Guitar Hero

Guitar Hero has become a cultural phenomenon in the world of computer video games.  The guitar, software, and accessories are availabe in Guitar Hero – All Categories icon including Wii, Playstation, Xbox, etc. is a series of music video games published by RedOctane, in partnership with Activision. The series is notable for its use of a plastic guitar peripheral to simulate the playing of music, represented on-screen by colored notes that correspond to fret buttons on the controller.

Heidi Klum Guitar Hero

Their has recently been a controversial advertisement with model Heidi Klum playing Guitar Hero in her undergarments! The games support individual play as well as cooperative and competitive modes for two players. The series has used a range of both licensed and independent rock music tracks from the 1960s, throughout the decades to the present, including many master tracks from the bands. In total, six games have been released for video game consoles.  Games have also been released for mobile phones and the Nintendo DS handheld gaming system.

History

The series was originally developed by Harmonix Music Systems from 2005 to 2007. Then development duties of the series were transferred to Neversoft, whose first effort, Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock was released on October 28, 2007 in North America.

The Guitar Hero franchise has become a cultural phenomenon, making many appearances in popular culture, and the games have become extremely popular as party games and hobbies. The series has sold 23 million units, earning $1.6 billion in retail sales.

Guitar Controller

Guitar Hero is unusual because it comes packaged with a controller peripheral modeled after a black Gibson SG guitar. Rather than a typical gamepad.   This guitar controller is the primary input for the game. Playing the game with the guitar controller simulates playing an actual guitar, except it uses five colored “fret buttons” and a “strum bar” instead of frets and strings. The development of Guitar Hero was inspired by Konami’s GuitarFreaks arcade game, which at the time, had not seen much exposure in the North American market; RedOctane, already selling guitar-shaped controllers for imported copies of GuitarFreaks, approached Harmonix about creating a game to use an entirely new Guitar controller.

The concept was to have the gameplay of Amplitude with the visuals of Karaoke Revolution, both of which had been developed by Harmonix. The game was met with critical acclaim and received numerous awards for its innovative guitar peripheral and its soundtrack, which comprised 47 playable rock songs (most of which were cover versions of popular songs from artists and bands from the 1960s through modern rock). Guitar Hero has sold nearly 1.5 million copies to date.

Guitar Hero II Release

The popularity of the series increased dramatically with the release of Guitar Hero II for the PlayStation 2 in 2006. Featuring improved multiplayer gameplay, an improved note-recognizing system, and 64 songs, it became the fifth best-selling video game of 2006. The PlayStation 2 version of the game was offered both separately and in a bundle with a cherry red Gibson SG guitar controller. Guitar Hero II was later released for the Xbox 360 in April 2007 with an exclusive Gibson X-Plorer guitar controller and an additional 10 songs, among other features. About 3 million units of Guitar Hero II have sold on the PlayStation 2 and Xbox 360.

The final game in the Guitar Hero series to be developed by Harmonix was Guitar Hero Encore: Rocks the 80s for the PlayStation 2, which was released in July 2007. This final game version, changing the visuals from Guitar Hero II, and shortening the song list with no bonus songs was not as well received by reviewers.

Transition

Transition Both RedOctane and Harmonix were experiencing changes in 2006. RedOctane was bought by Activision in June while it was announced in September that Harmonix would be purchased by MTV Networks. As a result of the two purchases, Harmonix would no longer develop future games in the Guitar Hero series. Instead, developing would go to Neversoft, a subsidiary of Activision known for developing the Tony Hawk’s series of skateboarding games.

Neversoft

Neversoft was chosen to helm the Guitar Hero series after Neversoft founder, Joel Jewett, admitted to the RedOctane founders, Kai and Charles Huang, that his development team for Tony Hawk’s Project 8 went to work on weekends just to play Guitar Hero. In 2007, Harmonix and MTV Games released a new music title through rival publisher Electronic Arts, called Rock Band. It expanded upon the gameplay popularized by the Guitar Hero series by adding drum and microphone instruments, allowing players to simulate playing songs as bands, though this functionality has now been implemented in Guitar Hero World Tour.

Guitar Hero III:

Legends of Rock was released in late 2007 for the PlayStation 2, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, Wii, PC, and Mac platforms. The title is the first installment of the series to include wireless guitars bundled with the game and also the first to release a special bundle with two guitars. The game includes Slash and Tom Morello as playable characters in addition to the existing fictional avatars; both guitarists performed motion capture to be used for their characters animation in the game.

(aka Guitar Hero IV)

Guitar Hero World Touricon, previously named Guitar Hero IV, is the fourth full game in the series and was released on October 26, 2008 for PlayStation 2, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, and Wii. Analysts had expected that future Guitar Hero games in 2008 would include additional instrument peripherals to compete against Rock Band. Guitar Hero World Tour was confirmed as in development following the announcement of the merger between Activision and Vivendi Games in December 2007. Activision’s CEO Bobby Kotick announced on April 21, 2008 that Guitar Hero World Tour will branch out into other instruments including vocals. Guitar Hero World Tour includes drums and is packaged with a new drum set controller. A larger number of real-world musicians appear as playable characters, including the great Jimi Hendrix, Billy Corgan, Sting, and Ozzy Osbourne. Guitar Hero World Tour also features the creation of custom songs that can be shared with others.

On September 4, 2007, Billboard announced that the band Aerosmith was “working closely with the makers of Guitar Hero IV, which will be dedicated to the group’s music.” On February 15, 2008, Activision announced that Guitar Hero: Aerosmith, an expansion game to the series, would be released on June 29, 2008.

Guitar Hero: Aerosmith is developed by Neversoft for the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 versions, while the Wii version of the game is developed by Vicarious Visions and the PlayStation 2 version is developed by Budcat Creations. The game features a track selection composed of 60% of Aerosmith songs, with other songs from Joe Perry’s solo work or artists that have inspired or performed with Aerosmith, including Run D.M.C. Also in the works: Activision’s 2008 SEC filings cited that they plan to release Guitar Hero: Metallica by the first quarter of 2009.

By all expectations Guitar Heroicon will once again be the number one selling computer video game of the year in 2008.  The Guitar Hero phenomenon lives on!