Power Rock Hero, aka “Are music-based games doomed to die a horrible fiery digital death?”

By on June 17, 2010

Checking out all the mood lighting-bathed video game madness at E3 this week has got me thinking.  It’s kind of awesome point in time for video games.  It’s definitely come into the mainstream.  Gamers (some anyway) are actually “cool” and are no longer the sun-starved anti-socialites hiding away in dark, dank basements that belong to their grandparents.  Video gaming culture in general has started to shift away from placing more value on pixel-pushing power and towards real innovation -toward evolution.  Prime example: Music Games… the guitar-based ones to be exact.

I’d say music video games have a come a long way since the days of the Miracle Piano Teaching System or Mario Paint’s composer feature.  Back then, it seemed like everyone thought of the Miracle was just gimmicky… not a viable gaming option of the hardcore.  Was that concept even around back then?  The hardcore gamer?  As we all know… RedOctane and Harmonix changed all that back in 2005 when they released the first installment of the Guitar Hero juggernaut.   Then all hell broke loose, the two split up with RedOctane becoming a property of Activision and Harmonix courting the folks at MTV games.  Harmonix ended coming out  their very awesome RockBand franchise.  The two have been trying to one up each other ever since.

That brings us to now.   When the original Guitar Hero came out, this is what the controller looked like:

A ukulele-sized non-reasonable facsimile of an actual guitar.  With 5 fret buttons and a little plastic strum paddle, the original GH guitar controller, bore very little resemblance to its real life counterpart, in both look and style of play.

As of E3 2010, this is what the controllers look like:

Left: Power Gig's guitar, Right: RockBand 3's guitar

Cah-razy!  What?  You say they’re pretty much real guitars!?  How astute of you, anonymous reader!  While Rock Band’s 3 guitar controller opted for 102 fret buttons with actual pluckable strings, new addition to the fray Power Gig boasts a controller that is a bonafide six-stringed fretted instrument, magnetic pickups and all.  To be fair, at E3 Harmonix also demoed a Fender Squier made for RB3, which was basically an actual Squier electric guitar with fret sensors and midi capabilities.

Tell me you Guitar Hero/RockBand aficionados haven’t had this conversation before, though.  When Rock Band introduced the drum pad and everyone realized it was a little like playing actual drums, I know more than a few of my friends joked around about how they’re going to better approximate playing actual guitar… well, there it goes.

Combine the new guitar controllers with Rock Band’s new Keytar accessory, and the lines between video game and digital guitar teaching system start to get blurred even more.

I guess my point is: once we get to the point where the games are called “How Well Do You Play Real Guitar?”, how do we evolve from there?  Will the uber-creative minds of today’s game designers find another way to push the envelope?  Or will these music games rot away in their stagnancy?  You know… like the Police Academy movies.

What say you, Gamers?

About David Scarpitta

I am a critical guy, and love to review and give my professional opinion on just about anything. Though have a love for tech/gaming and music alongside the cinema. You can catch me consulting and developing the net any day of the week.