Powered by Google
Editors' Picks
Arts + Books
Rec Room
- - - - - - - - - - - -
Adult Personals
Adult Classifieds
- - - - - - - - - - - -
FNX Radio
Band Guide
MassWeb Printing
- - - - - - - - - - - -
About Us
Contact Us
Advertise With Us
Work For Us
RSS Feeds
- - - - - - - - - - - -

sponsored links
- - - - - - - - - - - - -
Sex Toys - Adult  DVDs - Sexy  Lingerie

  E-Mail This Article to a Friend

An axe to grind
Guitar Hero lets the average schmo shred

» Video

Guitar Hero trailer

» Related Stories

Guitar Hero heroes: Graveyard BBQ score a videogame hit. By Mike Miliard.

Games People Play: North America’s only independent music-video-game-development studio is flying under the radar in Central Square. By Camille Dodero.

» Related links

Guitar Hero, Red Octane's official page with character bios, downloadable screenshots, and streaming audio track's from the soundtrack.

Harmonix Music Systems, Inc., Cambridge-based Web site of the music video-game creators of Guitar Hero and the Karaoke Revolution franchise.

Guitar Hero's MySpace page

Dan from Oklahoma beating Guitar Hero on expert:
    • Pantera, "Cowboys From Hell"
    • Ozzy, "Bark at the Moon"

» Playlist: Guitar Hero’s local singles

• The Acro-Brats, "Callout" Anarchy Club, "Behind the Mask"

Anarchy Club, "Behind the Mask"

• Artillery, "The Breaking Wheel"

• The Bags, "Caveman Rejoice"

Count Zero, "Sail Your Ship By"

Din, "Fly on the Wall"

• Freezepop, "Get Ready 2 Rokk"

Graveyard BBQ, "Cheat on the Church"

• Honest Bob and the Factory-to-Dealer Incentives, "Hey"

• Made In Mexico, "Farewell Myth"

• Monkey Steals the Peach, "Guitar Hero Theme"

• The Model Sons, "The Story of My Love"

• Shaimus, "All of This"

• The Slip, "Even Rats"

• The Upper Crust, "Eureka! I Found Love"



You are Axel Steel. You have rock-hard biceps. You wear ripped jeans, white Velcro high-tops, and a sleeveless denim jacket with an iron-on back patch of Lucifer’s head. You are a metalhead adaptation of Thing from the Fantastic Four. And you were put on this planet for two reasons: to drink beer and to rock.

So here you are, the hulking would-be star of a cover band that keeps changing names. You hammer out riffs on a Gibson Flying V and jab the air like a boxer when you hit the notes in White Zombie’s "Thunderkiss ’68." You learn to recreate other people’s songs so well that a club booker invites you to headline an upscale nightclub Red Octane. There, you nail a Megadeth solo, tilt your hesher axe to the sky, and the crowd goes bat-shit. You are a rock god — never mind that you’re in your living room, holding a toy guitar plugged into a PlayStation 2, fingering five colored buttons that are synchronized to mimic lead-guitar fretwork.

You don’t have to be Axel Steel to play Guitar Hero, a brand-new release from Harmonix Music Systems Inc., a Cambridge-based video-game studio known for its Karaoke Revolution franchise. (See "Games People Play," News and Features, May 7.) You can also be Clive Winston, a limey session guitarist wearing bell bottoms, a vest, and red-tinted glasses. Or Pandora, a headbanded blue-haired waif expelled from ballet and Girl Scouts. Or even the Grim Reaper, slinging a stringed scythe across your black-shrouded frame. These names could become as ubiquitous in gaming culture as Cloud, Solid Snake, and GTA’s CJ.

Guitar Hero’s objective is modeled after what most people would consider a musician’s typical career path (albeit one that involves covering other people’s songs). You start in a dingy basement, flanked by a glowing furnace and a washing machine, trying a pre-determined playlist (i.e., Joan Jett’s "I Love Rock-n-Roll" or Deep Purple’s "Smoke on the Water"). Every single you finish you earn more cash. Finish four out of five songs in each venue, and you get a bigger show. Next thing you’re onstage at a dragon-and-viking-themed stadium called the Garden, trying to master Ozzy Osbourne licks in front of computer-animated thousands.

A game like Guitar Hero is something of a risky proposition, since the required plastic-guitar controller boosts the product’s retail price from an average of $40 to upwards of $70. But thus far, the increased expense hasn’t been an obstacle: Guitar Hero hit shelves in early November, but it’s already gone gold. MTV Games has partnered with the game’s publisher, Red Octane. And critics have overwhelmingly gushed about it — everyone from Stuff magazine to Official PlayStation magazine. IGN.com, a gaming site owned by Fox Interactive Media, ranks Guitar Hero eighth out of 3247 PlayStation 2 games, only falling behind such blockbuster titles as two Grand Theft Auto versions, two Metal Gear Solid releases, and Resident Evil 4.

Guitar Hero’s success can be attributed, in part, to the fact that Harmonix’s staff knows well the genre it has painstakingly recreated. Harmonix vice-president of product development Greg LoPiccolo and Guitar Hero audio lead Eric Brosius played together in the Boston alt-rock band Tribe. Creative director Josh "Robotkid" Randall once fronted automaton-punk band the Institute of Technology. Audio director Kasson Crooker is one-third of the synth-pop trio Freezepop. Art director Ryan Lesser played guitar in the Laurels, runs the Providence noise site LotsofNoise.com, and appears on Guitar Hero as part of the Harmonix supergroup Monkey Steals the Peach, along with GH producer Daniel Sussman, from pop-punk trio the Acro-brats. Sound designer Izzy Maxwell, son of Noise publisher T-Max, plays bass in Count Zero. Also involved in the project were members of Honest Bob and the Factory-to-Dealer Incentives, Lightning Bolt, Made in Mexico, and defunct rock bands such as the Amazing Crowns and the Model Sons. And when I head over to Harmonix’s Central Square command center last Friday, associate producer and de facto marketing liaison Helen McWilliams greets me in a Slayer T-shirt and a Miller Lite wristband.

page 1  page 2 

Issue Date: December 9 - 15, 2005
Back to the News & Features table of contents
  E-Mail This Article to a Friend

about the phoenix |  advertising info |  Webmaster |  work for us
Copyright © 2005 Phoenix Media/Communications Group