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Guitar Hero Retrospective

 

Guitar Hero, the game that essentially revitalized the rhythm genre, started a massive video game franchise, and became a part of our culture, is now finished.

So the other day Activision Blizzard released their financial results for 2010 and while there were many interesting tidbits of information within, of interest to me is the news regarding the Guitar Hero franchise. Detailed within is the news that Activision is going to disband its Guitar Hero business unit, and stop production on this year’s Guitar Hero game, which makes me believe they’re done with Guitar Hero for a while, possibly until new video game systems are released. Hearing this news was shocking, more so to hear it on National Public Radio and not just the traditional video game websites. It was foreseeable news however, the market did become heavily saturated with rhythm games, and similarly, MTV Games recently sold off Harmonix, the developers behind Rock Band and Dance Central, but Activision seemed to have gotten while the getting was good and released, in most people’s opinions, too many Hero branded games. All that said, I’ve had a lot of positive memories with Guitar Hero and this news is a good opportunity to look back on them.

My first Guitar Hero was Guitar Hero II on the Xbox 360. I remember reading about it in the Official Xbox Magazine and decided to preorder it from Best Buy. After laying the deposit down, I waited. When the release date finally rolled around, my sister and I went straight to the Best Buy after school and picked it up. I remember us talking about someone driving on the highway, jokingly saying they were getting it as well, and that we had better beat them in case they bought the last copy. Ironically enough, they were in fact picking it up too. From then on I played hours of the game, eventually becoming competent enough to complete the hard difficulty, but never progressing much on expert. I enjoyed competing with friends, trying to outdo their high scores, and eventually spending a lot of time on ScoreHero.

I remember getting Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock as well. One day after college, I decided that was the day I’d get it, and my friend and I played through the entire game in one sitting. It was a blast, except for the fact that the second player doesn’t receive achievements. As with Guitar Hero II, Guitar Hero III took up a bunch of my time, and my skills continued to improve. Guitar Hero: Aerosmith was my next game. It was much easier compared to its predecessors, but it also had a different set up, playing predominately Aerosmith songs. It was a quick game to beat, and not that hard to obtain most of the achievements, it would be my last Guitar Hero game. At this point I had converted to Rock Band and its multi-instrument setup.

I enjoyed my time with the Guitar Hero games I’ve played and I look forward to picking up some of the titles I’ve missed. This was easy to see coming but it’s still sort of shocking, to realize that it’s already here, the discontinuation of Guitar Hero.

Sources:

Activision Blizzard Calender Year 2010 Financial Results

Guitar Hero Official Site

Score Hero

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Beginnings

Before I dive into blogging I think an introductory post would be ideal, just so you, the reader, can get a handle on where I’m coming from when I talk about games. I thought this would be cool to do as a post rather than just stick it in the about section.

My first gaming experience was Christmas 1995. My parents bought me a Super Nintendo that came bundled with Killer Instinct. I was only six at the time and having never played a video game before, I just mashed buttons. I remember my mom being distressed about how bloody it was and wanting to sell it, even up until middle school; I also remember my uncle coming over and playing against me. I played a lot of games on the SNES and remember going to Blockbuster all the time and renting games, even searching years afterwards trying to buy the games I used to play. When I think of playing the SNES back then, these are the games I remember: Donkey Kong Country 2: Diddy’s Kong Quest, Family Feud, Goof Troop, Killer Instinct, Kirby Super Star, Ms. Pac-Man, NBA HangTime, Space Invaders, Super Star Wars, Tetris 2 and Top Gear.

My next system was the Game Boy Pocket which I received for my birthday in 1996 of 1997. All I had for it was Black Bass Lure Fishing and I really loved the game, it probably fueled my interest in fishing. It was my only game… until Pokemon Red and Blue came out. They were all the rage at school; the games, the cards, the TV show; I had to get a copy. Around this time I also bought a Game Boy Color, which I think I bought them both in the same trip, so this must’ve been late 1998 or early 1999. Pokemon games were really the only video games I cared about at the time and it was really all I had a Game Boy for. All the Pokemon I played shaped my interest and love for RPGs and I am still a Pokemaniac, though not as much as I used to be. Of course when Gold and Silver came out I had to get one of those as well. Even now I only own seven Game Boy Color games and four of them are Pokemon games.

Moving onwards, my next system was a Nintendo 64. My parents got this for me during Christmas 1998 or 1999. I got Mario Kart 64 and Star Wars: Rogue Squadron with it as well. My sister and I played lots of Mario Kart 64 and I played lots of Rogue Squadron. During this time I still rented a lot of games from Blockbuster and I remember renting a few but I don’t remember them well. I remember my first experience with GoldenEye 007 at a cousin’s house and playing N64 games at another cousin’s house. I played soccer all the time at this point and that was my focus along with Pokemon games, but towards the end of the N64 I started to get more into games. The games I really remember playing during this period are: 1080 Snowboarding, GoldenEye 007, Mario Kart 64, Micro Machines 64 Turbo, Paper Mario, Pokemon Stadium and Star Wars: Rogue Squadron.

I’m going to say the next system I got was the GameCube. My parents got it for me for Christmas 2001 along with Star Wars Rogue Squadron II: Rogue Leader. I loved Rogue Leader and was amazed by the graphics but didn’t know what a memory card was so I had to buy one a week or two later. The next game I got was Sonic Adventure 2: Battle and it’s one of my favorites on the system. Early on during this period was when I stopped renting games, I did rent a few for the GameCube but that was it. I also bought a Game Boy Advance in 2002 for Golden Sun and is just strengthened my burgeoning interest in video games. During this console cycle is when I became “hardcore” into games. I started reading gaming magazines often and browsing the internet. I’d have to say the GameCube is one of my favorite systems mostly because it’s the system I started to care about games on.

I won’t delve any deeper as this is already pretty long and it just gets more convoluted from here on out. I will mention I started to get into retro games around the GameCube era as I purchased an NES and Intellivision from garage sales as well as bought a PS2 and many other retro systems; this is really the period when I started to become a collector and an avid gamer.