Originally developed by Harmonix, who are also the creators of Frequency, Amplitude and the Karaoke Revolution series, and went on to make Rock Band, Guitar Hero has become an extremely popular example of the Rhythm Game genre that plays like Guitar Freaks, but with five buttons instead of three and commercial songs.From Guitar Hero III to Guitar Hero: Warriors of Rock, it has been developed by Neversoft and published by Activision. Neversoft rebuilt their own Guitar Hero engine from scratch when Harmonix handed over the reins to work on Rock Band.After Guitar Hero: Warriors of Rock (Released in late 2010), development of all games in the series (including spinoffsDJ Hero and Band Hero) were cancelled, the Hero franchise was discontinued by Activision in February 2011, and Neversoft's Guitar Hero division was liquidated. However, in April 2011, Activision changed their tune, claiming the series was now on "hiatus" and they claimed that a new game would be released in 2012, focusing solely on the guitar gameplay with a new redesigned guitar controller; however, numerous problems plagued the project and was subsequently cancelled, and no new games in the series have been in development since.Games in this series include:
All Drummers Are Animals: World Tour describes Matty Cannz, the game's designated drummer, like this (even though you can play other instruments with him).
All Guitars Are Stratocasters: Averted. In the first three games, which were endorsed by Gibson, you could have Les Pauls, SGs, Explorers, and so on and on (even an EDS-1275, that double-necked one Jimmy Page played sometimes). Starting with World Tour, when Activision lost Gibson license, you could construct your instrument out of parts from others (5 had brand names like Ibanez and Paul Reed Smith to choose from). Plenty of options, but no pure Stratocasters here (especially because only Rock Band had a license for Fender instruments), just similars.
Animesque: The CG models have a slight influence, and is further played around with in the cutscenes from GH III and beyond note which for the most part is depicted as a mixture of this and American-styled comic books. These cutscenes here and here, both from the Co-op mode of GH III, utilizes the trope outright.
Artifact Title: from World Tour onwards, what with the addition of drums and vocals.
Artificial Stupidity: Lou in Guitar Hero III, but only when you hit him with an attack. He'll then miss notes that even a competent human player would hit while under attack. Outside of this, Lou is Perfect Play A.I..
Chuck Cunningham Syndrome: Of the recurring characters, Clive Winston, Eddie Knox, and Pandora were absent from III and Aerosmith, though all three returned in time for World Tour. Xavier Stone, on the other hand, was playable up to Aerosmith, but was absent from World Tour (presumably because Jimi Hendrix was in this one and, since Xavier had become an Expy of him, he was dropped) and hasn't been seen since. The singers, drummer, and bassist from the first five games were dropped from World Tour onwards, but their jobs had been taken by the player.
Couch Gag: The Loading Screen always has a different message on it. In early installments, these were linked to the songs themselves.
Cover Version: For rights reasons, any song that says "As made famous by" at the beginning is a cover; masters are prefaced by either "As performed by" or simply "By".
This was dropped from World Tour on, where they started to include only the masters - If you dont count the 2 covers as DLC then there are no more covers. The only covers now are professionally performed (for example, Van Halen's cover of "Oh, Pretty Woman").
Curse Cut Short: Expected from a series rated T at best, but the cover version of "Killing in the Name" in GH2 shows a great example, by using "Now you're under control" to cover up the repetitions of "Fuck you" in the original song.
But in the Smash Hits version of "Killing in the Name" The repeated line "Now your're under control" and the big "UNDER CONTROL!" (which replaces the "MOTHERFUCKER!!!" of the original) are removed. 'Course, they couldn't dub replacement lines over the masters, so yeah.
Difficult but Awesome: Tapping on guitar. Basically, you take your strumming hand off of the strumbar and use it to help with fretting. It's extremely difficult, especially with plain hammer-on\pull-off notes (in which one miss means you need to strum again before the game will accept anything), but it it makes full-combing some of the hardest songs more doable, such as Through The Fire and the Flames and Surfing With the Alien. Tapping is also a real-life technique, though like everything, it's simpler here.
Actually, it's much easier to tap on real guitar, considering the fact you don't have to strum again if you miss a note.
Demigod of Rock: When this is over, I'm gonna ride you like a pony.
