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  • Awesome Music: Kinda the whole point. Out of the box you get "Welcome to the Jungle", "Cult of Personality" (both in GH3), "Livin' on a Prayer", "Today" (World Tour), "Take Me Out" (GH1), "Woman" (GH2; both these were in Smash Hits too), "Du Hast" and "You Give Love a Bad Name" (GH5), "Bat Country" and "Children of the Grave" (Warriors of Rock) as just a taste of the tracks. Want more? Download "Sister Christian", "Stricken" (which also was in GH3 already), or themes for James Bond and Top Gun.
    • Band specific games (Metallica, Aerosmith, and Van Halen) give you each band's famous, best, and significant tracks, particularly those that launched/boosted the bands' careers or were chart toppers/bestsellers.
      • Examples from Van Halen: "Jump", "Panama", "Running With The Devil", "Dance The Night Away", "Ain't Talkin' 'Bout Love", and "Eruption"
      • Examples from Metallica: "Battery", "Master of Puppets", "Creeping Death", "Fade to Black", "For Whom the Bell Tolls", "Seek and Destroy", "Welcome Home (Sanitarium)", "Orion", "One", "Dyers Eve", "Enter Sandman", "Sad But True", "The Unforgiven", "Fuel", "Mercyful Fate", "Cyanide", "My Apocalypse"... in fact, practically all the songs.
      • There's also many awesome songs by other artists on Metallica, including "Ace of Spades", "Hell Bent for Leather", "Stone Cold Crazy", "The Boys Are Back in Town", "No Excuses", "Evil", "War Ensemble" and "Toxicity" to name a few.
  • Breather Boss:
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    • "Cathedral" In Guitar Hero Van Halen for example.
    • In the final 7-song gigs in World Tour, there's a song in the middle to give you a break from all the insanely hard ones; for example, "Overkill" on guitar.
    • "Number of the Beast" and "Cliffs of Dover" are nowhere near as hard as the other final-tier songs in GH3.
  • Broken Base:
    • The announcement of Live didn't amuse former fans due to the fact that it requires new guitars because of the new game structure, and DLC won't be transferred from a generation to another, unlike Rock Band 4. Many fans were also displeased that the 3D rendered venues and the ability to create your own character of previous titles will not be included.
    • The inclusion of non-rock songs on the Live soundtrack, featuring the like of Calvin Harris, Skrillex, Bruno Mars, and Charli XCX, is seen by some as a cheap attempt to appeal to the pop crowd. To be fair, rock songs still make up the vast majority of the soundtrack, there being roughly 20 rock songs for every one that isn't.
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  • Cult Classic: Even today, as it's forgotten, the series still has its hardcore fans.
  • Ending Fatigue: Some songs that are over 6 minutes long tend to get repetitive after a while, provided they are not Epic Rocking. The worst offender however is the live version of "Do You Feel Like We Do?", which lasts about 14 minutes, in Guitar Hero 5. At least five minutes of that song lack any notable guitar (though they try to make up for it by letting you play Bob Mayo's electric piano solo, which eats up a bit of the gap). Thankfully, Guitar Hero: Warriors of Rock adds a meter alongside your score to show you how far into the song you are, which does avert this trope considerably.
    • People who first started the series on III, Legends of Rock, had as one of their choices for starting out was Story of My Life by Social Distortion. This song is almost five minutes long and there's very little change in tone to inform someone unfamiliar with the song when it's going to end.
  • Ensemble Dark Horse: Midori. She's the only female character who doesn't look gothic or tough and has a unique, appealing design, plus some pretty cool bonus costumes. It helps a lot that she's Japanese. In fact, Danny Johnson (world record holder of "Through The Fire and Flames" on Expert of Guitar Hero 3) used her to break the record he didn't hold at the time!
  • Even Better Sequel:
    • Guitar Hero II improved Hammer On/Pull Off Notes (They can be tapped), added Bass and Rhythm guitars, Added Pro-Face off and Co-Op Modes in multiplayer, and a Practice option either during a song, or in Training Mode. The Xbox 360 version goes the extra mile by adding 10 exclusive songs and some of the best songs of the first game as DLC.
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    • Some reviews have ranked Guitar Hero: Metallica as the best title in the GH franchise, giving praise to its impressive setlist (most songs translate well to playing with a plastic guitar), the introduction of the Expert+ difficulty for drums, a revised career progression system that allows players to complete career mode without beating every single song, and nifty special features such as behind-the-scenes videos and MetalliFacts. The band being involved with the game definitely helped. While difficult on higher difficulties, the charts are fair.
