Game Review: ‘Guitar Hero’ for iPhone

With all the craziness of E3 last week, we didn’t get much of a chance to kick back and enjoy our regular dosage of playing games, watching movies or reading comics. Instead, this reviewer got gaming in nice short casual samples. The iPhone was the perfect medium for this. Waiting during a commercial break before a press conference started or killing a few minutes while uploading or downloading new videos to the site, casual gaming dominated last week. One of those casual games that helped pass the time was Guitar Hero.

No, don’t worry. There is no plastic guitar peripheral to add to your iPhone to make it work. Instead, Guitar Hero works similar to a DDR system where falling notes need to be pressed when they hit the bottom of the screen. Separating it from just being button presses, Vicarious Visions has added some unique Guitar Hero moves like swiping your finger down the “strum” bar, connecting notes and star power.

As with all Guitar Hero games, gameplay and control is everything. While it is different to play a screen tapping game than plastic guitar controller game, the basic feel of the series is still there. There is a little bit of a learning curve adjusting to the new moves like the note swipe but that is quickly corrected with a few songs.

Track difficulty doesn’t change much. The Expert tracks are moderately more challenging than the Medium versions of the same song, often just sped up with a few extra note moves tossed in there.

As players go through the song list, they earn experience and progress through a level system which unlocks more clothing options for their avatar. Each song has a set of accomplishments as well based on difficulty, note streaks, use of star power or other achievements that unlock additional experience and avatar items.

The weakness of the App comes from its limited song list. With only six songs included in the initial download, people will quickly yearn for more music to play. This can be remedied through song packs at the cost of roughly $0.66 per song. This could quickly add up to a hefty cost to build a library of music for a still casual game.

Overall, iPhone / iPod Touch’s Guitar Hero is a perfect bite sized helping of the music game genre. You can get in and out in roughly three and a half minutes from booting up the App to closing it and have a fun time with it. The control isn’t as perfect as it is limited by a button-less control scheme. Occasionally, especially for gamers with bigger fingers, botched notes will occur and interrupt perfect streaks. Despite its small flaws, it’s hard to go wrong with the game’s inexpensive price.

Six Tracks come with the initial $2.99 iPhone / iPod Touch App store purchase

Rolling Stones – “Paint It Black”
Rise Against – “Savior”
Weezer – “Say It Ain’t So”
White Stripes – “Seven Nation Army”
Queen – “We Are The Champions”
Vampire Weekend – “Cousins”

Six additional song packs, featuring three songs each, are available for $1.99 per pack:

Song Pack featuring Queen
“Another One Bites The Dust”
“Fat Bottomed Girls”
“Killer Queen”

Song Pack featuring The Faint, Minus the Bear and Silversun Pickups:

The Faint – “The Geeks Were Right”
Minus the Bear – “Secret Country”
Silversun Pickups – “Substitution”

Song Pack featuring Band of Skulls, Obits and The White Stripes:

Band of Skulls – “Death By Diamonds And Pearls”
Obits – “Two-Headed Coin”
The White Stripes – “Blue Orchid”

Song Pack featuring Darkest Hour, The Dillinger Escape Plan and Protest the Hero:

Darkest Hour – “The Tides”
The Dillinger Escape Plan – “Farewell, Mona Lisa”
Protest the Hero – “Limb From Limb”

Song Pack featuring A Day to Remember, AFI and Breaking Benjamin:

A Day to Remember – “I’m Made Of Wax, Larry, What Are You Made Of?”
AFI – “Medicate”
Breaking Benjamin – “Diary of Jane”

Song Pack featuring Vampire Weekend

“A-Punk”
“Giving Up The Gun”
“Holiday”

Score: 7.5

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