June 1st, 2008


I am Not a Legend of Rock

Last night I went to twisterella's apartment deep in the heart of Brooklyn for a dinner party and -- yes, I am an adult of nearly 40 years -- video games. But not just any video games.

This was my first exposure to Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock (indeed my first exposure to Guitar Hero period), and let's just say it'll be a long time before I start to accumulate groupies. Kiss will never forgive me for my butchery of "Rock and Roll All Night," and I'm expecting a call from Rage Against the Machine's lawyers for what I did to "Bulls on Parade." Part of the reason, of course, is that this was my first time playing. The other part is that, well, it's a weirdly difficult game.

The problem is that you're not really playing the same notes to the song that you might when, say, air-guitaring to it in the shower. A lot of what you're doing, at least on the Easy level, is more akin to following the bass or rhythm guitar. That threw me off a lot.

So did the graphics. While Slash looks vaguely realistic, the male lead singer looks like a deformed muppet from The Dark Crystal, and for some reason there's a giant demon seated on a throne in the background who keeps hitting the stage with a big stone hammer. I don't know what that was all about. After a while, I figured the demon saw a spider and was trying to squish it. We didn't see as much of the game's female lead singer, but she looked pretty goofy too, like something out of the kind of amateur anime you might see at a local convention.

The other game we played, Singstar, was less confusing, since it's little more than Playstation 2's version of karaoke. Except you can have teams compete against each other. My team lost, mostly because of me. I can't sing the save my life.

(The secret to Singstar, by the way, is that it doesn't have a clue what words you're singing. It can only measure your pitch. So if you don't know the words, you can hum or "blah blah blah" into the mic, and as long as you're using the right notes, you rack up the points. This came in handy during my version of "Baby Got Back.")

I can see why people are addicted to Guitar Hero, though. It's oddly compelling, and I already feel like I want to try again. Maybe next time I'll make it all the way through a song without getting booed off stage. Sorry to put you through that humiliation, Slash. I didn't mean to bring back bad memories of your heroin days.