Guitar Hero

Having dropped out of the video game console racket roughly ten years ago, some fads come to me rather late. When I first heard that a game had come out a few years back where your controller was a guitar, like everyone else, I thought it was a cool idea.

Not cool enough to drop five hundred dollars on a soon-to-be eclipsed console and the game, but certainly enough to want to play it at the home of a friend who either is still purchasing latest-generation consoles, or who immediately went to Best Buy to get what he needed to rock out in his living room.

Within all of us is a primal desire to be up on stage, in front of thousands of adoring fans, shredding the sickest licks since Hendrix was alive. Within all of us is not, however, the talent to do so.

For example, every teenage boy in America who asks for an electric guitar for Christmas. Of those who actually receive the guitar they requested, an overwhelming majority never play anything more advanced than Cat Scratch Fever. Unfortunate.

The remaining few have responsible parents who ask their child to agree to taking guitar lessons before spending money of a gift that is teetering dangerously on the edge where toys are played with for a week and get discarded for the next obsession. These kids have more of a chance to actually develop skill and talent on the guitar.

But for the rest of those kids, they don't have to pretend to be musical anymore. For the same price as a beginner-level electric guitar, Santa can squeeze a copy of Guitar Hero down your chimney.

What works so well about this innovation is that it clears out a lot of the tone-deaf and guitar-challenged from going out and forming Led Zeppelin cover bands, while allowing the truly talented to continue honing their craft and innovating musically.

In a few years, a lot of terrible local acts with no original material will be gone, because all these kids really needed was an axe to hold and some simulated fans to cheer (or boo) them into the night.

Completing a song on expert mode with 100% give the Guitar Hero an odd sense of accomplishment. They'll brag to you about it like they've actually done something important, but it's roughly equivalent to beating the fastest song on Dance Dance Revolution. Impressive, but at the end of the day, does anyone really care? When was the last time you went outside?

As a musician, yes, I find the game fun to play. But I don't have the urge to keep pressing the same pre-determined sequence of buttons over and over until every button precisely when the computer tells me to. I prefer the freedom of playing what I feel like playing, when I want to play it. Once I've played along with the songs I like two or three times, I'm done.

Now Guitar Improv, that's a game I could sink my teeth into.

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