Archive for Nintendo

Review: “Guitar Hero Van Halen” [Nintendo Wii 2009]

Posted in Guitar Hero, Van Halen with tags on October 18, 2009 by gearsofrock

Amazon GHVHNeversoft and Activision did something very cool in these tough economic times and offered Guitar Hero Van Halen free to those that purchased Guitar Hero 5 prior to Oct. 1, 2009. As a free game, GHVH is another excellent addition to the franchise, but is it worth paying for?

Better tunes, better calibration: The hard rocking set list of 44 songs clearly outshine GH5’s tracks and that is the single make-or-break factor of all rhythm games. Additionally, the World Tour style instrument calibration is back instead of the awful experimental settings offered in GH5.

Lookin’ good: The avatars stage antics of Diamond David Lee Roth, Eddie Van Halen, and Alex Van Halen came out great. As you rock out on classics like “Beautiful Girls” and “Feel Your Love Tonight,” the game offers current day depictions as well as the 80’s style (see game trailer below).

Only buy if half-price: However, GHVH has several shortcomings that would have kept me from purchasing the game at full market value. You can tell that more effort and care was put into GH:Metallica than this game in terms of stage setups and overall band culture, as only half of VH’s career is accounted for. Therefore, I would only buy this if it is $29.99 or less.

You can’t do that: Furthermore, Van Halen had the audacity to leave Michael Anthony out of the game and then ignores the Sammy Hagar years all together (lack of Gary Cherone not a big deal). Instead of Anthony on bass, we are stuck with Eddie Van Halen’s chubby teen son Wolfgang, who has yet to record a classic album. It is very awkward to see Wolfgang in the band when the setting is the early 80’s. But I did hear somewhere that Wolfgang selected most of the non-VH tracks.

Crowd overkill: One thing that this game does different is the crowd participates and sings along with the hooks and choruses. At first, the increased audience participation took me by surprise and threw me slightly off my drum rocker. It turns out to be overkill because every track from “Panama” to “The Best of Me” by the Foo Fighters contains this feature.

3.5 StarsThis game is worth it for early Van Halen die-hards at full market price of $49.99, worth it for fans of the franchise if at half price, and worth it for everybody if free. Unfortunately the USA has limits on the practice of price discrimination -Meds

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Review: “The Beatles: Rock Band” [Nintendo Wii 2009]

Posted in Guitar Hero, Rock Band with tags on September 20, 2009 by gearsofrock

Amazon Beatles RBMove over Guitar Hero: Metallica, the best rhythm game to feature a single artist has just invaded the gaming market. The Beatles: Rock Band offers the most pleasurable rock and roll gaming experience that you will come across this holiday season.

Featuring 45 original and remastered studio tracks from each era of the band’s career, with settings such as the Ed Sullivan Theater, Shea Stadium (my personal favorite), the Budokan, and Abbey Road Studios, the spirit is very much alive as the portrayal of The Beatles culture is absolutely fab.

But, Mommy is making me choose; Guitar Hero 5 or The Beatles: Rock Band?: If you are a casual player and plan to buy only one rhythm game this year, then The Beatles: Rock Band is the way to go. For what it is, this game is flawless. However, if you are a serious instrument-based gamer, you will spend more time playing Guitar Hero 5 due to the higher number of challenging songs for the guitar and drums in particular, and also due to the wider variety of musical content.

Rectangles vs. Circles, and the real challenge: I find the circular notes of the Guitar Hero games easier to read than the rectangular or squared notes of the Rock Band series, but that is a personal preference of mine. There are times during game play when it was difficult to see the scrolling notes and beats on the RB engine. However, the vocal highway is superior to Guitar Hero’s vocal paths.

The most challenging element of The Beatles:Rock Band is the singing, especially on the Paul McCartney songs with falsetto parts. The John Lennon songs fall somewhere in the middle while the George Harrison and Ringo Starr tunes are the least straining. There are two options for the vocals; you can sing the lead solo parts or the lead solo parts with all of the harmonies. The latter is for the real sadists. My father, a true Beatles aficionado, performed for three hours on expert mode last night. We hope his voice will be back by the end of the week.

