As video gaming has become more and more interactive, the music genre has emerged as one of the more popular ones, especially among teens. With controllers that resemble actual instruments, people can live out their fantasies of playing in a rock band while interacting physically with the games.
Two games that are leaders in this area are Rock Band and Guitar Hero. Rock Band is developed by Harmonix Music Systems and MTV Games, while Guitar Hero was developed by Harmonix initially until 2007, and then by a company called Neversoft thereafter. Rock Band can be played on the PlayStation 2 and 3, Nintendo Wii, and Xbox 360. Guitar Hero is available for all these platforms as well, and there’s also a version for the PC and Mac. In addition, MachineWorks Northwest released a version for mobile phones in 2007, and the game can be played on the portable Nintendo DS as well. So, Guitar Hero definitely wins the award for best compatibility.
Both games also use instrument-like controllers, although Guitar Hero only comes with a guitar, while Rock Band has several different instruments that can be used with the game. These include the lead guitar, bass guitar, drums, and a microphone for the vocals. The guitar controller is based largely on the Guitar Hero guitar controllers, with similar usage. It is modeled after the Fender Stratocaster, and the same kind of controller is used for both lead and bass guitar parts. Guitar Hero uses controllers modeled after various Gibson guitar models, depending on which gaming system it’s being used with.
Rock Band’s drum controller features four electronic drum pads, with a pedal on the floor to simulate the bass drum. A different colored ring surrounds each pad, and this color corresponds to the notes on the screen that the player is supposed to play. The microphone is just a normal one with a USB controller, and most other USB microphones can be substituted.
This brings us to the next point, which is that the concept of the two games is slightly different, in that with Guitar Hero the object is for a player to excel at playing the guitar. With Rock Band, the concept is taken a step further, as multiple players come together with different instrument-like controllers to simulate a real rock band.
Sales have been brisk for both games, with each one selling multiple millions of copies each year. However, Guitar Hero outsold its rival almost by a factor of three in 2007, and remains the more popular game. One possible reason for this is that Rock Band is the more complicated game, with multiple instruments and parts. Guitar Hero is more simple and singular, and doesn’t take as much of an investment in both time and money. Besides, everyone wants to be the lead guitarist, right? Another possible reason for Guitar Hero’s success over its rival is the amount of national advertising that’s been done to promote the game. Several memorable commercials have been run touting the Guitar Hero game, with one clever one featuring Slash from Guns-n-Roses emerging from the shell of a person playing the game. But while there is a disparity in sales between Guitar Hero and Rock Band, the genre remains a popular one, and experts are predicting continued success for both of these games.