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Revolutionary: Guitar Heroes are made, not born

Mike Sylvester

Every (other) Tuesday, Mike Sylvester brings you REVOLUTIONARY, a look at the wide world of Wii possibilities.

Within a few days of Guitar Hero III's release, the scripting community was already at work picking apart the Les Paul guitar shell that came bundled with it. What they discovered was that it basically functions as a remolded and remapped Classic Controller. The obvious application of this new-found knowledge would be to write scripts for Guitar Hero clones on the PC, or to even use the controller with the soon-to-be-released PC version of Guitar Hero III.

With script in hand, courtesy of Mario Valenzuela, I thought I'd introduce a friend to my old favorite GH clone, Frets on Fire.

My friend, Masayver, grew up an impassioned gamer, but in years of late he'd seemingly lost interest in favor of other hobbies. Occasionally, he'd dabble in console gaming, but only long enough to play through the latest Halo or Gran Turismo, afterwards he'd sell his system to someone more apt to enjoy it for the long term. After surveying the wares -- existing and forthcoming -- of the now-gen of consoles, he bought himself a monolith (despite this fanboy's efforts to recruit him into the Wii-side). He's been disappointed in his purchase, often citing lack of "anything worth buying for it," but with me lending him all the new games I buy (but don't have time to play) for my own Blu-raystation, he's slowly turning back into a gamer.

Seeing his dedication to games of skill like Super Stardust HD, where he's ranked in the top 100, I felt it was high time to introduce him to something that gamers flock to. I have to admit, my intentions were not entirely benevolent. You see, I wanted someone to take my place in the shooting of this week's videos, because last time I played this game in front of a YouTube audience, I took a lot of flak for my inability to "pick the strings" like a rock god. I've apologized in advance to my buddy for subjecting him to the heckles he's in line for, regardless of his novice abilities.

Frets on Fire is an open source game that copies the basic "strum while holding fret buttons" formula of Guitar Hero, and little else. There's no Star Power or whammy bar tremolo, and the behind-the-fret-board theatrical presentation of the Guitar Hero franchise is also absent. What it does have is an importing feature, which lets you rip tracks from the PS2 discs for Guitar Hero and Guitar Hero II (and possibly Guitar Hero III) and play them without having to unlock or buy them through career earnings. It was conceived for play with an inverted PC keyboard, using the F1 through F5 keys as the fret buttons and the Enter key to strum notes. It's also possible to play with a PS2 guitar controller using a PS2 to USB adapter, or the Xbox 360 guitar. As you'll see below, the Wii guitar works just as well, and sweetens the deal with wireless connectivity.

After a 30 minute crash course in both Guitar Hero III for the Wii, and Frets on Fire on my PC, my friend felt ready to perform as the cameras rolled.

And with that, a self-confessed Guitar Hero addict was born. Immediately after shooting these videos he was off to the store to pick up a copy of Guitar Hero III for his PS3. This week's Revolutionary may have come across as light on Wii and what makes it so terrific, but in an indirect way this story is exactly what the Wii is all about. A special controller and a non-traditional game have revitalized a gamer's spirit. Non-gamers can be affected in a similar way, being converted to gamers, as I've seen happen with plenty of people who have been introduced to Guitar Hero or Dance Dance Revolution games. There was little involvement of the Wii itself, but the "Wii Effect" was at work.

The Wii Guitar functions as a Classic Controller, but it does not identify itself to the Wii as one, so there's no playing of Super Mario 64 with it. The limitation is strictly on the console end, so GlovePIE scripters are free to do play whatever games they want with it. If you have any suggestions for PC games you'd be interested in seeing the Wii Guitar scripted for, let me know in the comments.

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