  • Fake Difficulty:
    • In the original Guitar Hero game, doing Hammer-ons and pull-offs was so hard some players just decide to strum all the notes instead. This was drastically improved in II.
    • Tremolo picking is much more difficult then it has any right to be, because you have to get the rhythm completely perfect. The timing windows overlap, so it always removes the closest note, so as soon as you miss a note, you are almost certain to miss a few more. It's even worse when there are NO DRUMS and the rhythm shifts constantly (SCREW YOU Holiday in Cambodia on expert!).
    • RAMPANT in III due to awful charting decisions (particularly an egregious overabundance of three-note chords) that made many songs that weren't particularly difficult on real guitar into hand-cramping nightmares, with "Before I Forget", "Stricken", and "Raining Blood" being among the worst offenders.
  • Fandom-Enraging Misconception: Accusing players who use Hyperspeed of cheating. In older games, it was more of a Broken Base, since Hyperspeed was activated via a cheat code, but Guitar Hero 5 and onward explicitly put it in a different menu.
  • Fan-Preferred Couple: Based on several fan art and cosplay pics found on the web, a lot of people seem to think that Axel Steel and Casey Lynch would make a cute couple.
    • Ditto for Johnny Napalm and Judy Nails.
  • Fandom Rivalry:
    • On top of the Rock Band rivalry, there seems to be a number of rather incensed Occidental Otaku who insist that these games are not "real" rhythm games as they are American-made, insist Guitar Freaks is superior, and actually support Konami's dream of suing Activision and/or Harmonix out of business.
      • In fact, they attempted this before. When that failed, Konami instead tried to cash in with Rock Revolution, and failed spectacularly.
      • Without getting too deep in the debate, Guitar Freaks has three frets instead of five, no Hammer-on/Pull-off system, and no bass guitar gameplay. On the other hand, it came first, has music specifically made for the game, and some gameplay gimmicks not found in the US games. The fact that its soundtrack is comprised mainly of in-house compositions rather than rock classics and hits is debatable, but beside the question.
      • To be honest, the whole franchise could be a Captain Ersatz of Guitar Freaks, since Konami refused for years to release the Guitar Freaks games in the U.S. The creators of the game at RedOctane outright admitted they were inspired by GF, during a trip to Japan, to build their own guitar controller and design the game to work with it.
      • The Arcade game of Guitar Hero was made with Konami's partnership with Activision and Raw Thrills, though the game is based off the GH3 engine for seventh-gen consoles (Including the PC, but not the Playstation 2 and Nintendo Wii).
    • For a while, there was a one-sided rivalry from players of actual music instruments towards GH players, believing that those people should stop playing and go take up playing a real instrument instead.
  • Gateway Series: If the reaction wasn't older fans of most of the artists used getting pissed off and musicians seeing them as shameless posers, the games have been praised for introducing several classic rock n' roll bands and songs to people who'd otherwise have never heard of them and even encouraging some players to actually learn how to play music.
  • Goddamned Boss: In the form of a song: "Because it's Midnite" is infamous for a hair-raising solo out of nowhere in the middle of an otherwise very easy song. It's only 12 seconds long, but has a blistering 174 notes (keep in mind the song as a whole is 540 notes). Even the "unbeatable joke songs" like "Jordan" don't have such density. The only reason most players can finish the song is the very generous star power right before the solo.
  • Good Bad Bugs: Occasionally, a song where the instrumental part ends before the vocals will have the last bit of the song cut off. If this happens with the Red Hot Chili Peppers' "Suck My Kiss" in Guitar Hero III, the song will end with simply "Your mouth was made to suck my—"
  • Hilarious in Hindsight: In Band Hero, you can play and sing "Honky Tonk Women". The singer will do some wonderfully hammy hip sways and arm gestures during the song. And one of the characters you can use as your singer is Adam Levine, so he literally can have the moves like Jagger.
  • It's Popular, Now It Sucks!:
    • You'll frequently hear people declaring they liked the first two entries in the series (developed by Harmonix) far more than the ones that follow (developed by Neversoft, Vicarious Visions, and whoever else Activision can scrounge up), though the latter entries in the series have sold more units and raked in far more money. Granted, in some cases this may actually be a justified complaint, given the developer and publisher switch and Activision's handling of the series.
    • One aspect: the second game had a mix of popular and lesser-known songs chosen for how dynamically interesting and complex they were to play. Lots of riffs and fills to spice things up. But III, the first self-consciously 'popular' entry, had far more party standards, resulting in a lot of songs that were just jamming the same power chord over, and over, and over...
