One of the more unique things that the seventh generation of gaming brought us is what may have been the most enjoyed genre during the height of its popularity – music-based games. From Guitar Hero, Rock Band and the plethora of plastic musical instruments, it seemed as though this was the fad that would never cease to be. Now, these once great party games are relegated to attics and garage sales. A relic of the past that went completely out of tune with the times the question stands as is it even worth it to bring back these music-based titles into our living rooms once more?
When the first music-based games hit store shelves, it was what everybody wanted to play. It seemed that every single gamer was buying up tons of plastic instruments and throwing parties just to live out their dreams of rocking out in a band. I have many fond memories playing at my friends’ houses and college dorm rooms while singing the night away until daybreak. Both Rock Band and Guitar Hero had so much influence at the time and everybody who was anybody wanted to get in on this fad, but soon enough like many other fads, they usually come and go as quickly as they went.
Sure, these games lasted for a healthy lifetime during their stay and had a large player base and amount of purchases throughout each installment, but that’s where the problems truly began. The fact that companies milked the cow far too long by having yearly releases was the inevitable downfall for all the music-based games. Both Rock Band and Guitar Hero were the major players in all of this and had to compete with one another with each new installment with them splitting hairs as to which of these releases were better than the last, caused many of us to get burnt out rather quickly.
Not only that but the fact that new plastic instruments were introduced with each of these installments and some of them only working with specific titles made it difficult to keep up. You’d like to play the newest hits from your favorite band? You’ll need to dish out over $100 dollars in order to do so. And what came to be with your old instruments? They became worthless and now sit collecting dust or tossed to the curb after each year when the new games came out. It really became a difficult pill to swallow for many owners and both popularity and sales regression truly started to show.
Companies tried to spin-off titles or new instruments, forcing these games to try to feel new but wasn’t enough for buyers after the appeal wore off. This saw some of these series lie dormant for a while, with some franchises never returning, but the two major players still had enough staying power to try to dry up the market before they had to take the dog out back. We started seeing band specific games which catered to a selected audience but these were only appealing to a specific few fans of acts like Green Day, Aerosmith and music games in general.
Other attempts to try to recapture the glory days of the music-based games was by having downloadable content which had players obtain a select few songs for free and or had them purchasing their favorite albums for them to play. This was the high point of trying to fix the issue at hand, but it was far too late and not nearly enough to try to get people awaiting the next titles and for the first time in many years, the names such as Guitar Hero and Rock Band were off of store shelves.
At the dawn of the 8th generation people were wondering if a return of these mega-music franchises was in the cards, and sure enough, they did. We have been graced once again with both Guitar Hero and Rock Band on some of this generation of consoles and while the return was met with a warm welcome, it felt closer to people trying to recreate the nostalgia of the glory days of these titles rather than becoming a staple of a generation, making the return of these games come back into question.
These games were a product of their time, much like how DVD’s were a must-have for consoles or motion controls thought to be the way of the future for gaming. The plastic instruments are now a mere nuisance in the living room and are often tossed away for more approachable and less costly experience. Games such as Rocksmith, for example, teaches the basics of learning to play the actual instrument and with mobile applications that allow you to sing, learn cords and everything that needs to know about music in a flick of a button, makes it difficult for the giants of the genre to ever regain their former glory.
The stardom that both Rock Band and Guitar Hero was undisputed as these games offered an endless amount of enjoyment with friends and family alike. There are fond memories to be had with these games, but are a product of a different time and couldn’t keep up with an ever-changing market that demands a new experience each and every day. It is easy to look back and remember what these games meant to us, but the music-based genre, as it was years past, will most likely never return to fame and it may be best if it didn’t try to pull the comeback.