Downer Ending: In GHWT, there are 5 bad endings (which are the true endings) for each finished mode. In Guitar mode: The magazine says that the Band sucks. In Bass mode, the bass character quits the band and goes solo. In Drums mode, the drums character gets shipped in a box, in a fallout nuclear bomb test and dies. In Vocals mode, The vocals character also dies from a statue-related disaster. And finally, at the end of the ending cutscene in Band mode, the evil guy (Who was only in one ending, featuring him, in full exposure) laughs evilly as if the game was mocking you!
Matty doesn't die in the Drums ending. After the bomb goes off, he's sitting there, all burned, and doing a horns-up with a smile in his face that seems to say "hell yeah!!!"
Also, the vocalist doesn't die when the statue falls. He's shown alive and well, shrugs, and sneaks away.
There are other interpretations of the endings. For instance, the bassist (who happened to be Shirley Crowley in GHWT) was frustrated at being overshadowed by the other band members as seen at the bassist career's intro video, so her going solo and releasing a successful album could count as a good ending for her. But then again, the evil guy (Lou) seems to have had a hand in it, so it could also be a case of making a Deal with the Devil.
Downloadable Content: Quite a bit of it, though nowhere near its main rival, for each main game of the series starting with the 360 port of Guitar Hero II (meaning not band-specific titles). For the most part, DLC is exclusive to the game for which it was purchased, but the Metallica album "Death Magnetic" for GH3 could be played in World Tour, and GH5, Band Hero, and Warriors of Rock support nearly all of WT's DLC with application of a patch.
Which, annoyingly, breaks the DLC index for World Tour, but... not really a problem, except for that obnoxious message GHWT gives in quickplay about it.
Early-Bird Cameo: Both "Juke Box Hero" and "Feels Like the First Time" by Foreigner appeared in the game (with the former as DLC, and the latter as a on-disc track on "Warriors of Rock") as re-recordings, prior to the release of the album "Feels Like the First Time".
Early-Installment Weirdness: The first game. With nigh-on impossible Hammer-ons/Pull-offs, only one multiplayer mode, and every cover version of a song in the main setlist, it's most likely that the dev team brought in the toughest for first.
That, or they did not anticipate it being such a hit, hence why it looks amateurish compared to later installments.
Earworm: I dare you to find less than five earworms on ANY Guitar Hero title. Especially applies to songs you had never even heard of before.
Easier Than Easy: The Beginner difficulty introduced with World Tour. It allows you to essentially play through the entire game by just strumming the guitar without needing to press any fret, or play the drums by hitting any pad in time. On the other hand...
Harder Than Hard: The Expert+ (drums only) introduced in Metallica to support double kick pedals to support double kick bass drums like the ones Lars Ulrich usually has.
In Warriors Of Rock however, it includes Ghost Notes in select songs.
Easy-Mode Mockery: Until the third game, you can't unlock anything by playing Easy Mode, and are repeatedly (condescendingly) told you should play harder difficulties. Also to boot, the final tier in II is unavailable if you play Career Mode on Easy. Oh, and you can't play any of the encores either.
Challenges on Guitar Hero 5 cannot be attempted on Beginner, and some are only possible at Expert (and Expert+ for drums) however there are some exceptions.
Fake Difficulty: plenty of it. Boss fights in particular combine the horrible concept of Mario Kart style battles with rhythm games. In Guitar Hero III, this can lead to an insane scenario where even if you're really good, the final boss on Hard and Expert difficulty is pretty much impossible to beat consistently without just the right combination of attacks thrown at you. That is, if you can survive and counter his first assault.
Guitar Hero 3 and World Tour are very bad at this, due to the spectacular overcharting of many songs, which still manage to miss a great many notes that the original guitarists play. This led to many players abandoning the series for spiritual successor Rock Band (easier in some regards, but also far more accurate), and many a flame war was brought against players for the only apparent reason to want more out of gameplay than "challenge".
Guitar Hero 5 has this with 3 of the NINE stars possible in each gig on Career mode (five for doing well enough in a song, plus one for maintaining a full combo, plus one for each of the three challenge tiers accomplished), as they usually have you doing things like alt-strumming a song that's not suitable for it, abusing the whammy bar (which might as well land you with a score below what you wanted — you know, it ain't easy strumming while you keep your hand in the strum bar), and tapping all the slider/tap notes. And that's just for guitar. Oh, and if you're not on Expert (or Expert+ on select drum challenges), you may find star #9 is impossible due to not having enough notes.
