Guitar Hero for PlayStation 2
Ahhhh, Guitar Hero; the game responsible for kicking off a Rhythm Game craze amongst more casual video game players in Western markets- one which, when said craze eventually peaked and imploded, lead to a surplus of unwated and unsold plastic guitar peripherals dotting the shelves of gaming stores the world over.
The game’s origins are humble enough; having come into contact with the arcade rhythm game Guitar Freaks, developed by Konami’s in-house rhythm game team Benami, publisher RedOctane teamed up with developer Harmonix with the intent of creating a game with a similar structure tailored towards the western markets tastes. The result is a game that may seem complex initially, but is fairly simple to get to grips with: the centre of the playfield is dominated by a guitar neck, down which slides a series of coloured notes. When the notes hit the fretboard portion of the playfield, the corresponding button the note is tied to must be pressed- the game supports standard controller use, but it is designed primarily to be played with a special guitar peripheral that has five coloured buttons near the nut of the guitar neck that corrospond in position and colouration to the notes on the screen. The guitar peripheral also has a strum bar and a whammy bar, which are used to help build up scoring multipliers and build up gauges that enable additional modes, such as Star Power mode and the like. A Rock Meter in the bottom right of the playfield keeps track of how well you’re doing- hit more notes successfully and the crowd will respond in kind; miss one too many notes, and the song will end prematurely, resulting in a failure state.
To say the game succeeded in its goal of popularising this specific brand of gameplay in the west would be nothing short of an understatement; Guitar Hero games, of numbered titles and specific-band-or-era driven editions, continued to be released for a few years following, and spinoff titles like DJ Hero would eventually be released as well. Competitors even threw their hats into the ring, including the equally famous Rock Band titles. It was a legitimate craze for a while, and you’d be forgiving for thinking it was all gimmick and no substance, but make no mistake; behind all the hype and literal miles of plastic instruments was a rock solid (tee hee) rhythm game that gripped the hearts and minds of an entire generation of gamers with it’s style, flair, wish fulfillment nature and highly addictive gameplay.