WEB MASTER TUCKER HOTTES on rocking that plastic guitar
Remember Rock Band?
I can barely move my wrists. My fingers feel gnarled and nearly useless, and making a fist sends a shooting pain down my forearm. Goddamn Rock Band. You see, I took a fairly long hiatus from playing plastic instruments, mostly because I had a pretty busy 2012, and when I could sneak in video game time, I was playing new releases.
To back up a bit, I have been an avid plastic guitar player since the very first Guitar Hero was unleashed on the world eight years ago. I was a fan of the spirit of the game even long before that. Harmonix, the original developer (and now developer of Rock Band), made a couple of excellent music games that followed what would become the formula for all future music games: hit the buttons sliding down the screen in the right sequence at the right time. Sure, Dance Dance Revolution was doing something sort of similar, but Harmonix found a way to bring it to the couch.
Over the years, I’ve played and owned almost every title in the plastic instrument genre, including the lesser-quality Guitar Hero sequels that came out after Harmonix abandoned the name to create Rock Band. My devotion is even deeper than the games — I mostly bought the Guitar Hero sequels for the guitar bundle. See, the software guys Harmonix might have left the franchise, but the publisher kept on RedOctane, the guitar hardware makers. As a result, the games might have been crappier, but the hardware was far superior to the Rock Band guitars’ floppy strum bar and mushy buttons.
Over the years, I’ve also racked up a fairly impressive song library in Rock Band through the in-game imports and copious amounts of downloadable content. I enjoy the other instruments that the game supports, especially when I can get a group of people together to play, but at heart I’m a plastic guitarist for life. I may not be on par with the insane kids you see in YouTube videos (everyone watches people play plastic guitar games on YouTube, right?), but I haven’t really met a song I can’t at least squeak through on Expert.
Back to the weekend. Sunday morning, I was waiting for friends to start trickling in to watch the game. I had some time to kill, as I had already done all my house prepping and beer chilling, when my gaze fell on the plastic guitars gathering dust in the corner behind my couch. I picked up the newest one off the pile (Guitar Hero 5-era guitar, as far as I’m concerned the pinnacle of plastic guitar construction) and decided to play through a few songs.
A while later, the first two friends walked through the door. “Sweet, Rock Band! I haven’t played in forever!” And that was all she wrote. I had planned on finishing tearing through Iron Maiden’s “Powerslave” and turning the game off to sort out some kind of activity for my newly arrived guests, but when the song ended I was immediately met with, “…can I get a turn?” Of course, I’d be the world’s worst host and plastic musician if I had refused.
Hours later, and a few trips to the virtual music store, and half of us could barely grip our beers. The act of dragging chips through dip was agonizing. Days later, I’m still sore. But we rocked out, and rocked out hard. And I have a feeling I’ll be keeping the dust off those plastic guitars for a while.