Guitar Hero: Metallica does this by only including one guitar track, even though the band uses two guitarists. The lead track alternates between James and Kirk, depending who is playing something interesting (read: difficult) during that part of the song. So you don't get any of the rest that they would.
Subverted in a few spots, even though it might initally seem otherwise, in Van Halen. Rock Band 2 vets will have to strum a lot more notes outside of the solos in Painkiller, but that's accurate given how it's actually played -- the notes are on different strings. Glaringly obvious later on at the end of the first solo when the chart follows the OTHER guitarist, who has sustain notes for all but two measures, before giving out the probably undercharted HOPO run at the end of the solo.
The James/Kirk alternation is subverted with the downloadable Suicide & Redemption, where rather than consolidating the guitar parts they released two versions, one with all James' parts, the other with all Kirk's. This does lean towards one song for the price of two though.
Follow the Leader: Originally of Guitar Freaks, and later, of Rock Band, from World Tour on. They were planning on making a separate drum game, and eventually integrate them - but MTV offered Harmonix the chance to do it all in one shot, so...
Warriors of Rock is accused of cribbing its aesthetics and themes from Brütal Legend.
Franchise Killer: Though its not one specific game responsible, the absolutely ridiculous number of released titles since Activision took over on the franchise in 2006 (and especially so since they booted Harmonix, who created the series in the first place, out of it in the next year - 13 new titles in the years between 2007 and 2010) have been pretty much confirmed to be the cause of the killing of at least the franchise, if the not the the whole band game genre.
Hardware edition again: Remember the early Rock Band drums, specifically the drum pedal? That was easily fixable without voiding any warranty. The red pad on the World Tour drums, on the other hand, stems from a loose wire inside the drum, and fixing it yourself violates the warranty on it.
In Guitar Hero 5, the Expert/Plus glitch that crops up on Expert wherever doublebass is charted on Expert+. In these sections, every other bass kick is treated as a "null note", which means pressing the foot pedal down where the null note is counts as a miss, making fast bass patterns damn-near-impossible on Expert. This results in some people clearing Expert+ before clearing Expert. Band Hero (and Warriors of Rock too), despite its subject matter, actually fixes this bug. Yet, Neversoft refused to patch it on 5.
"The Catalyst" is impossible to full-combo on Medium Guitar because a tap chord is charted, and is unhittable with any methods, even though the next chord is the same, and is charted as a HO/PO chord. Here's a vid.
Another example is in "All Nightmare Long" on Hard in GH3. (A ghost note here). This is fixed when imported into World Tour and beyond.
Midori is especially genki when assigned as a drummer, as seen in Guitar Hero: Van Halen, particularly in fast paced or drum heavy songs. See an example of her doing so here.
And despite the drastic makeover that rendered her beyond recognition, she's a lot genkier in Band Hero.
Genre Blindness: Since the games decided to add the song's genre to their general info and sorting options in 5, the creative team has done it on a hit-and-miss bases. For example: 3 Doors Down's "Kryptonite" is categorized as Southern Rock (which it's not by a longshot; it's alternative/pop-rock), Bob Dylan's "All Along the Watchtower" is placed under the Blues Rock header (it's actually folk), and Gorillaz's "Feel Good Inc." is said to be Hip Hop (it's indie/electronica).
Some of these were fixed in Warriors Of Rock. However, Fall Out Boy's "Sugar, We're Going Down" (originally Pop Punk) is now listed as Prog Rock, of all genres.
Even funnier is the fact that Guitar Hero World Tour, which had a 12+ rating, had the same song with censorship.
In Guitar Hero III, Red Hot Chili Peppers' "Suck My Kiss" has the ending cut off abruptly, so it becomes "Your mouth was made to suck my-" (cut to "You Rock!" message). In the original recording, Anthony Kiedis did sing "Your mouth was made to suck my kiss", but this cut in particular throws the song both here and into Curse Cut Short territory.
I Don't Know Mortal Kombat: In short, you are not guaranteed victory in this game just because you know how to play a real guitar. It helps to have a limber pinky, but that's pretty much it.
