The Guitar Hero series is an immensely successful series of Rhythm games that has inspired many spinoffs, including Frets on Fire, Rock Band, and Rock Revolution. Guitar Hero is said to be based on Konami's Guitar Freaks. Guitar Hero was originally developed by Harmonix, but switched to Neversoft after Harmonix was bought by MTV. There are currently eight games in the Guitar Hero series.
Common Gameplay elements
In all Guitar Hero games, the object is to play multicolored notes that scroll down the screen by pressing corresponding buttons on a guitar-shaped peripheral while moving a strum bar up or down. Some notes can be played without pressing the strum bar. These notes are known as hammer ons and pull offs. In all games, a meter on the screen known as the Rock Meter measures how well the player is doing. If the needle on the Rock Meter reaches the far left of the screen, the player fails the song and the player must try again or quit. In all games in the series, songs are organized into tiers. In Career Mode, players progress through these tiers until every song is beaten. A player can also choose Quick Play, a mode that allows anyone to play a song of their choice, regardless of tier placement. Guitar Hero has always had Easy, Medium, Hard, and Expert difficulties, but Beginner difficulty was added in Guitar Hero World Tour.
Games in the series
Guitar Hero was the first game in the series, released in November of 2005 for PlayStation 2. It was developed by Harmonix, the developer of Amplitude and Frequency. Every song of the main setlist was a cover. 17 bonus songs by lesser known bands were master tracks. Guitar Hero was an unexpected hit, and s sequel was planned.
Guitar Hero II was released for both Xbox 360 and PlayStation 2. The Xbox 360 version contained ten songs not featured on the PlayStation 2 version. Four master tracks were featured on the game, "Dead!" by My Chemical Romance, "John the Fisherman" by Primus, "Stop" by Jane's Addiction, and "Possum Kingdom" by Toadies. Guitar Hero II also featured a new multiplayer mode, Pro Face-Off.
Guitar Hero 80s is the first spinoff of the main series and is the last game in the series developed by Harmonix. It is only for PlayStation 2. Many of the venues and characters from Guitar Hero II return, but are decorated to look more "80s." The setlist is almost exclusively songs from the 1980s, the only exception being "Because, It's Midnite." The game met lukewarm reviews. The main criticism of the game was its small setlist for its price.
Guitar Hero III was the first game that Neversoft developed. The game focused more on competition more so than its predecessors. Battle Mode was introduced in this game and given an important role in career mode. Two "bosses" were featured in the career mode, Tom Morello and Slash. The game featured mostly master tracks, which was a first for the series. Guitar Hero III was also more difficult than the previous games. Three note chords became commonplace on Expert and Hard difficulties.
Guitar Hero Aerosmith was the second spinoff, and the first to feature a specific band. The game's tiers are interrupted by a cutscene showing the history behind each tier. The game contains 47 songs, 30 of which are from Aerosmith. The game was much easier than Guitar Hero III, presumably because Neversoft was attempting to appeal to a broader audience.
Following the success of Rock Band, Guitar Hero branched out to the multi-instrument system as well. Career mode was split into Guitar career, Bass career, Drum career, and Vocal career. A new difficulty, Beginner, was added to the original four to make the game easier for newcomers. Guitar Hero World tour also gives players the ability to create their own songs in the in-game studio called GHMix. Songs are limited to 1200 notes.
Guitar Hero: On Tour was the first attempt at a portable version of Guitar Hero. The game features a grip that plugged into the GameBoy Advance slot. The game has been described as an "ergonomic nightmare" by critics because of the painful cramps caused by holding the guitar grip. The game received otherwise mixed reviews.
Guitar Hero On Tour: Decades is the sequel to Guitar Hero: On Tour. The game's tiers are based on a particular decade. The tiers are Modern, 2000s, 1990s, 1980s, and 1970s. The game is able to "share" songs with Guitar Hero: On Tour via Nintendo DS wireless connection.
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