    • Although most people agree that this trope is Justified in Band Hero. Considering that a good chunk of the artists featured (such as Duffy, Nelly Furtado, the Spice Girls) are neither known for their Drumming, guitar or bass skills.
  • Moment of Awesome:
    • Play Bohemian Rhapsody on GH: Warriors of Rock. The band members will imitate part of the videoclip and will sing all the harmonies. It's kinda unrealisitic how the guitar keeps playing while the guitarist is singing, but that's Rule of Cool and/or Rule of Funny.
    • How about when the drummer somehow manages to beat the bassdrum rapidly without flinching with just one leg (even if you equip him with a double bassdrum kit) when performing Motorhead's "Overkill", which runs at about 276 beats per minute (so the bass drum is played at over 550 kicks per minute!)? See a demonstration by Midori here.
  • Narm:
    • If you unlock Times Square in guitar Career, up to 3 of the licensed characters in World Tour will take the stage with you in the final set. This final set includes Los Lobos' La Bamba. The singer is... Ozzy Osbourne. (At least the final set contains songs by artists sung by Male vocalists.)
    • The "La Bamba" scenario above happens if you play as Lead Guitarist solo in Career mode. Try playing as Bassist instead and make it to the Times Square gig, and watch Ozzy sing the other Mexican track in the game, "L'Via L'Viaquez". Yep he seems to know his Spanish quite well. And what's more, the bassist you pick will sing along in the Spanish lines as well, and since the game would normally assign Sting as bassist if the player doesn't take the position... Also, the lead guitarist in this case is... Zakk Wylde, and if you have a keen eye, it turns out he sings along too.
    • Kurt Cobain and Johnny Cash being able to sing any song in GH5 is also these. They're probably rolling in their graves anyways.
    • Back to World Tour, play "Beat It" with Zakk Wylde as your vocalist. The image of Zakk Wylde moonwalking (not just that; he dances just like Michael Jackson during the final chorus) will haunt you FOREVER.
      • Also, Taylor Swift doing the YMCA; just select Taylor as your character when you play vocals. You'll probably fail the song due to laughing so much, but it's possible. Also, try exporting the song to Guitar Hero 5 and picking Kurt FREAKING Cobain doing the dance. And people think it's bad when he can sing other people's songs.
      • Heh, try performing Jackson 5's "ABC" (whose lead singer is Michael Jackson when he as a child), and try not to laugh at whoever male singer gets assigned to do the (high pitched and kiddie) vocals, especially if it's Adam Levine! In fact chances are the only one who wouldn't look so ridiculous in that role would be Midori in her tomboyish outfit.
      • While the lead vocalist normally gets locked into the appropriate gender of the song in Band Hero (there are quite a few exceptions actually), the backing vocalists (if the song has any) definitely don't. Try having a male guitarist while peforming the Spice Girls' "Wannabe" (which has the lead guitarist sing/rap some of the lyrics in solo, including one lengthly passage) Try to keep your composure when watching this video of Johnny Napalm singing/rapping Ginger Spice's lines in "Wannabe" (never mind the short, big headed male lead vocalist singing the lines of all the other Spice Girls, or even the voice of the actual male player singing the song for real).
    • "Pretty Fly (For a White Guy)" (both as lead vocalist, and when reciting the "Give it to me baby!" line as a result of being assigned either as lead guitarist or bassist), and moreso when they were doing the "vocalizations" (AaaaaaaaAAAAAAAHHHHHHH!!!!) of Tenacious D's "Master Exploder". And it got cranked Up to Eleven when Eddie was practically screaming in Judas Priest's "Painkiller".
    • One that's more like Narm: watch your singer interpretation in "21st Century Schizoid Man" in GH5 while he sings the first verse. Hoo boy, what an actor.
    • Apparently, in Warriors of Rock, Lars' followers are LOYAL TO HIM LIKE DOGS.
    • The Demigod of Rock, played by Gene Simmons, who sounds like he's having a ball with lines like "When this is over, I'm gonna ride you like a pony!"
    • Speaking of making any character sing any song, Warriors of Rock can take the Narm Up to Eleven since it can import all exportable songs from GH5, World Tour, Smash Hits, and Band Hero, and it comes with its own motely crew of characters. And now that the new cast includes a Minotaur, the Demigod of Rock, and Prince Arthas, you can get them to do almost any of the crazy antics mentioned above. Imagine getting any of them to do the "YMCA" dance, sing "L'Via L'Viaquez" or "ABC", or sing any song with female vocals. Now that would be fun.
      • Imagine no more - watch Arthas take the stage and do the YMCA here!