I own Guitar Hero: World Tour, will those drums allow me to live out my Ringo fantasies: Yes, the Guitar Hero drum kit is perfectly compatible with The Beatles: Rock Band for the Wii. Thank the rock gods for this as the standard Rock Band drums are highly unauthentic compared to Guitar Hero which includes the cymbal pads without buying all sorts of add-ons.

4.5 StarsThe Guitar Hero microphone and guitars also work like a charm. Check out the full compatibility chart from Rock Band here. I’d also like to add that the  manual instrument calibration on The Beatles: Rock Band is far better than Guitar Hero 5 which you really have to screw around with to get perfect.

This game scores major points for the Rock Band franchise but the war ain’t over yet. The official release of Guitar Hero: Van Halen is on the horizon -Meds

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Review: “Guitar Hero Smash Hits” [Nintendo Wii 2009]

Posted in Guitar Hero with tags on July 10, 2009 by gearsofrock

Amazon GH SmashSeveral months ago, one of my 9th grade history students, knowing that I spend far too much time playing games from the Guitar Hero franchise (even though I am a pretty sick real guitarist) asked me if I was going to buy Guitar Hero Smash Hits this summer. I shook my head and replied, “Nah, not feeling it.” My wife asked the same question as my student a few weeks later. “Nah, it’s a waste,” I told her. So what do I do on the day of the game’s release on June 16? I zip over to Target and purchase a copy of the game, bringing my GH expenditures to over $300.00 since December. I guess you can call me an addict at this point, a sad and pathetic case.

Why should I purchase Guitar Hero Smash Hits if I already own Guitar Hero 1, Guitar Hero 2, Guitar 3, Rocks The 80s, and Guitar Hero Aerosmith? You should not buy this game if you own the originals and only enjoy playing the guitar and bass parts. If you are obsessed with the drum kit (like myself), then it is certainly worth owning because some of the best tunes from the pre-World Tour releases are in the game. If you are one of the ten people in the world that plays these games for the vocals, then you too should get them game.  Additionally, all songs are the original artist recording, which was a rarity in the early days of the franchise.

Other than the song list, is Smash Hits any different from World Tour and Metallica? Smash Hits plays the same as the previous two console releases. This game has a new story line, which is similar to the old story lines, and the menu screen contains a new vibrant color scheme…oooooh, ahhhh.

Were the best songs and smashiest of hits really included in the game? For the most part, the game makers included the best tracks from the early games’ set lists, but several flaws must be noted. From Guitar Hero: The Exies and The Donnas are included instead of Black Sabbath (“Iron Man”) and Megadeth (“Symphony of Destruction”), not to mention Motorhead and Cream. From Guitar Hero II: Reverend Horton Heat and Avenged Sevenfold instead of, again, Black Sabbath (“War Pigs”) and Megadeth (“Hangar 18”). From Guitar Hero III: Priestess and AFI over Black Sabbath (“Paranoid,” see a pattern?)  and Pearl Jam (“Even Flow”). The Encore Rocks the 80’s track selection is pretty good and there is only one Aerosmith song (“Back in the Saddle”) included in the set which is perfectly fine with me.

3 StarsAll in all, Smash Hits contains a decent selection of the greatest hits, but only worth the money if you must have the full band feature and online capabilities (by the way, on the Wii it is virtually impossible to find anyone willing to battle on expert drums). In the meantime, World Tour and Metallica should be enough to hold you over until the release of Guitar Hero 5 on Sept. 1, 2009. -Meds

Set List:

