October 13, 2011

Guitar Hero II Songs: Where Are They Now?

A few months ago I looked back on the original Guitar Hero songs. Only seven tracks were totally MIA.

But what about Guitar Hero II? This was a huge sequel, with so many improvements over the legendary original:

  • Far better competitive two player modes. It’s easy to forget, but multiplayer in Guitar Hero was a tacked-on affair, offering only the oddball “you play a section, then I play a section” tug-of-war multiplayer mode.
  • Cooperative two player mode with bass/guitar and lead/rhythm tracks depending on the song.
  • A significantly larger on-disc tracklist, going from 30 core songs to 40 (48 on Xbox).
  • A few of the songs were original masters, predicting the wholesale switch to all masters later.
  • After a few months, finally available for the first time on a next-gen console as well as the original Playstation 2.

As far as I’m concerned, the “II” in the title stood for the best two player guitar game ever!

The Guitar Hero II soundtrack was killer, too. But it also predates reusable DLC song libraries by two years. So short of booting up the original game on a Playstation 2 or Xbox 360 — how can we experience these 48 classic tracks in a modern rhythm game? Let’s see:

Song Available in …
Surrender – Cheap Trick Rock Band DLC
Possum Kingdom – The Toadies none
Heart Shaped Box – Nirvana Rock Band DLC, Guitar Hero Smash Hits*
Salvation – Rancid none
Strutter – Kiss Rock Band DLC
Shout at the Devil – Mötley Crüe Guitar Hero Smash Hits*
Mother – Danzig Guitar Hero: Smash Hits
Life Wasted – Pearl Jam none
Cherry Pie – Warrant Guitar Hero: Smash Hits
Woman – Wolfmother Rock Band DLC, Guitar Hero: Smash Hits*
You Really Got Me – Van Halen Guitar Hero: Van Halen
Tonight I’m Gonna Rock You Tonight – Spinal Tap Rock Band DLC
Carry On Wayward Son – Kansas Rock Band 2, Guitar Hero: Smash Hits
Search and Destroy – Iggy Pop and the Stooges none
Message in a Bottle – The Police Rock Band DLC, Guitar Hero: Smash Hits*
Billion Dollar Babies – Alice Cooper Rock Band DLC
Them Bones – Alice in Chains Guitar Hero: Smash Hits
War Pigs – Black Sabbath Rock Band DLC
Monkey Wrench – Foo Fighters Rock Band DLC, Guitar Hero: Smash Hits*
Hush – Deep Purple none
Girlfriend – Matthew Sweet none
Who Was in My Room Last Night? – Butthole Surfers none
Can’t You Hear Me Knockin – Rolling Stones none
Sweet Child o’ Mine – Guns N’ Roses none
Rock and Roll, Hoochie Koo – Rick Derringer none
Tattooed Love Boys – The Pretenders none
John the Fisherman – Primus none
Jessica – The Allman Brothers Band none
Bad Reputation – Thin Lizzy none
Last Child – Aerosmith none
Crazy on You – Heart none
Trippin’ on a Hole in a Paper Heart – Stone Temple Pilots Rock Band DLC, Guitar Hero: Smash Hits
Dead! – My Chemical Romance none
Killing in the Name – Rage Against the Machine Guitar Hero: Smash Hits
Freya – The Sword Guitar Hero: Smash Hits*
Stop! – Jane’s Addiction Guitar Hero: Smash Hits
Madhouse – Anthrax Rock Band DLC
The Trooper – Iron Maiden Rock Band DLC, Guitar Hero: Smash Hits*
Rock This Town – Stray Cats none
Laid to Rest – Lamb of God Rock Band DLC, Guitar Hero: Smash Hits
Psychobilly Freakout – Reverend Horton Heat Guitar Hero: Smash Hits
YYZ – Rush Rock Band DLC, Guitar Hero: Smash Hits*
Beast and the Harlot – Avenged Sevenfold Rock Band 3, Guitar Hero: Smash Hits
Carry Me Home – The Living End none
Institutionalized – Suicidal Tendencies none
Misirlou – Dick Dale none
Hangar 18 – Megadeth Rock Band DLC, Guitar Hero DLC
Free Bird – Lynyrd Skynyrd Rock Band 3, Guitar Hero: Smash Hits*

(* indicates the song is exportable to be used as DLC in current Guitar Hero games. All Rock Band songs are exportable with very rare exceptions.)

By my count, out of the original 48 songs in Guitar Hero II, that’s …

21 songs only playable by booting up Guitar Hero II
18 songs playable in Rock Band 3
20 songs playable in a Guitar Hero game

For reference, the complete library of songs are officially listed for each game here:

Unfortunately, the tale of the tape in this case is rather woeful — 43% of the Guitar Hero II tracklist is only playable in the original game. Here’s hoping we get a few more of these classic tracks as DLC in the future!

June 12, 2011

The Original Guitar Hero Songs: Where Are They Now?

Hard to believe it’s been almost six years since the release of the original Guitar Hero. Remember struggling to complete your first songs on easy? Remember how mind-bendingly impossible hard difficulty seemed, much less expert difficulty? Remember hitting that last Bark at The Moon solo and failing instantly? Ah, memories. Now we get to marvel at how difficult Dragonforce’s Through the Fire and Flames is on a REAL FREAKING GUITAR.