    • On the subject of dance moves, there are times when a character will robot dance. For example, the singer will do it when playing Electro Rock on World Tour (but not 5, Band Hero or Warriors of Rock), playing Mr. Roboto on Band Hero or playing Symphony of Destruction (on the line "Acting like a robot" no less!) in 5 onwards. You can also make your own characters robot dance by choosing the "Rockubot Hustle" option when choosing your stage presence in World Tour and its spinoff games.
  • Nightmare Fuel: The Warrior transformations, while awesome, can be pretty creepy with the exception of Pandora. Here's an overview:
    • Johnny becomes a grinning blue skinned lunatic who randomly teleports and crawls up walls.
    • Echo is literally Strapped to an Operating Table with a look of genuine fear on her face as she is risen on a pedestal to be struck by lightning.
    • Judy is attacked by a column of hellfire and turns into a demon with a horrifying if kinda cute face and a single battered bat wing.
    • Austin has his head removed by ghostly bats as he screams in pain, fully conscious.
    • Lars clutches his chest suddenly as if having a heart attack and falls to the floor, clawing desperately before becoming a werepig.
    • Casey peels off her own skin in front of a live audience and becomes a snake hybrid.
    • Axel ages a million years in a tomb and bursts out as a mummy with an exposed ribcage.
    • The song "Red Lottery".
  • Offscreen Moment of Awesome: The version of Quiet Riot's "Metal Health" which appears in Rocks the 80s doesn't have the guitar solo in the middle - instead, you just play rhythm corresponding to the bass parts in said solo (because Quiet Riot didn't have a rhythm guitarist). Before the game was released, the song was supposed to have the solo, but it was Dummied Out presumably to avoid the Difficulty Spike, since it was the first song in the first tier. But still this would've been awesome instead of what we got (the linked video is from GH2 's demo version, by the way).
  • Porting Disaster:
    • Guitar Hero 5 on PS2. Why did they even try? It lacked many of the new and innovative features from the other versions (i.e. party play, the improved multiplayer), and even visibly looks like it was built on World Tour's engine.
    • The PC port of Neversoft's first episode (III) has been criticized too, due to very high required specs and frequent slowdown, which makes playing at higher difficulties impossible. World Tour does a fairly better job, although it's still rather hard to play if you don't have a good machine (i.e. one of the best computers available around 2008-09) - and the worst is, word has been around after release for a patch to address performance issues, but Aspyr never cared to do it (III at least had one).
  • The Problem with Licensed Games: While both the Aerosmith and Metallica games were praised, Guitar Hero: Van Halen was lambasted (poor graphics and extras, lack of Michael Anthony and Sammy Hagar, and the fact that only 25 of the 45 songs are by Van Halen themselves).
  • Replacement Scrappy:
  • Scrappy Mechanic:
    • The guitar battles were so despised by players that they were removed following Guitar Hero World Tour.
    • And even in World Tour, the guitar battles were simply like the Face-Off Multiplayer in previous games. Alternating phrases, no gimmicks, whoever can get the meter more to their side wins.
    • The touch slider. Whenever anyone even attempted to use this thing, they were essentially guaranteed to lose their streak due to the freakishly high sensitivity and the inexcusably far distance down the neck their hand has to travel. Adding on to that, it frequently got in the way of more experienced players trying to tap frets with the strumming hand. It was such a bother that many regular players just turned it off; predictably, touch slider support was scrapped entirely in Warriors of Rock.
      • By extension, slider notes, especially in World Tour. Experienced players almost unanimously hated this mechanic due to the underlying mechanical differences compared to hammer-ons/pull-offs, involving anchoring, timing, etc. Slider notes went on to be more similar to HOPO's until Warriors of Rock, where they were outright replaced with "tap notes" (which function identically to HOPO's, only with no initial strum).
  • Sequelitis: Probably what killed the series. At one point six GH games were released in one year (2009, which had Metallica, Smash Hits - both of which use the World Tour engine - , 5, Band Hero, Van Halen - these three sharing a common engine - and Modern Hits on the DS), not counting the DJ Hero spinoff.
  • Some Anvils Need to Be Dropped: Austin Tejas' introduction in Warriors of Rock. "What use are a man's talents if he keeps them to himself?"
  • Spiritual Licensee: It's basically an American GuitarFreaks.
  • That One Level: several examples of this: Bark at the Moon, Jordan, and Through the Fire and Flames all come to mind, not to mention Cowboys From Hell, Free Bird, Raining Blood, One, and many, many others, especially among the bonus songs.
