Now there are two "Guitar Hero" plastic axes hanging on my wall back in my apartment, and I can play the "Freebird" solo at a sub-Enya tempo. Obviously, games have improved, but I haven't. So, naturally, I'm a little scared to pick up the "Rock Band" game from Harmonix (now owned by MTV, the company gave up the "Gutiar Hero" brand to Neversoft last summer), which features an electronic drum kit, a fake-Stratocaster and a microphone that doubles as a tambourine.
From one look at the Die-Hard-meets-A-Hard-Day's-Night trailer, one can see how far we've come .... or gone over the edge. Produced by Passion Pictures, it's a high-def ride atop a couple death machines with only "Highway Star" by Deep Purple to hold the action together. Of course it's overblown, and of course it's amazing.
Just like the trailer, the hardware this time around is even closer to real-life; the guitar has 10 buttons on it and the drum kit has four heads and a kick drum pedal. For those who can master these instruments, MTV has arranged a cross-country promotional tour to try out virtual-real rock groups for a battle of the bands on TRL. The winning "band" will ... get this ... actually open up for some mystery band -- ostensibly one that plays real instruments -- on an actual concert stage.
We're a long way from "Quest for Fame," but apparently, for better or worse, rock-sims have stuck to their roots. According to Billboard, "Guitar Hero IV" will feature nothing but Aerosmith tracks. Twenty years from now, we may see a geriatric Aerosmith using this game to eke out one last reunion tour to pay for their mega-sized masoleums ... And I'll still be struggling through the "Dude (Looks Like a Lady)" solo at an "I Don't Wanna Miss a Thing" tempo.