Guitar Hero III

November 21, 2007

Activision’s previous installments in the Guitar Hero series, Guitar Hero I, 2 and Rock the 80s, have sold millions of copies. The mass appeal of the series is its ability to alure both hardcore and casual gamers, due to its rising difficulty levels. We took two writers, one with extensive experience with the series, and another with absolutely none, and had them record their separate journeys with the newly released Guitar Hero III.

My Name is Scott. I am a Guitar Hero Addict

I trembled with anticipation as I sat out in front of the Mountain View Best Buy. my chair was planted directly next to the door, and I made sure that nobody was going to get there in front of me. As I sat with my coffee in front of the tremendous blue building, people began to line up behind me. With shifting looks and a slight twitch in my eye, I kept a wrench in my pocket in case someone tried to rob me.

For two hours I sat in front of Best Buy to get my copy of Guitar Hero III for Wii, and as the sun beat down on me, the employees of the store milled about setting up displays and stations for the awaiting gamers. They unlocked the doors, and I eagerly rushed through the sliding doors, grabbed a long box and checked out of the store.

I got home and ripped open the box, popped the game disc into my television and warmed up the frets with my fingers as I waited to start the game. I spent hours picking a character, and finally decided on the new little Japanese girl that had the appearance of a purple and green Pokémon.

I began my journey to become a rock legend. I watched the little animated shorts illustrating my growth with anticipation as I reached venues. Moving from a backyard house party to a bar to a full blown concert in Japan, I played the songs unceasingly. My hands cramped as the little circles (the “notes”) came flying down the screen at increasing speeds. All that went through my head was a series of colors (specifically green, red, yellow, blue and orange).

Finally I came to my first battle against Tom Morello of Rage Against the Machine. We split the screen and took turns playing solos. Instead of star power notes, there were battle gems that game me power against-ups, such as lefty-flip (impossible), double notes (all notes are double, also impossible) and amp overload (flashing notes, nearly impossible). As I dealt him his death blow, I threw down my guitar and performed a Rocky Balboa victory circle around my family room.

By the time I had finished each song and moved past each boss including Slash of the Velvet Revolvers and Lou (the devil), my hand was stuck in the position of pressing down the buttons. Although I struggled to straighten it out, my pinky was stuck in a bent position, and my eyes were so glazed over that when I blinked, I kept seeing the different notes of “One” by Metallica and “Welcome to the Jungle” by Guns and Roses.

I had been in front of my television for 13 hours straight; I was a rock legend, and I felt like smashing my small, plastic guitar on the ground and lighting it on fire like a real rock star.

I slept with songs of “The Who” and “Santana” running through my head, and when I got home from school, I had to sneak 20 minutes of hard rocking out to get my fix. I have now come to the conclusion that Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock is a sort of drug that may result in hand cramps, waking up sweating singing Tenacious D, urges to engage “Star Power” when you are failing a test and long periods spent in front of the television having a great time.


My Name is Ava. What is a Plastic Guitar?

Maybe it was that I had absolutely no musical ability. Maybe it was that my real guitar was sitting at the bottom of my closet gathering dust. But when I threw the strap of the small electronic guitar of Guitar Hero III around my neck for the first time, I felt extremely awkward.

I couldn’t resist but to try a few air-guitar moves while the game was loading, which did not work out so well. I began scrolling through a few easy songs. Unable to choose one, I closed my eyes and picked one at random. When I opened them again, my scantily clad bubblegum-pink-haired character was in front of a large audience, and a series of  multi-colored dots were flying down the screen.

A few seconds after staring at the screen blankly, I came to the realization that this was a less active, guitar-shaped DDR game. I began to push the colored buttons to match the notes on the screen.

After a while I noticed that instead of the sweet, sweet music of rock and roll, all I was hearing were out-of-tune guitar notes. Next thing I knew, I was virtually booed off the stage (a traumatic experience which no one should ever have to go through) and had no idea why.

Instead of dumping this guitar in the closet with the other one, I decided not to give up on the game completely and invited a couple of friends over to see if they could figure it out for me. As soon as they started playing I saw a little black “strum” bar on the guitar that simulates strumming the guitar (onscreen directions popped up that I had missed the last time); the bar had to be hit simultaneously with the colored buttons.

Soon enough, my friends, who also had never played Guitar Hero before, and I could complete a song and not fail. Playing songs with familiar tunes made it that much easier to find the rhythm and beat of and consequently the right “notes.”

Sadly, the game began to lose its entertainment value once we heard the same songs that everyone liked over and over again, so we started to experiment with different songs and different types of game play. That’s when we found the Battle Mode where two players could face off against one another while throwing attacks (such as broken strings) at the other player. From then on out, it was no longer friends playing a video game together. It was an all out war to see who literally rocked and who did not. Friendships were lost that day and enemies gained.

By the time everyone had left (some in tears), I had seen something that I hadn’t since my Pac-Man playing days. A simple, fun game that wasn’t only for those people that spend all day behind a controller, but also people who just wanted to have a little fun with a guitar (or picking up what is left of their musical dreams). Guitar Hero III is a game worth buying for a good time to have by themselves or with others.

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