The big news from E3 was the prevalance of games that attempt to actually teach guitar, rather than mimicing it in classic five button Guitar Hero style.
My pals at RockBandAide and PlasticAxe had outstanding roundups of their recent hands-on time with a bunch of these new real(ish) guitar controllers at E3:
But before you click through, let’s take a trip back in time … way back, to 1994. When Windows 95 was the latest OS sensation, the Sony Playstation was a hot new console, and the Nintendo 64 was still just a rumor.
The 1994 PC game Quest for Fame was the first (that I know of, anyway) game that attempted to use a full-size guitar peripheral.
The Unsung Story of Quest for Fame documents the game’s brief and somewhat sad history.
Players plug a “virtual guitar” into the computer to make music in the game. Fritz still owns a couple; they’re almost the same size as a real electric guitar and fairly heavy. Unlike the make-believe instrument in Guitar Hero, the Quest For Fame virtual guitar has strings, and there are no colorful push buttons on its neck.
A player watches a window in the computer monitor as a red line scrolls past a series of green blips, like pulses on a heart monitor. When the red line crosses a blip, the player strums the virtual guitar’s strings, and the computer’s speakers respond with Aerosmith hits like “Eat The Rich” or “Walk This Way.” Hit the strings too early or too late, and out come discordant notes and insults from on-screen characters.
Quest For Fame was a hit with critics. “I have seen the future of interactive multimedia, and it rocks,” wrote Stephen Manes in The New York Times. The game acquired a number of avid fans, like Ian Hughes, a virtual worlds evangelist for IBM Corp. in Hursley, a town south of London. “It was wonderful,” said Hughes. “I liked the immersion in the music. You’re in the music and feeling the music.”
If you’re wondering how the game works, I found a video of the game in action via the old British TV show Bad Influence — the Quest for Fame demo starts at 8:20 or so.
Quest for Fame certainly predicted the eventual appearance of Guitar Hero: Aerosmith 10 years later.
Here’s hoping the current crop of virtual guitars …
- Peavey HeroMaker
- Power Gig: Rise of the Six String controller
- Rock Band 3′s Squier Stratocaster and Fender Mustang Pro
- the You Rock Guitar
… fare a bit better than Quest for Fame’s virtual axe did.
Filed under Guitar Hero, Real Guitars Are For Old People, Rock Band