2010 will be remembered as the year Rock Band got real and Guitar Hero went Looney Tunes. And that’s a good thing for both: They need to be as different from each another as possible for both to survive.
Guitar Hero: Warriors of Rock has taken a lot of recent critical bashing for its emphasis on fantasy and power-ups, but I welcome its return to some of the fun and goofiness of GH3. I’m actually glad it features a fat, over-the-hill guitarist morphing into a giant pig. In fact, I hope Guitar Hero goes even further bug-crackers next year. I hope it goes all Gitaroo-Man on us! Guitar Hero should be fun, over-the-top, cartoonish, loud, and jaw-droppingly weird. I think it’s heading for the right territory. If more of the track list appealed to me and it didn’t cost $60, I’d be playing it right now.
Rock Band 3, out later this month, heads in a more musician-focused direction. Already known for its RPG-like Tour Mode and vast downloadable library, the franchise now introduces keyboard support, more customization and an optional play-it-for-real Pro Mode. For me, it boils down to this:
Real keyboard + Werewolves of London = Me on board.
As the future unfolds, I hope Guitar Hero stays crazy. I hope Rock Band keeps adding a dozen songs a week. As someone who’s loved music games from Parappa to Frequency to Gitaroo Man and Elite Beat Agents, I wish them both success. And I thank them both for coaxing amazing performances and DLC management out of Wii.