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Guitar Hero


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Take Amplitude, restrict it to the rock genre, add a five-button guitar controller (complete with strum and whammy bars) and you have the most promising title I've played thus far.

Only been in development for four months, which would explain the rough graphics and... unsettling avatar.

Amplitude + guitar controller, though? Sold!




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  • 3 weeks later...
Wicked, but I want to see the controller - I'm a bit curious as to the control method, seeing as there are 5 notes to play. Obviously in Frequency and Amplitude you could keep your fingers over the buttons for fast play.

To be fair, my piano has 88 keys and i manage to "fast play" that

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E3 impressions from BuddyC @ GAF:

"Looking at past Harmonix titles, it should come as no surprise to discover that at least three-fourths of the studio consider themselves to be musicians. Of the seven games they've released in the last four years, six have been music-based and five have used specialty peripherals as their primary control method.

Shifting gears for a moment, let’s talk about Red Octane. Back in the early days of the American Dance Dance Revolution scene, Red Octane was one of the few retailers to offer the required accessories. As time wore on, Red Octane began to manufacture these products themselves, filling the demand for higher quality dance pads and other related peripherals. Things blossomed from there, with most major retailers now carrying Red Octane products. With years of satisfied rhythm fans under their belt, Red Octane is now taking things to the next level as they shift into the realm of game publishing, and for their second title, they've teamed up with the crew over at Harmonix.

So what happens when you combine Red Octane and Harmonix? You get Guitar Hero, the best of both worlds, mixing Harmonix's music-based gameplay with Red Octane's knack for high-quality peripherals. To be more specific, imagine playing Frequency or Ampltiude with a guitar-shaped controller hanging from your shoulder, hitting the notes as indicated on-screen, strumming along with the music.

If this is starting to sound a bit familiar, you're probably thinking of Guitar Freaks, a series by Konami that, to this day, remains in Japan. But while Freaks and Hero share some basic similarities, namely the guitar-shaped controller, that's about as far as the similarities go. Harmonix is out to create their own game, not reinvent that of another. So whereas Freak's guitar has three buttons on the fret and a strut bar, Hero's has five fret buttons, a strut bar and a whammy bar. Compared to the simple, yet functional, interface of Freaks, the front-end of Hero is much more polished and refined, utilizing Amplitude's highway system to indicate chords and timing. Not to mention Hero's multiple venues, dynamic crowds, multiple characters, story mode, licensed rock tracks, and so forth. Perhaps most telling is Harmonix's goal for the player to emulate the hand movements of performing a song on an actual guitar when playing on the harder difficulty levels. It's the difference between San Franciso Rush and Gran Turismo; though both involve driving cars, one is an enjoyable, if unrealistic, arcade game while the other aspires to be an entertaining simulation of the real thing.

Basic gameplay boils down to holding down the proper fret button and strumming at the indicated time. As mentioned above, the system should be familiar to those who played Frequency and Ampltiude - each fret button has a respective row on screen, the placement of gems on the moving track indicating what buttons need to be hit when. Meanwhile, a series of dimples on the buttons themselves help to ensure that you're hitting the proper one. To familiarize players with the controls, easy mode only uses three of the five fret buttons. Things get more complex relative to the higher difficulty levels, with players eventually recreating each note on the hardest setting.

Ideally, the goal is to have most players advance to the medium difficulty within hours, hard within days, and finally, move on to expert after weeks of play. Harmonix hopes that the added challenge will keep the replay value high, as they've noted less-challenging rhythm games tend to get shelved faster than the challenging ones. As players progress within the game, they'll also unlock more venues, songs and guitars. The crowds of these venues are directly proportional to your performance: miss a note and you'll break the flow of a song. Do this too many times and the venue will empty out. Conversely, a better performance draws a bigger crowd. The bigger a crowd, the more successful you are and the further you advance in the game.

