Gaming Flashback – Guitar Hero

As Activision disbands the rock sim franchise, Stuff looks back at the best gigs Guitar Hero ever played

Guitar Hero (2005)

Fake plastic instruments and computer software went back at least as far as the Commodore 64, but Guitar Hero added a much-needed lick of cool with its Gibson SG-shaped controller. The rocking pick bar and five-fret button neck were simple enough to master, but it wasn’t long before we all grabbed hold the whammy bar – with mixed results.

Killer track – Motorhead, Ace of Spades

Guitar Hero II (2006)

The first edition had been a PS2 exclusive, but with GH II, the Xbox 360 fraternity finally got their hands on a plastic guitar – this time an exclusive Gibson Explorer replica. The game outsold the original by two to one and was one of the biggest titles of the year.

Killer track – Lynyrd Skynyrd, Free Bird

Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock (2007)

Arguably the pinnacle of the series (although you won’t find us arguing), GH III went truly multi-platform and was the first to come to Sony’s new PS3. The new Gibson-flavoured controller was a Les Paul (as favoured by Slash, who appeared as a playable character in the game). Rage Against the Machine’s Tom Morello also put in an appearance.

Killer track – Eric Johnson, Cliffs of Dover

Guitar Hero: On Tour (2008)

In 2008 Nintendo’s DS had placed itself at the top of the portable gaming tree. Guitar Hero: On Tour introduced the Guitar Grip accessory, a stylus shaped like a guitar pick and even a limited edition GH-branded DS. It looked meaty and cool, but gameplay was expectedly fiddly.

Killer tracks – Rick Springfield, Jessie’s Girl

Guitar Hero World Tour (2008)

Rock Band had come out and introduced us to a world of multiplayer band action – guitar, bass, drums and vocals. Guitar Hero bowed to the pressure and introduced drums and vocals to the line-up, as well as a more grown-up feeling guitar controller and the ability to create your own tracks in the Music Studio. It was good. But Rock Band was better.

Killer track – Van Halen, Hot for Teacher

Guitar Hero, iPhone app (2010)

They took their time, but while many games tried to be too clever when porting to Apple’s phone Guitar Hero laid-down a stripped down set of six songs, charged £1.79 for it and made it work for the touchscreen medium. It obviously didn’t compete with the console versions, but that didn’t matter. What did is that by 2010, Guitar Hero has lost its novel shine.

Killer track – The White Stripes, Seven Nation Army