VH-1's 100 Greatest Hard Rock Songs proved this spectacularly with the "Celebrity Rock Band Challenge" segments, which featured real professional musicians sucking hardcore at Rock Band (which technically works just the same as GH). The most likely reason for this? Musicians usually aren't gamers, and rhythm games require strong hand-eye coordination—of the type you can only develop by being obsessed with video games.
Many have testified that having actual guitar experience will make you worse at the game than a complete novice. Unsurprising, since the controls work like a completely different instrument... namely a keyboard.
In Guitar hero Van Halen Cathedral, and Spanish Fly has only a guitar part, but Eruption actually has a drum and a bass part, however the majority of the notes is in the guitar part.
If that's not enough There's also "Speeding (Vault edition)" by Steve Vai, and "Black Widow of la Porte" by John 5 featuring Jim Root.
Irony: In Guitar Hero Metallica, the very first time you play some of the Metallica songs, sometimes James Hetfield will make various quotes, such as "Alright, who's singing along tonight?" If you're playing Orion...
Large Ham: Gene Simmons as the Demigod of Rock in Warriors of Rock.
Lawyer-Friendly Cameo: The person hired to brainwash the crowd in the Band intro (Wich doubles as the game intro) is Kenny G.
One of the unlockable characters in Warriors of Rock is Arthas Menethil from Warcraft III, as he appears after he becomes one of the undead (i.e. as a Death Knight). And better yet, he comes with his signature weapon, Frostmourne, which becomes his guitar!
Lighter and Softer: Band Hero, which, unlike the rock-heavy, T-rated Guitar Hero games, is rated E10+ and is filled with pop music, being intended as a more "family-friendly" version of the game.
Lizard Folk: Casey Lynch's warrior of rock transformation.
Loads and Loads of Loading: GH: World Tour, GH5 and Band Hero for the PS2 are fraught with long loading times, up to about 3 minutes in the case of GH5. On the plus side, on GH5, if you play a setlist on Quickplay, only the first song has the abnormally long load time, and loading the rest of the songs will be more reasonable.
Marathon Boss: "Do You Feel Like We Do (Live)" on Guitar Hero 5 and "2112" on Warriors of Rock (though only if all seven songs are played one after the other, such as in the campaign).
Warriors of Rock has another in the form of the final battle, but rather than a single track broken up into several parts, it's a trinity of Megadeth tracks (three Megadeth Tracks). Doesn't make it any less epic, though.
Likewise "2112" is broken down into its seven parts, so it's not as much of a marathon as DYFLWD (or "Free Bird" back in GH 2). Granted since these seven individual tracks are pretty short in length.
Metal Head: The character of Axel Steel is a stereotypical metalhead. Casey Lynch also appears to be an example of a female metalhead (though she leans more towards 70's hard rock). Then there's the character called "Metalhead" (A robot) if you want to be literal.
Mini-Game Credits: American Pie by Don McLean plays during the end credits of Band Hero. Appropriate, because the song is well known for being incredibly long.
Mission Pack Sequel (Guitar Hero Encore: Rocks the 80's — Guitar Hero Aerosmith, Metallica, and Van Halen are a little more involved, but not much)
The DS Guitar Hero On Tour series, which is entirely comprised of Mission Pack Sequels, with the first "On Tour" game being a random collection of just under 30 songs from a variety of eras and styles, "Decades" being the same, but with the songs separated by era (and "00's" and "Modern" being two separate tiers for no apparent reason other than there were too many 2000's songs to fit in one tier), and "Modern Hits" being a collection of just under 30 songs, all of which are from the 2000's.
Averted with the On Tour subseries, exclusive to the Nintendo DS.
Nobody Loves the Bassist: Played for Laughs in GH2 and 3 with loading messages such as "You need a mini-fridge in your practice space. It's more important than a bassist" and "You seem to have a problem with your bass amp. I can hear it!". Deconstructed in World Tour where, sick of being overshadowed by her bandmates, bassist Shirley Crowley signs a Deal with the Devil and ends up with more success than the others. Averted from Metallica onwards.
Ninja Pirate Zombie Robot: You can have this as a band in Guitar Hero 5. There's a Pirate costume, a Ninja outfit (the latter for men only), Kurt Cobain or Johnny Cash can be your undead revenant, and Shirley Manson is a Terminator. Sweeeeeet.
