Sunday, December 25, 2005

What did I get for Christmas? Addicted!

Hope all you folks are having a great holiday. We've seen almost all of our family on both sides, and enjoyed each other's company immensely. As far as I know, everyone has either gotten what they wanted or something better, so that's a pretty good score on the Gift Index.

Maddie got clay and art materials. Ross got the Mace Windu ForceFX Lightsaber. Ellie got a drum set. Marci got lots of cleaning equipment, body armor and earplugs (actually, she got an iPod Nano). What did Daddy get?

Well, besides some books and a game or two I wanted for the PSP (and some clothes that are on backorder -- "Ships within 24 hours" my foot), I got Guitar Hero. Sounds lame, you say? Well, that was what I thought, too.

First, I'm a techno-snob, and the PS/2 is getting a bit long in the tooth. The XBox is really a more sophisticated system, and both the XBox and the PS/2 are pocket calculators next to the multi-CPU 3.2 Gigahertzness that is the XBox 360. I had mentally written off the PS/2, and even though I take magazines like Game Informer, PS/2 titles didn't draw my interest. The PS/3 will be out this spring/summer, and the PS/2 is a legacy now. I had vaguely read a review or two about this game, the capsule review is "Dance Dance Revolution with a Guitar", and since I was awful at DDR that was all I needed to know. NEXT!

Then a couple of Saturdays ago we were in Best Buy (known in our house as 'The Daddy Store') and Guitar Hero was the demo game. Not wanting to dismiss the game entirely until I had played it, I picked up the half-size guitar with a strum bar and five fret-buttons, cued up "More Than A Feeling" by Boston and I. ROCKED. OUT. MAN.

The buttons you're supposed to press slide down a video fret board to you, and you have to strum to hit the right "notes". If you're on time and on the right note, the guitar part in the song plays and sounds like you're expecting. If you're not on time or if you hit the wrong note, you get the plaintive "ploink" that all beginning (or in my case retired beginning) guitar players know and hate -- the Muffed Note Of Failure.

Aaahh...but success is the closet thing a lamer like me with a barely-functional left hand (I'm just clumsy, not handicapped) will ever come to playing in a band and making music. I was hooked immediately, and would have bought it then had BB had any in stock. They didn't so I 'had' to go back several times last week to 'see' if they had any more -- and play 'Smoke On The Water' and 'I Love Rock & Roll' a few more times.

Yes, I know this is ridiculous, and that point was brought home to me while standing in the aisle at Best Buy, proud of myself for finishing a song and not getting booed offstage, when Platnium-selling Country Music Artist Neal McCoy walked down the aisle behind me, smiled and waved. That kind of put it in perspective, sort of like playing Schroeder's piano really well in front of Van Cliburn. Stick to reading films, buddy.

Nevertheless, I finally found the game at Circuit City, opened it last night and I think I'm getting calluses from the non-existant guitar strings, and probably carpal tunnel, too. I've beat it on 'Easy', and now I'm just a few songs away from beating it again on 'Medium', with 'Expert' and 'Hard' left to go. The 'Easy' level only used combinations of three keys, Medium uses four of the five fret keys and a slightly more frenetic pace, which I assume will become close to impossible at the higher levels. Funny thing is, the less I think about what to do the better I perform...go figure. I guess the music interpretation and rhythm prediction portions of my brain are not used to taking the foreground.

If you have a PS/2, get Guitar Hero. Bring your guitar to my house when you come visit and I can stomp you (unless you're David or Todd, in which case I'm probably in over my head) in Head-to-Head Mode. It ROCKS!


Anonymous said...

I saw where some reviewer gave Guitar Hero a "Game of the Year" award. It's still hard for me to believe it's cool, but everyone who reviews it says it's great.

By the way, when you get an XBOX 360, if you like driving, you might try PGR3. I got it for Christmas, and in the "cockpit" view, it gives a whole new meaning to realism in racing games.

And speaking of Todd, he's playing the Texas-Ex's pre-Rose Bowl party in California on Jan 3rd.

I know this is primarily an ACU reader base, but if anyone's going out, here's the link to the flyer for the show:

Merry Christmas to all,


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