Every now and then an event occurs that brings up fond memories of past gaming lives. It may be a HD re-release, a new movie or even a sequel to a beloved classic. It is at moments like these that the nostalgia strings are pulled and the joys of games gone by flood our conscious thought. So in the immortal words of Deckard Cain, stay a while and listen as our writers take you back to a favourite moment in their gaming past. Welcome to “Those Were the Days”.
Those Were the Days – Legends of Rock
Once quite a few years ago my second son was born and as age-old tradition states I was required by the norms of society to participate in the customary “wetting” of the baby’s head. This evening started, as many do, in the local watering hole. Joined by a group of my closest friends and family we proceeded to consume pizza and amber beverages in equal measure as we celebrated the latest addition to my brood. At some point, we heard the dreaded “last drinks” call from the fine gentleman that served us for the evening and plans had to be made. As the night was young (about 12 from the vault of my admittedly foggy memory) I suggested that my home would be the ideal place to continue our celebration. So it was with a group of about 8 we walked home with a couple of boxes of cold pizza, a few bottles of various spirits and a smile on our face. But little did we know something was waiting for us at home, something that thrives on groups of merry, slightly tipsy people. That something was Guitar Hero and it made the night an event that I would never forget
The simple equation of booze + friends + Guitar Hero = a grand time most certainly holds true to this day but on that night it went above and beyond what I consider a fun night (I don’t know if that says more about me that it does Guitar Hero, I’ll let you be the judge) My brother, cousin and a group of close friends joined me in a night of bad singing and Rock Star fantasies that probably upset my neighbors as much as it entertained us. The plastic guitars were shredded, the drum kit bashed and those poor microphones heard singing that could be used as a torture device in times of war. For that glorious night, we were all members of Bon Jovi, Guns n Roses and Metallica. We were drunken metal legends strutting across our beige carpet covered stage.
And that was always the beauty of Guitar Hero and Rock Band. As a solo experience, the game’s novelty tended to wear thin fairly quickly but with a group of people they were infinitely playable. Sure I had played Pour Some Sugar on Me a thousand times but I was always up for one more run through with a good friend. The accessible nature of the game also made it perfect of non-gamers with the multiple difficulty levels allowing even the most uncoordinated of my friends and family to join the head banging fun.
It has been with great sadness I have watched the decline of the plastic instrument genre. Not because I don’t recognize the fact suffered a huge amount of over-saturation, because there is no doubting it did. No, I am sad because I know that I probably won’t have another night like that again. Not just because there are no more kids in my future but because the genre has died and I honestly can’t see it ever coming back. The recent Guitar Hero made the mistake in thinking that popular music would work better that rock music in the genre (it doesn’t) and Rock Band played it too safe, offering very little new to returning players. I hope that I am wrong, I hope that one or even both of these titles find a way to bring themselves back to relevance, that they can recapture that magic once again.
But even if they can’t I will always have that night. That night of rum and cokes, dodgy Dominos and of course Dragonforce. That night of pure rock n roll pleasure shared with some of the most important people in my life. A night of perfecting the rock stance, of upsetting the entire street with our oh so terrible singing at 4am, of just out and out having a good time. No other game has ever come close to creating that perfect storm of pure entertainment with friends that I experienced on that very special evening. For that reason, Guitar Hero and Rock Band will forever live in my heart as one of gaming’s premium multiplayer experiences.