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LONG BLOG

If You Love It, Change It (Back): Guitar Hero IV World Tour.

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Many people just don't like the idea of a Guitar Hero without Harmonix. While the takeover from Activision may have miffed some players, I actually didn't mind GHIII that much - the only issue I had were ridiculously difficult note charts for certain songs like One and 3's and 7's. But other than that, it was still Guitar Hero and I found it was still fun for the most part. However, with the latest iteration, Guitar Hero: World Tour, video game fans all over are crying foul in what appears to be a blatant attempt by Activision to try and beat Harmonix at their own game. Namely, including not only bass and guitar parts, but also drums and vocals.

In my personal opinion, this is the absolute most idiotic thing Activision could ever attempt.

No, not because it's an egregious ripoff of Rock Band, but because Activision would be far more successful, gamers would benefit more, and the world in general would be a better place if they just stuck to a guitar-centric Guitar Hero. Why? Because this stunt puts them in direct competition with the Rock Band franchise and the already-established player base it has gathered since its release.

But weren't they already in direct competition? Not really. You see, while both titles feature similar goals, gameplay styles, and art direction, they differ on one major point - song selection. This detail affects not only how you play the game, but also the different type of people who purchase it, and provides incentive for owning both titles.

Guitar Hero, since it only features one instrument, can have songs that are more technically difficult. Why is there no Slayer on Rock Band? Why can't you play Psychobilly Freakout or Jordan on it? Because those songs focus so heavily on the guitar that the other parts wouldn't be any fun to play, and wouldn't be suited for a cooperative multiplayer atmosphere.

Rock Band on the other hand has songs that wouldn't be suitable for Guitar Hero because the guitar parts are either too easy or not integral enough to the song to make it interesting to play alone. It can have songs where the drums or vocals are the most difficult, parts that would be ignored entirely in GH. And then it can also feature songs that aren't that difficult in any part individually, but are fun to play with all your friends. I know many of you balk at the terms "casual" and "hardcore", but because of these songs, the two franchises are actually different enough to attract two different audiences, and provide two experiences that are divergent enough to warrant buying both games. Thus, GH3 and RB could exist as two seperate entities that could survive and thrive on their own.

This happens all the time in the world around us. When you look at a certain ecosystem, there are many different typed of creatures, but they don't all compete for the exact same type of food or the exact same habitats. If two animals did have this sort of conflict, one would eventually adapt to the situation better than the other species, and the loser would either have to find a new way to survive or go extinct. So you can have coyotes and bobcats in the same area because, even though they're both smaller carnivores, they have different prey and different methods of hunting. So they both can thrive with minimal conflict.

Going back to video games, all three consoles went through the same type of diversifying process. The Xbox 360 attracts your typical gamer who plays Fifa Soccer titles and Burnout 3 in his dorm room, the Wii draws families, Nintendo fans, and first-time gamers, and the PS3 has the more hardcore gamers and technogeeks who are willing to pay more for better graphics and higher-budget games. These seperate audiences are why all three consoles are still selling respectably. It's only when two consoles offer similar experiences that the fireworks begin and the companies really have to work to sell their product.

So if Activision wants to challenge Rock Band, they are basically contradicting the natural order of things. By staying focused on the guitar parts, they would've diversified the market and increased their chances of making a higher profit, not to mention improve the overall market for us consumers by giving us more options in our game selection. It's a win-win situation. Now with the path they've chosen instead, they can evolve faster than Harmonix or become extinct, a win-lose situation. We might get a perfected Rock Band title out of the deal, but we still lose what had the potential to be a perfected Guitar Hero and Rock Band.

Because two games are better than one.
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About SWE3tMadnessone of us since 6:04 PM on 01.10.2008

-About Me-

A recent graduate in Biology, neverless my first love in entertainment and media has always been video games, even though I don't get a lot of time to play recent ones now. I still enjoy following the industry and gushing about the latest Nintendo releases.

A Critical Ear: Analyzing Music in Video Games

If there's one thing that I like more than talking about video games, it's talking about music in video games. As a classically trained pianist that has been playing for more than twelve years, I take a look at some of my favorite soundtracks and how they contribute to the gaming experience as a whole.

#0: Introduction
#1: Villain Themes and Leitmotifs (April, 2010)
#2: Anti-Music (June, 2010)
#3: They Wasted a Perfectly Good Song (July, 2010)
#4: Fight On! (August, 2010)
#5: More Than Just Noise: Nostalgia and Homecoming (September, 2010 Monthly Musing)
#6: While I Play Unfitting Music (November, 2010)
#7: Thinking Outside the Soundchip (December/January 2010)

-Other Promoted Articles-

Using Post-Modernism to Reinvent the Horror Genre
Final Fantasy VI's Dancing Mad - A Critical Analysis
The Wrong Thing: The Root Of All Evil
Other Worlds Than These: Pokèmon
Music and Rhythm Games: A Classically Trained Pianist's Perspective
Feel the Hatred: Zant (Twilight Princess)
Instant Replay: Guitar Hero III
The Start of the Affair: Super Smash Bros. 64