Taken to near extremes with Guitar Hero: Warriors of Rock, where the first four recruited characters get transformed into all sorts of abominations: Echo Tesla becomes Robot, Johnny Napalm becomes Nightcrawler, Judy Nails becomes a she-devil (complete with hooves replacing her feet), and Austin Tejas becomes a headless, um, whatever, then they get lumped together as a band in the 2112 mission.
Then there's the next stage of the Quest Mode: upon transformation Lars Umlaut becomes a Pig Man, Pandora becomes a Drow, Casey Lynch becomes a Gorgon, and Axel Steel becomes a Mummy! After all that, all eight of them combine their powers to battle a Humongous Mecha.
And if you feel like it, you can have a band with a robot (Echo transformed), a minotaur, and Arthas Menethil in it!
Nintendo Hard: Lou in Guitar Hero 3. No attacks at all during the first third of the song, so there's a 1-2 minute delay on every attempt before the actual battling begins. Then Lou obtains an attack before you can pick up one. On Hard and Expert, almost all the attack phrases are at least somewhat difficult to hit. Not to mention fast solos that are hard enough just to stay alive on normally, let alone when Lou throws an attack at you. Then finally a choke-able "finish him" part — especially if your rock meter was red when Lou failed.
On Expert, That One Attack from Lou that can make you fail from a fully green rock meter is Double Notes. Take a very fast solo. Then turn them all into chords! That's what happens.
Then there's the original guitar hero game, where doing Hammer-ons and pull-offs is so hard some players just decide to strum all the notes instead.
No Celebrities Were Harmed (Not always obvious, but many characters are based on real rock stars. Xavier Stone is an interesting case: as he was based on Jimi Hendrix, he was absent in World Tour, which featured Hendrix himself, among other licensed real-life stars.)
Not Quite Dead: Matty Canz in the Drum Career outro in Guitar Hero World Tour.
Noodle Incident: Judy Nails earned her nickname when she was seven, in what her bio describes as "a nail gun incident."
Old Save Bonus: Guitar Hero 5 and Band Hero can be augmented with songs (not all, just a few) from World Tour, Smash Hits, and Metallica, supposing the player uses a one-time code from said games' manuals and pays a fee (heavy, considering the small percentage of songs exported) for the cost of relicensing the songs. Neversoft has stated more songs will become added this way as they work out the licensing.
GH5 and Band Hero are also cross-compatible; a player can export a majority of songs from one game into the other.
Guitar Hero: Warriors of Rock can import all the exportable songs from all of the above, and thus can end up with a HUGE library of songs (as many as 500).
Many custom note chart authors from the Guitar Hero fan community were also picked up by Neversoft to write charts for their game. Of course, these were the sort of players who were already very, very good at the game and wanted to write harder charts to challenge themselves, which carried over directly to Guitar Hero 3...
Rank Inflation: Staring from the first four games, your score is represented on a five-star scale, though the lowest you can get is 3 as performance any worse would result in being booed offstage. From the 5th game and onwards, netting you the 6th star if you maintain a full combo. Reaching the goals for the bonus challenges in said game nets you up to 3 more stars for each song. And in the 6th game, with abilities like increasing your multiplier or saving your streak, you can obtain up to 40 stars in a single song.
Said 40 stars (or rather, learning how to earn 40 stars in every on-disc song in quest mode (Except the 7 2112 songs)) are necessary for the 100% Completion.
Even for the earlier games, the Score Hero website, having worked out the math used to determine star ratings in the game, extends this logic to create 6, 7, 8 and 9 star ratings. No song is 9-starrable, but 8 stars are possible on quite a few.
Double bass can swell the scores because there's simply so many more notes under the star power; the exported version of Overkill has an Expert+ FC which, if Score Hero ever updates to track the extended ratings post-GHA, will be good for 9.4 stars.
Sequel Difficulty Drop: Enforced from World Tour onwards, since Neversoft wanted the franchise to be more accessible.
Guitar Hero II dumbed down the hammer-ons and pull-offs a bit by no longer requiring players to hold both frets at the same time as they move up or down (as one would in real life). The Xbox 360 port took this even further by widening the gap allowed between frets just enough to mean the difference between beating "Woman" (which was also moved from the first tier to the second) on Hard or not. The added songs also meant that players could now pick a song from each set list to skip and still complete the full campaign.
