Feb 13th, 2008
My brother (aka Uncle Bob) and I have been plotting for some time to get a Wii for the niece/nephews. I have been wanting to play a video game called Guitar Hero for ages. Can you say “ulterior motive”?
Now, Court (bro-in-law) says I only come over to play Guitar Hero, rather than to visit the niece/nephews. Not true. I come over to play *with* the niece/nephews. Violet and Dash are both better than me. Jack-Jack is a little young for it.
For those who don’t know, Guitar Hero lets you “play” classic rock and heavy metal tunes as part of a rock band. You choose your avatar (see mine at the right) and you pick a song to play. The game comes with a guitar controller that is a kind of miniature plastic guitar with five buttons on the neck and one “string” button to “strum” on the body. As the song plays, a series of color dots appear on a guitar neck on the screen. You have to press the corresponding buttons on the guitar and “strum” the note at the same time in order to score points.
Warning: the first few times you try this game, you will suck. And when you suck, the audience starts booing. Try not to take it personally.
Once you make it through a song, you’ll earn some money for the gig. It’s fun to go to the store and pick out new guitars or outfits. My avatar now has a sweet all-purple leather outfit. I’ve also bought a new guitar, but new outfits are more satisfying. Nobody said Guitar Hero was about the music…
Before you go judging me for leading Violet and Dash into Nintendoland, let me just say that I have tried to turn it into an educational experience. Dash is taking guitar lessons now (on a real guitar with strings, not buttons) and he has a cool teacher who is teaching them guitar riffs from Jimi Hendrix and Cream. So I’ve downloaded those songs (Purple Haze and Sunshine of Your Love) on the iPhone and let him listen to the real thing. We’ve gone to YouTube to look for videos of Hendrix playing Purple Haze live.
My biggest complaint about Guitar Hero is the small number of songs by female rockers available. But I’ve used it as an opportunity to show Violet some old videos of Heart, whose Barracuda is one of the most fun songs to play in the game.
I’m almost done playing my “career” through the Easy level. All that’s left is a guitar battle, a kind of competitive contest against a computer character, to the tune of The Devil Went Down to Georgia. Dash and Violet are already on the Medium level, and I might have to accept the fact that they will always be better than me. Unless I get my own Wii…
[2/15/08 Update: I'm a rock goddess now. I had to wait until the kids went to bed though, so I didn't get heckled for all my failed attempts. And Medium level is going to be soooo hard for me.]
Aunt hack ratings:
Age group: 7 and up
Duration of activity: 30 minutes minimum; if you’re not careful you could play this for hours. I recommend against that–it doesn’t set a very good example.
Cost: Nintendo Wii: $250; Guitar Hero III: $90. Guitar Hero is also available for PC/Mac, so you wouldn’t need to buy the Wii, although from what I’ve read, the Wii is more responsive
Child/aunt fun ratio: 50/50. Until it’s bedtime, and then it’s 100% aunt fun.