Guitar Hero
Blue Öyster Cult – “Godzilla”
Boston – “More Than A Feeling”
Deep Purple – “Smoke On The Water”
Franz Ferdinand – “Take Me Out”
Helmet – “Unsung (Live)”
Incubus – “Stellar”
Joan Jett & The Blackhearts – “I Love Rock N’ Roll”
Ozzy Osbourne – “Bark At The Moon”
Pantera – “Cowboys From Hell (Live)”
Queen – “Killer Queen”
Queens Of The Stone Age – “No One Knows”
The Donnas – “Take It Off”
The Exies – “Hey You”
White Zombie – “Thunder Kiss ’65”
Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock
AFI – “Miss Murder”
DragonForce – “Through The Fire And Flames”
Heart – “Barracuda”
Kiss – “Rock And Roll All Nite”
Living Colour – “Cult Of Personality”
Pat Benatar – “Hit Me With Your Best Shot”
Priestess – “Lay Down”
Slayer – “Raining Blood”
Guitar Hero: Aerosmith
Aerosmith – “Back In The Saddle
Guitar Hero II
Alice In Chains – “Them Bones”
Avenged Sevenfold – “Beast And The Harlot”
Danzig – “Mother”
Foo Fighters – “Monkey Wrench”
Iron Maiden – “The Trooper”
Jane’s Addiction – “Stop!”
Kansas – “Carry On Wayward Son”
Lamb Of God – “Laid To Rest”
Lynyrd Skynyrd – “Free Bird”
Mötley Crüe- “Shout At The Devil”
Nirvana – “Heart-Shaped Box”
Rage Against The Machine – “Killing In The Name”
Reverend Horton Heat – “Psychobilly Freakout”
Rush – “YYZ”
Stone Temple Pilots – “Trippin’ On A Hole”
The Police – “Message In A Bottle”
The Sword – “Freya”
Warrant – “Cherry Pie”
Wolfmother – “Woman”
Guitar Hero Encore: Rocks the 80s
Anthrax – “Caught In A Mosh”
Extreme – “Play With Me”
Judas Priest – “Electric Eye”
Poison – “Nothin’ But A Good Time”
Ratt – “Round and Round”
Twisted Sister – “I Wanna Rock”

GOR Recommendation: Guitar Hero Metallica

Review: “Guitar Hero World Tour” [Nintendo Wii 2008]

Posted in Guitar Hero with tags , , , on December 27, 2008 by gearsofrock

amazon-guitar-hero-wt1If you love rock music and/or hosting parties then you must own Guitar Hero World Tour, the game where you and your friends play out all of those inner rock star fantasies. The band package, which runs close to $200, comes fully equipped with drums, guitar, microphone, and game.

The highlight of the package is the brand new “Guitar Hero” drum set that features a snare, tom tom, floor tom, elevated high hat, and elevated crash cymbal for a total of 5 drum pads. The elevated cymbals are a major selling point for rock nerds because it feels like a natural kit.

If you are using an LCD HD television then make sure you calibrate the drums to account for any audio and/or visual lags. The first time I played the game I had to hit the drums completely behind the beat, making the game highly awkward. All I had to do was go to “calibrate” in the “options” menu. The process takes about 20 seconds and the settings will save automatically.

While many have reported bugs with the drums, mine have worked just fine. People that experience technical difficulties should check out the Guitar Hero Community website. It contains tips and tricks for fixing the peripherals, such as the drum pads.

The updated guitar contains a slide feature that allows the player to tap notes and to slide between notes. The guitar is also more stylish and comfortable than the one from Guitar Hero 3 Legends of Rock.

For those that prefer to front the band, the Guitar Hero microphone and vocal highway game play makes anyone suitable for singing the rock anthems.

If you ever dreamed about playing alongside rock greats such as Ozzy Osbourne, Ted Nugent, Zakk Wylde, Jimi Hendrix, and Travis Barker then your prayers have been answered by this game. I just backed up Ozzy on “Crazy Train” and “Mr. Crowley,” with my drumming and I can tell you my adrenaline is still pumping.

On a side note: There have been rock stars and musicians, such as Chad Kroeger of Nickelback, that dislike the “Guitar Hero” age which has been going strong for 3 years now. Many feel that it prevents kids from learning the actual instruments.

While that may be true, the fact of the matter is that thousands of kids are now exposed to classic rock and roll songs that they never would have heard before if it wasn’t for this series. And because of that, I salute you game makers, and have since the beginning! Thank you. 9/10

Buy Guitar Hero World Tour

Addendum: Here is my attempt at playing the drums on expert for Metallica’s “Trapped Under Ice.” You can see this video on the brand new “Gears of Rock Presents” YouTube channel.