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Guitar Hero World Tour is Not For Babies
By Cyril Lachel     |   Posted on December 22, 2008   |   Episode 155 (Show Archive)  

   

Guitar Hero World Tour is not for Paris Hilton, either!
Lately Activision has been doing everything it can to remind people that Guitar Hero World Tour sold more units than Rock Band 2. They are bringing it up in interviews and sending out press releases, anything they can do to remind you that they are still on the top of the heap. How are they able to sell so many units? Could it be name recognition? Could it be their clever (albeit outdated) ads that parody Tom Cruise's dance scene in Risky Business? Sure it could be those things, but the truth is that Guitar Hero is doing well because they sold their soul to the devil.

Okay, maybe they didn't sell their soul, but it's hard to tell when you see every major retailer shilling for the product. Long after Heidi Klum, Tony Hawk and Alex Rodriguez were done starring in Activision's own commercials, retailers like Wal-Mart and Best Buy decided to take the reign. These days it's impossible to miss these unofficial Guitar Hero World Tour advertisements. But there's a troubling trend emerging that I feel needs to be addressed. I'm talking about a trend that should offend every hardcore guitar hero who has been playing since day one. We'll pick this up after this short video, see if you can find the troubling trend in these two commercials.



First and foremost let me apologize for subjecting you to a minute of commercial watching. I guess we're no better than your favorite TV show; we just look for ways to throw in annoying advertising. But I would like to believe that we're doing it for a different

C'mon, I get that you don't want to be there, but if you're going to fake it then at least look at the screen when you pretend to play!
reason; we're doing it in the name of science. We're certainly not doing it in the name of money, because so far neither Best Buy nor Wal-Mart has sent me a check.

Before I get to the point and talk about this troubling trend, I want to address a concern I have with the Wal-Mart advertisement. In the commercial the mom happily proclaims that she was able to buy an Xbox 360 Arcade unit and Guitar Hero World Tour at Wal-Mart, which is bringing her family together. That's all fine and dandy, but it's a shame that the Wal-Mart clerk didn't inform her that the Xbox 360 Arcade unit won't allow her to experience some of the best parts of the game. Sure you can play through the game's 80 song soundtrack, but you won't be able to create or download the user-created songs. And you can forget about downloading the weekly songs Activision has been promoting since E3. In other words, playing Guitar Hero World Tour on an Xbox 360 Arcade unit severely limits the fun you can have. I know that's a minor point, but it's the kind of thing that annoys me.

But what gets me about both commercials is how ready they are to sell Activision's newest music

Okay, fine, I'll confess, it's adorable when kids play Guitar Hero, but that doesn't mean that Wal-Mart has to use it in their advertising!
game as a family-friendly kid's game. That's not to say that kids can't have a great time playing (and watching) Guitar Hero World Tour. Who am I to say what a kid can and cannot play? But there's this push to turn Guitar Hero into this music game anybody can play, no matter how old you are.

This point is only hinted at in the Wal-Mart commercial, but there's no subtly when it comes to Best Buy's advertisement. Andre Sam (or is it Sam Andre, oh never mind) has fifteen minutes to convince us that Guitar Hero World Tour is THE game you should buy this holiday season. How does he do that? By highlighting the beginner mode. "And with the new beginner mode," he says, "all you do is strum. It puts you back on rhythm so that you really look like the rock star that you are." New beginner mode? All you have to do is strum?


Seriously, less posing and more looking at the TV screen!
So let me get this right, you have fifteen seconds to convince everybody that Guitar Hero World Tour is the game for them, and the way you do that is by talking about the beginner mode? THAT is the feature you think will sell people on the game? Not the fact that you can create your own songs and then upload them? Not that you can download user-created tunes, as well as band packs put out by Activision? Not that the game features more than 80 songs and a much better story mode? You ignore all of these things in order to announce a mode where all you do is strum? What is this world coming to?

Now don't get me wrong, I'm not one of those master guitar heroes that believes that everybody should play on expert. But there's a point where you dumb down the game so much that it ceases to be a game at all. If all you want to do is strum, then maybe Guitar Hero World Tour isn't for you. If you're at the point where all you want to do is strum your air guitar, then why not just listen to music. At that point you don't need to play a game, you

This isn't the kind of thing you would see Rock Band do!
can just imagine you're a rock star while listening to Barry Manilow cover Rick Astley's hits of the 1980s. Or better yet, you can pick up Wii Music and make everybody happy.

Since when did Guitar Hero World Tour need to appeal to four year olds? The game is rated T for Teen, after all. I get that Wal-Mart and Best Buy want to stress the family bonding angle, but just because it looks like you're playing on a Fisher Price guitar, that doesn't make it for kids. The game, with its sexy characters, soundtrack and storyline, is intended for teenagers and up. If you're at the age where all you can do is strum, then maybe Guitar Hero World Tour isn't the game for you. Maybe you should be playing through Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa or some other age-appropriate game.

This isn't the kind of thing you would see from Rock Band. Oh sure, they recently uploaded songs from the Naked Brothers Band and iCarli star, Miranda Cosgrove. But a few "kid's songs" in a sea of 500 songs is hardly the same as having four year olds rock out in a Wal-Mart ad. As a fan of both franchises, this just feels like a line in the sand. This is the kind of thing your rock and roll friends would look down on you for, selling out to the man. That isn't what rock and roll is about, and the sooner Activision understands that the better. Sure you'll get a few extra sales, but at what price? Now every time I hear about a new Guitar Hero game I'm going to be reminded that it is the music game for babies. Don't believe me, then maybe you should have another crack at that video.
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