Monday, May 24, 2010

Top 50 Games - 29. Guitar Hero II

Guitar Hero II is an important game. Some say the original Guitar Hero sparked the music game craze of the latter aughts, and they may be right, but I feel that its excellent sequel is the one that really wrote the genre into the pages of video game history. However, Guitar Hero II is important for more than just providing Activision with another cash cow. It served as my official introduction to the wonders of rock & roll. Of course I had listened to rock before, but never passionately; never of my own voracious accord. Picking up Guitar Hero's goofy plastic axe was a new challenge for me. I hopped into Practice Mode, selected Surrender by Cheap Trick on Easy (the game's first song in order of difficulty and one that now holds near-nostalgic value), and tried my best to hit the strum bar with the correct fret buttons held down as the colored gems dropped to the bottom of the note highway. It wasn't pretty. But that's part of what was so great about the early GH games that is lost forever; they presented gamers something new to learn and master. And learn it they did, as many Youtube videos can attest. In a world of big guns and bigger monsters, a game that let you live out your rock star fantasies was a breath of fresh air. As well-crafted and enjoyable as the gameplay is, the music is what makes this game, surprisingly, a keystone in my evolution as a cultural appreciator. While now I'm embarrassed of my "classic rock" phase, I'm extremely thankful that I was able to be so turned on to (usually) good music. In terms of music games, we may never have another 2007, but thank God we did, or else it might have taken even longer for the glory of rock & roll to have been revealed to me.

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