By definition, a music game is only as enjoyable as its music. For Guitar Hero, Harmonix is hoping to include around 30 "as made famous by" licensed songs. This means that most of Hero's tracks will be covers, but don't panic. Of the six songs demonstrated to us, none were obvious covers and all sounded quite true to the original tune. In fact, had the Red Octane representative not pointed out that they were covers, we probably would not have noticed. Following a rock theme, the tracks all come from various aspects of the rock genre, including Boston's More Than A Feeling, Higher Ground by the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Spanish Castle Music by Jimi Hendrix, ZZTop's Sharp Dressed Man, Take it Off by The Donnas and Megadeth's Symphony of Destruction. For those of you that just grinned, I can confirm that rocking out to Symphony of Destruction was one of the more satisfying gameplay experiences in recent memory. It's also worth noting that these tracks are all full-length, usually three to five minutes, and haven't been shortened or edited in any way.

Surprisingly, the build we saw only represented about four months of work, and as such, several key gameplay features, like the use of the whammy bar, had yet to be finalized. Despite this, the game already carried a cohesive, stylized feel, the menus following a "rock poster" motif, the loading screens an animated cassette tape. Even at this early stage, there's a distinct atmosphere to the title, which is an extremely positive sign.

As far as availability goes, Red Octane plans to release the game this Fall. The title will come bundled with the guitar controller, and though pricing had yet to be decided, we were told to expect a reasonable price. Even more exciting was the prospect of future games in the series - sales warranting, of course.

In an E3 filled with cookie-cutter sequels and been-there-done-that franchises, Guitar Hero was a breath of fresh air. I've yet to run across someone who tested the game that didn't walk away with a smile on their face. Tales of appointments that ran over their time slots were common, and when it came our turn, it was easy to understand why. There's something intrinsically satisfying about the game, and it was genuinely saddening when our appointment ended and we were forced to relinquish the guitar controller. Simply put, Guitar Hero is awesome, and the sooner it arrives, the better."

Well, there you go.

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thats cos your a malcoordinate. "As made famous by...." makes me think of the horrendous Donkey Konga tracks. :D why cant they just use the real songs? surely they have to licence them in the first plcae so they should be able to use the original songs, shouldnt they?

*edit* watching those Gamespot videos again, i knwow for a fact thats Megadeth's original "Symphony...". Id put diamonds on it. And I'm 95% sure that The original "More Than A Feeling" too. Unless theyre just placeholders till they get the remade tracks in? But thatd would be dumb!!! gaaaaaaahhh, my eyes are bleeding!

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Well a bass guitar has 4 strings, a normal guitar has 6. Well then theres also twelve string guitars too. But my guess is theyve gone with 5 to make it more of a 'game'. They cant go for full on simulation - it would be way too hard for most people.

I want the gitarooman tracks in this game!!!

Also, the tracks are probably covers as the lisence fees for original tracks is probably more expensive. Hence why some Karaoke discs are cover versions of tracks.

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Guest BuddyC
Also, the tracks are probably covers as the lisence fees for original tracks is probably more expensive. Hence why some Karaoke discs are cover versions of tracks.


I think the reason they chose five buttons along the fret is because they're trying more to emulate chords via finger placement moreso than string management, if that makes any sense. If they were going for the string approach, there would be six buttons located horizontially on the board, instead, there are five buttons stacked vertically. If this helps, imagine the button placement of this


with the general shape of this


and add a whammy bar along the bottom face.

edit: Oh, hey guys. Finally got around to registering here :D

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Guest BuddyC
thats the Guitar Freaks controller, non? i imagined it wouldnt be too far removed from that. mmmm, SG goodness. you under some NDA or have you just not got any good pictures? :)

There just aren't any good pictures. As of E3 they only had a few painted prototypes ready to go, and even then they already had a few changes planned (more dimples on the fret buttons, for one).

RedOctane really stressed that they're trying to build a high-quality controller, it's even got a nice adjustable shoulder/neck strap. Sadly though, this means it's not compatible with Guitar Freaks due to some of the design decisions for the internal circuitry. Blah :/

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