"Here I am. Rock you like a hurricane. Here I am. Rock you like a hurricane," you sing along as you play a sick solo courtesy of the legendary band Scorpions. The plastic tapping of your guitar-shaped controller feels so familiar, and Guitar Hero 3 might just be the greatest video game you have ever played. So, what happened?
The original Guitar Hero was released in 2005 and marked an exciting time in video game history. Its success and following sequels helped make the "music" genre one of the most popular ones in the world. The release of Rock Band and the premise of "getting the whole band together" helped to create some of the best living-room concerts of all time. However, this leads to a big question: what happened to instrument-shaped controllers?
Rise To The Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame
The "music" genre was a powerhouse of home consoles everywhere. Inspired by their work creating hardware for the arcade game Guitar Freaks, RedOctane called upon Harmonix to help develop Guitar Hero. Armed with a guitar, gamers around the world could become Rock Gods. After the release of the original Guitar Hero, the video game industry would surely never be the same. The franchise exploded and led to various developers rushing to get their piece of the pie. Market saturation could be a major component in the decline of its popularity.
The Rock Band franchise took the premise of the gaming with a guitar and expanded it to include a full band, complete with two guitars, a microphone, and a drum set. Gamers could now live out their dream and rock the world (or at least their room of choice) with their friends. This changed the course of history for the new genre of games. In fact, the Guitar Hero franchise even tried to capitalize on the "entire band" setup with Guitar Hero: World Tour.
Spin-offs came left and right and included heavy hitters like The Beatles: Rock Band and Green Day: Rock Band. Others tried - and failed - to match the success of the Rock Band and Guitar Hero franchises, such as DJ Hero, Rocksmith (learn the guitar and have fun at the same time. Cool, right?), and others, but Rock Band and Guitar Hero stood above the rest of the competition.
When Did We Lose Our Sound?
Like countless rock bands before, the fame of "music" genre games didn't last and all that's are the memories of the franchises rocking our worlds. What happened to us getting our friends together to jam out with the newest Rock Band or shred "Through The Fire And The Flames" on Guitar Hero 3?
As time progressed, interest in the "music" genre declined. However, many still question what happened and why such incredible games were so quickly forgotten.
Maybe we, the gamers, evolved, just like our consoles. Maybe the focus on graphics and realism forced the "music" genre to take a bow and exit the stage. Or, maybe the games were never meant to have any staying power and instead existed to rock us to the bone before they (or we) got too old to put on a cool show anymore.
Fading Into Obscurity
These rock legends wouldn't go down without a fight, though. The Guitar Hero franchise released Guitar Hero Live in 2015, which was set on reinventing the series and boosting the popular franchise into the spotlight once more. Critical reception was great, but the sales didn't follow. Rock Band gave a go at the promising VR market and released Rock Band VR in early 2017. It was a cool game that utilized ever-evolving technology, but it was never able to achieve (or even come close) to the heights of the franchise's earlier pioneering titles.
The accolades of the genre will always hang on the wall proudly, but all good things must end (and all great bands eventually stop putting out music). What was once a cultural phenomenon has become all but an obscure moment in gaming history. If you look closely, you can still find those who love the games and play them to this day. You can even pick up some equipment yourself at local used game stores, but the star power of the "music" genre seems to have faded.
Will The Band Ever Get Back Together?
Can the band get back together or is all hope for a resurgence lost? It's too hard to tell if franchises like Guitar Hero or Rock Band will ever come back. Even if they did, it's even harder to tell if they will be able to come even a bit close to the success they had in the past. We're sure many fans would welcome the franchises back with open arms, but it is entirely possible that the games might be met with disinterest today, thus putting an end to the series once and for all.
Maybe we will have the second coming of the "music" genre sometime down the line, but for now, it's time to accept that this may never happen. The band has officially broken up... at least for now.
Guitar Hero and Rock Band will always have a place in our hearts. They pioneered an entire genre of games that allowed us all to live out our rock star fantasies - even if we never picked up a real instrument our entire lives. They inspired an entire generation to appreciate music that came before (and during the craze) and the legends that cemented themselves in history.
The games were able to capture the cultural zeitgeist of the moment and provide us with hours of guitar shredding we will forever cherish. We will never be able to hear "Through The Fire And The Flames" without claiming we can easily beat it on expert. Rock on, everyone.