The original Guitar Hero soundtrack is a true classic. But short of booting up the original 2005 game on a Playstation 2 — can we experience these 30 classic tracks in a modern rhythm game? Let’s see:

Song Available in …
I Love Rock And Roll – Joan Jett and the Blackhearts Rock Band 3, Guitar Hero: Smash Hits*
I Wanna Be Sedated – The Ramones Rock Band 3
Thunder Kiss ’65 – White Zombie Rock Band DLC, Guitar Hero: Smash Hits
Smoke on the Water – Deep Purple Rock Band 3, Guitar Hero: Smash Hits
Infected – Bad Religion none
Iron Man – Black Sabbath none
More Than a Feeling – Boston Rock Band DLC, Guitar Hero: Smash Hits
You Got Another Thing Comin – Judas Priest Rock Band DLC
Take Me Out – Franz Ferdinand Rock Band DLC, Guitar Hero: Smash Hits
Sharp Dressed Man – ZZ Top Guitar Hero 6
Killer Queen – Queen Rock Band DLC, Guitar Hero: Smash Hits
Hey You – Exies Guitar Hero: Smash Hits*
Stellar – Incubus Guitar Hero: Smash Hits
Heart Full of Black – Burning Brides none
Symphony of Destruction – Megadeth Guitar Hero DLC
Ziggy Stardust – David Bowie Rock Band DLC
Fat Lip – Sum 41 Guitar Hero DLC
Cochise – Audioslave none
Take It Off – The Donnas Guitar Hero: Smash Hits
Unsung – Helmet Guitar Hero: Smash Hits
Spanish Castle Magic – Jimi Hendrix Rock Band DLC
Higher Ground – Red Hot Chili Peppers none
No One Knows – Queens of the Stone Age Rock Band 3, Guitar Hero: Smash Hits*
Ace of Spades – Motörhead Rock Band 2, Guitar Hero: Metallica*
Crossroads – Cream none
Godzilla – Blue Öyster Cult Rock Band DLC, Guitar Hero Smash Hits
Texas Flood – Stevie Ray Vaughan Rock Band DLC
Frankenstein – The Edgar Winter Group none
Cowboys From Hell – Pantera Guitar Hero: Smash Hits
Bark at the Moon – Ozzy Osbourne Rock Band DLC, Guitar Hero: Smash Hits

(* indicates the song is exportable to be used as DLC in current Guitar Hero games. All Rock Band songs are exportable with very rare exceptions.)

By my count, out of the original 30 songs in Guitar Hero, that’s …

7 songs only playable by booting up Guitar Hero on a Playstation 2
14 songs playable in Rock Band 3
18 songs playable in a Guitar Hero game

Here’s hoping we eventually get to play all these classic songs in one form or another without being anchored to a PS2!

June 25, 2010

The Original Virtual Guitar

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 …

… fare a bit better than Quest for Fame’s virtual axe did.

February 11, 2010

Rock of the Dead

Sure, you can kill zombies with your keyboard, but did you know you can kill zombies with your Guitar Hero or Rock Band guitar, too? Behold Rock of the Dead!!

There are mindless beasts that take basic three- or four-strum combos to take out, but then there are ones that’ll lob projectiles at you – these knives/bombs only take a couple of fret flicks to get rid of, but unless you take down the guy that’s throwing them out at you, you’ll just be endlessly downing those objects. When the screen fills with a half-dozen beasts at once, you have the ability to discriminate and target specific ones by “typing” out the combo of the one you want – the game’s smart enough to know which beast you’re “aiming” at because it locks in on the enemy as you’re pushing out its fret button code.

Periodically you’ll have to take down larger enemies in rhythm fashion: this is basic Guitar Hero/Rock Band gameplay as the notes must be played to the beat of the background music to take down the threat.

The game has extra geek cred because it features voicework by Neil Patrick Harris and Felicia Day, too. If you don’t know who those people are, I forgive you.

Unfortunately this game is Wii-only, which means I won’t be able to play it — but it sounds awesome, and I totally support destroying zombies with the power of fake plastic rock!

updated: yay! Rock of the Dead will be available for the Xbox 360 and PS3 this October!

Here’s some recent footage of the game in action courtesy of our friends at RockBandAide:

December 21, 2009

Guitar Hero Knockoffs

Imagine the joy of finding a copy of The Beatles: Rock Band or Guitar Hero 5 under your Christmas tree this year. Now imagine what you’d feel like if, instead, you unwrapped a copy of an ultra-chintzy, bottom dollar Guitar Hero knockoff. Behold.

Guitar Superstar

(picture courtesy of the always-excellent Rock Band Aide)

Featuring, according to the box, 12 “hit” songs:

  • Santana – “Stormy”
  • Motorhead – “Fight”
  • Fall Out Boy – “Dance, Dance”
  • Alice Cooper – “Billion Dollar Babies”
  • System Of A Down – “Forest”
  • The Vines – “Get Free”
  • Aerosmith – “I Don’t Wanna Miss A Thing”

There must be multiple versions of this thing, because this one features the song Granite Man. Not Iron Man, mind you, but … Granite Man.

Oh, but wait, there’s more!

Shredmaster Jr.

This one has a similar tracklist, but a totally different gameplay UI.

  • Smoke on the Water
  • I Love Rock and Roll
  • Iron Man
  • You Give Love a Bad Name
  • Billion Dollar Babies
  • Hotel California
  • Paradise City
  • Smells Like Teen Spirit
  • Paranoid
  • Master of Puppets

I’m not sure which one is worse. I don’t think there can be a winner when both are so bad. This is gameplay that would have been barely acceptable in the 8-bit NES era, and “songs” that are painful, barely recognizable MIDI deconstructions of the originals.

There’s even a drum superstar, though it’s so profoundly bad I couldn’t find any details on it, or videos of it in action.

Any kids who got these crappy knockoffs for Christmas instead of the real thing, you have my condolences. I’m sorry your parents don’t love you!

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