a wal-mart, ya know; like all the cool kids do, when i noticed the guitar controller. I was like what in the world is this, and i was the only person in our group of friends who played guitar, so i gave it a shot first. at first i didn't care for it too much, but after like 2 or 3 shots i picked it up really good and ended up buying it a day or two later. it was really fun and i spent lots of time playing it, and having friends over and it was a pretty fun "social" thing to do. but as the sequels became more and more popular, the game seemed to get too outrageous in the difficulty. and some of my friends were those people who could 100% a song on expert, and by that point i was had kinda gave up on it, and would just say. . . . yeah, well i can play a real guitar, can you? and that would normally end the show boating. though i must give them credit, playing those songs on expert took some skill and a lot of memorization.
Ah, the good ol days...
I played Guitar Hero on the Wii and it was really fun.
Before I played I thought guitar hero was so lame. I was such a fool. It was fun learning to play. I got to hyperspeed 5 expert and got perfect on a couple of songs. I own most of the games. I picked up again after a long time of not playing at my friends house and it was a blast. I love Guitar Hero.
I was in New York @ the time & didn't have any consoles but a psp & ds lite at the time.
I remember seeing it on a demo setup @ the samsung experience store.
I had curiosity but,felt that being an adult playing with a plastic guitar in public would be shameful & awkward but,I watched as other kids & adults played GH3.
I came & watched several times before I finally mustered up enough courage to play it in public.
I immediately became addicted & came back more & more to play it.
It wasn't until early 2009 when I moved to the midwest when I finally got a 360 & my first in home GH & RB fix.
I still own many of the 360 games & play every now & then when I get tired of the endless amount of FPS,to release stress,or when my girl wants to play something.
Even if this is the end of the console music game genre I will always remember you as a place that got me back into gaming on a regular basis after a several year hiatus.
Yep, and ill still go back to those games from time to time, maybe putting down a few bucks for a song or two on Rock Band.
Music games were pretty cool to try out for the first time. . . if you can't play an instrument for real, that is. . .
My friends and I played countless hours and shared countless laughs and memories with these games. They will always hold a special place in my heart.
My biggest thrill came from rocking the vocals though, when they added the mic. I could handle the bass alright, but I shined on vocals.