It’s on repeat.
As far as the temporal physics of gaming culture are concerned I’m more than a bit late to the ball with this, but I am in love with Guitar Hero. I was aware of the game when it released last November; it made such a splash in the gaming community it was impossible to not be. Clearly, I’m right at the center of the demographic Red Octane aimed the game at, being a twenty-something gamer who’d entertained adolescent fantasies of being James Hetfield, Billy Joe Armstrong, or Tom Morello, and being at the tail end of my obsession with my import copy of Taiko Drum Master. As early as December I contemplated purchasing it, but between Christmas shopping expenses and my then new forays into the World of Warcraft, I never did. Then last month, Elise’s little brother Pierce suggested the game to her parents as a potential birthday present for me. Pierce, I will never be able to thank you enough.
Even though I am only just starting to desperately fumble through the simplest of songs on the “Hard” difficulty setting, I am already anxiously anticipating the arrival of Guitar Hero II in October. According to the Wikipedia entry, the following songs have been announced for inclusion: “Arterial Black” by Drist (most likely a bonus track, as Drist is already among the lesser-known bands in the bonus track section of GH), “Psychobilly Freakout” by the Reverend Horton Heat, “Strutter” by Kiss, “War Pigs” by Black Sabbath (YES!), “Who Was in My Room Last Night” by The Butthole Surfers, “You Really Got Me” by Van Halen (by The Kinks originally), “YYZ” by Rush, and “John the Fisherman” by Primus. This is just the tip of the iceberg. GHII is going to have 40 regular tracks, as opposed to GH’s 30, in addition to 15 bonus tracks. The game will also feature improvements to the multiplayer mode, allowing one player to play the lead guitar line and the other to play either the bass or rhythm lines, as opposed to simply splitting the lead in half. I’m really excited about that aspect. The game is already a wonderfully fun multiplayer experience, especially when alcohol is involved in the equation. But the absence of bass lines is one of the few disappointing aspects of the first game. They include the Chili Pepper’s rendition of Stevie Wonder’s “Higher Ground,” yet they don’t include a way to play Flea’s bass line? Red Octane, you are such a fucking tease.
GHII is not, however, the only thing on the horizon GH fans have to look forward to. Roughly a month ago the open beta of the Freetar Hero Editor was released for download. This program allows users to create their own GH style tracks that will be usable with Freetar Hero, a freeware game that should be released in open beta within the next six months. Using a PS2 to USB adapter, you can plug your GH controller into your PC and rock out with whatever songs the community creates. I think this is a great idea. There isn’t a GH fan out there who doesn’t have a list of innumerable songs they’d love to see included in the game. I, for one, will be downloading this game the minute it’s available.