    • Bonus Boss song Jordan was, allegedly, originally included as an "unbeatable" joke. Ditto TTFAF and the downloadable version of The Devil Went Down To Georgia. TTFAF, which plays over the end credits after the main game is beaten, is commonly regarded as the most difficult song to perform in the history of the Guitar Hero series, and completion of the GH 3 version of the song is one of the hardest things to do in any video game; the band behind it, Dragonforce, never completed the game version of it successfully on Hard. You only get a "good luck" comment on the harder difficulties, and completion gets you an "inhuman" achievement on some consoles.
    • Jordan and TTFAF are at least optional. The final set in Guitar Hero 3 (where you're in Hell) was considered such a sudden and unreasonably hard Difficulty Spike (The Number of the Beast, Raining Blood, One AND Eric Johnson's Cliffs of Dover all in one set, climaxing with the boss battle against Devil Lou) that it was actually considered the game's biggest misstep.
    Yahtzee: No. Stop. Do not reach for your email client, I do not want to hear about how you five-starred Blood Rain (sic) on expert, because if you did you are a fucking freak! A freak with either three arms, or a trained pet spider working the buttons for you.
    • In the previous tier, "Before I Forget", and, to a decidedly lesser degree, "Stricken" were massive pains in the ass thanks to some absolutely atrocious overcharting that did not reflect how they were played on a real guitar. The former was a hand-cramper extraordinaire with an extreme overabundance of three-note chords, plus a brutal bridge with nonstop two-note chord transfers, while the latter made up for its easy verses with tons of equally unnecessary three-note chords, annoying chord transfers, and a nasty (and heavily overcharted) solo.
    • The Tool "gig" in GHWT, which features three songs by the band, is That One Boss when it comes to Drum career. Good thing it's optional.
    • "Do You Feel Like We Do (LIVE)" on Guitar Hero 5. There's an achievement for making it past the 95% mark, no matter if you pass or fail after that point.
    • "Done With Everything, Die For Nothing" by Children of Bodom, from the same game, however, is power chord HELL, and a prime example of Fake Difficulty. Activision loves overdosing on chords, it seems.
      • DWE, DFN is also frequently failed on Drums-Expert - moreso than Expert+ - due to a bug the developers insist is not there. Sure, you can clear the whole chart with 92% notes hit, but try and full-combo some of those fast bass runs on Expert and you'll tear your hair out.
      • Guitar Hero 5 also gives us the pure, unadulterated vocal cord rape that is "Under Pressure".
      • Iron Maiden's "2 Minutes to Midnight" is no slouch on vocals, either.
    • Ignoring the obvious songs/solos (Eruption for guitar and Hot for Teacher for drums), We have I'm The One on Guitar, with what is most likely the fastest strumming run in GHVH (second being the much longer strumming run in the opening solo of Little Guitars, which is much easier overall). It might be a good idea to save whatever star power you can accumulate for that specific part.
    • 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.
  • Ugly Cute:
    • Franken Rocker from GH 5 is pretty sweet looking for a tin-man with bolts sticking out of his head.
    • Some of the warriors may count, especialy Judy.
    • The kaiju thing appearing in the encore for Harajuku. (Band Hero)
  • Unexpected Character: Guitar Hero Live features Alter Bridge, The Black Keys, Royal Blood, Disturbed, System of a Down among others, including... Ed Sheeran, Skrillex, Calvin Harris, Bruno Mars, and Charli XCX?
  • Uncanny Valley: The singers in Guitar Hero III—they were based on the same basic designs as their counterparts from the Harmonix-era Guitar Hero games, but were retooled with odd facial proportions. And then their mouths were mo-capped to sing along with the songs you're playing.
    • The male singer, at least. The female singer and Bret Michaels don't look all that bad. And Steven Tyler (considering that Aerosmith is a Dolled-Up Installment of III) is, well... Steven Tyler.
      • Every male character in all Neversoft installments (read, since GH3) is this - and that means both established characters (Axel Steel and Johnny Napalm are the worst offenders, and - fair warning - let's not get to Riki Lee without shades) and random rockers that World Tour generates every time you play a song or setlist. Those jawbones are just... plain... wrong. And don't let me get started on the sunken cheeks. And we can't even get them to a proper shape with the face modeling in GHWT and later games - which is funny, because these features age the character by around 10-20 years, yet they have an "Age" option where you can choose "Teen". Interestingly, that doesn't seem to affect guest musicians; people like Kurt Cobain and Billy Corgan have a realistically-built face with a realistically-lined jaw.
      • Actually, the male characters in 5 and Wo R are much better looking.
      • Matt Bellamy is an exception as he has been given eerie, milky eyes that don't blink.
      • While the other band members in III move around just fine, the drummer is incredibly stiff and moves like an animotronic puppet.
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