I was a little shocked by the announcement at first, since it was only a few years ago that it was impossible to escape from the Guitar Hero phenomenon. I was certainly addicted to it for a time.
On further reflection, however, I don’t think it should be too surprising. I think the business model of Guitar Hero was pretty much doomed to failure anyway. In the beginning it was a great new novelty and a lot of fun because we had never experienced a game like it before. Sure, there had been musical rhythm games in the past, but none of them preyed upon the air guitarist hidden inside all of us. Don’t lie – we’ve all done it, and Guitar Hero basically said “it’s okay, so have we, so why not have some fun with it?”. And it was, for a time.
The problem was that each successive release of the game was… well, it was essentially the same thing all over again. The graphics would be slightly improved, the mechanics tweaked and refined and the shape of the controller changed. But that was never what we really cared about with these games. Nobody ever said “hey, check out the hammer-on/pull-off mechanics on the latest Guitar Hero!”. No, it was all about the songs. In the end it ultimately boiled down to this; £40 for a new list of songs. A list of songs in which there would be, maybe, 10 you really wanted to play. The rest would be inconvenient hoops you would have to jump through before getting to the real rocking-out.
I think an even greater emphasis should have been placed upon downloadable content when the series hit the current generation of consoles, sticking to one release of the game and offering customisable song packs, and not releasing more and more versions of what was basically the same game. I also feel that the addition of the ‘band’ element was the beginning of the end and by the end it felt as if the game had become or a jack of all trades and a master of none.
It is a shame, though. There is still Rock Band, but I always preferred the feel of the earlier Guitar Hero games. They were straight-up, no-nonsense, in your face shredding nirvana. I guess I’ll have to just keep rocking it with my copy of Guitar Hero III.