Serial Escalation: Many examples, from the addition of extra instruments to the increased difficulty of the songs, but the best example is this: In Warriors of Rock, the cap for the amount of stars you can get in a song has increased from five to FORTY. (Only in Quest mode though, and only after clearing it once.)
Pretty much everyone got all grown up after the Art Shift when the franchise was passed from Harmonix to Neversoft. Axel Steel and Johnny Napalm, for example, looked like teenagers in the first two games.
There's also the Rat Cellar stage in the second game, based on the former Rathskellar club (famous in the 70's and 80's for punk shows) in Boston. Harmonix even snuck in a poster with the old Rathskellar logo on it in the background.
The only spoken line the third cutscene in Guitar hero 3 is a reference to the repeated line in "Two Princes", "Just go ahead now"
And you can download "Old Time Rock And Roll" for GHWT and beyond. It comes with some customised animations for the lead singer. Fun fact is, this very song was used for one of the GHWT TV ads, but did not come packaged with the game. Well the singer's entrance is exclusively packaged for Guitar Hero World Tour, But aside from that...
And there's newcomer Austin Tejas too, for that matter. Tell me you weren't thinking of Ichabod Crane upon seeing his Warrior form, pumpkin-guitar and all.
His name is a reference to Austin, Texas, or a pun on "ostentatious", i.e. OTT.
And then there's Axel Steel, who becomes a mummy. Bet someone at the character design team had listened to too much Powerslave at the time...
The Stinger: Guitar Hero 3 lets you play the Bonus Boss song Through the Fire and Flames during the end credits, but there's no energy meter and thus no risk of failure. This is because even those good enough to beat the whole game on Expert have no guarantee of even getting through the opening of that song without significant practice.
Aerosmith has Kings and Queens, and World Tour has Dream Theater's Pull Me Under. Neither is as hard as Through The Fire and the Flames (though the solo to Pull Me Under is pretty ridiculous), but they are played over the credits in the same un-failable conditions.
In Metallica, this extra song (The Thing That Should Not Be) is playable in a "final" venue of sorts, and doesn't appear automatically when just beating the final standard setlist song. GH5 goes back to the previous style with an unfailable 21st Century Schizoid Man. Not present whatsoever in Guitar Hero Van Halen, though.
And again, in Band Hero, with Don McLean's American Pie.
Updated Re-release: Guitar Hero II had an updated version for the Xbox 360 released a bit after the original PlayStation 2 version. It added a few new songs, rearranged the difficulty tiers, and had a new, fancy X-Plorer controller.
Up to Eleven: The volume controls in the first two games literally do go up to eleven. In the neversoft intro for the third one, it might say 11 but the sticky note says twelve.
Lampshaded by Guitar Hero III's loading message "It can always be much louder."
The band multiplier for Guitar Hero 5, for a full band, caps out at 11. 4x for full-band streaking, 4x for full band star power deployment, and an additional 3x for everyone hitting a band moment. This is also the only way you can meet the diamond challenge cutoff on the last challenge in the game.
Virtual Paper Doll: World Tour allows you to customize your characters' clothing, not to mention their face, in excruciating detail. And their body type, in much less detail. Smash Hits and Band Hero allowed for this too (even giving you Midori's Twin Tails hair as an option for custom females) as well as GH 5 and Van Halen. All four games also allowed for customizing the clothing of built-in and unlockable characters, though with more flexibility in Smash Hits and Van Halen (not possible however for the licenced characters like the Van Halen band members in Van Halen [the only options available for them are two different looks from different eras], and Taylor Swift, Adam Levine, and the members of No Doubt in Band Hero, who could not be customized at all).
Yoko Oh No: invoked One of the loading screen messages in World Tour:
When in doubt, blame the singer's girlfriend.
Yuppie Couple: Freezepop has managed to become a musical example. One Freezepop song showed up in almost every Guitar Hero game developed by Harmonix since one; this particular trope followed over to Rock Band when Harmonix switched to that series. (And then back again for the DS version... although the fact that the song was called I Am Not Your Game Boy means that it at least made sense for it to be there.) This owes largely to the fact that one of the members of Freezepop is a Harmonix employee.
Zettai Ryouiki: Midori rocks this look. Same with Judy Nails, at least in Warriors of Rock.