Friday, February 11, 2011

Guitar Hero goes to Hell

Earlier this week, video game mega-publisher Activision announced that they would be discontinuing their once-ultra popular “Guitar Hero” franchise, as well as its rhythm game brethren “DJ Hero”. That wasn’t all though, as Activision also announced that the long-running “Tony Hawk” series is on an indefinite hiatus, and the latest installment in the “True Crime” series has been cancelled. What does all this shit mean exactly? Well, so far, it means pretty fucking good news actually.

It wasn’t all that long ago that the “Guitar Hero” franchise was the toast of the video game world. The first game hit the PS2 and was pretty much an instant hit, mostly because at the time, it was something different in the party game genre. Then, something happened. Activision scooped the franchise up from developer Harmonix and subsequent sequels soon followed throughout the years. Harmonix would get the boot from Activision though, and the reins of the “Guitar Hero” franchise would be handed over to developer Neversoft, famous for the years of producing duplicate and boring “Tony Hawk” games. It wouldn’t be much surprise that the “Guitar Hero” games became boring exercises in yearly release tedium, with a rare exception (“Guitar Hero: Metallica” is spectacular, the Aerosmith and Van Halen-flavored editions, not so much), just like EA’s “Madden” game is pretty much the same thing year after year. The only differences between EA’s “Madden” franchise and “Guitar Hero” though, is that gamers were wise enough at this point to find better things to spend their cash on instead of the same rhythm game year after year. Not to mention the fact that the whole rhythm genre became so oversaturated, what with the now discontinued “DJ Hero”, “Band Hero”, “Rock Band”, “Lego Rock Band”, and “Heroin Hero”. Okay, that last one was from an episode of South Park, but you catch my drift.

What this all essentially means is that Activision knows that some of their cash cows are done being milked…for now that is. We’ve been getting shitty “Tony Hawk” games for years now. Remember “Tony Hawk Shred”? That game that came with the skateboard to stand on that barely functioned? Exactly. Truth be told, I haven’t played a good “Tony Hawk” game since “Tony Hawk Pro Skater 2” on the Dreamcast, and I think that was in 2001. “True Crime” always came off to me a relatively lame “Grand Theft Auto” rip-off, and do we really need any more of those?

Honestly, if it’s one franchise I wish Activision would permanently fold, it’s “Call of Duty”. For so long we had practically the same World War II shooter year after year, until “Modern Warfare” actually came along and did some creative changes. Now they have the massive hit that is “Call of Duty: Black Ops”, which isn’t much of a surprise considering that first person shooters are practically mother’s milk to gamers who are two steps away from having A.D.D. It’s not that I hate FPS games, considering I grew up with “Wolfenstein 3-D”, “Doom”, “Duke Nukem 3-D”, and “Quake”; which have always been like the Four Horsemen of FPS games to me. “Call of Duty”, “Halo” and even “Killzone” just all seem almost interchangeable to me that it gets hard for me to tell one from the other.

Maybe I’ve just gotten a bit more bitter as time has gone on. Maybe I’m just not “with it” with all the new video game tech toys like I used to be. Maybe I’m just a prick for loving the fact that Activision just put the kibosh on a handful of their franchises. No matter what though, let’s all take the time to salute “Guitar Hero” for the fun that it was…and just let the mother burn like a Viking funeral.

R.I.P. Guitar Hero, I miss you like Magic Johnson misses having AIDS.

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