Guitar-ing and Racing

My, my, it’s been a while. Let’s do a brief gaming update.

  • Have not been playing Guild Wars like I said I would. Am planning on playing for at least a few hours this coming weekend.
  • Have, however, been playing Mario Kart DS and Guitar Hero III.
  • Sadly, have not gotten a Rock Band fix since last year.
  • Got a free-to-play copy of Lumines for the PC. Have not played it as much as I would like. Apart from being busy, am fearful of addiction.

Let’s drill down.

Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock

For me it’s not as good as Guitar Hero I and Guitar Hero II for a few reasons: 1) boss battles, 2) story mode, and 3) changes in a few of the characters. Overall, I do like the game. I bought the game mainly for the music, and I got the one with the guitar so that I could play with someone else. Most of the music is great. There are loads of songs that I’m familiar with and that I like, as well as songs that I’ve never heard before which appealed to me. I have no complaints about the music and actual game play, so I’ll go into detail about what I disliked.

Boss battles are pointless, unskippable interruptions in gameplay. I just wanted to continue unlocking songs. The first boss battle, with some guy named Tom Morello, was bloody difficult for me to get past. I got really frustrated because I didn’t get the hang of how to defeat him. I ended up not playing the game for a few weeks because I was so fed up. When I did return to it, however, I defeated Tom Morello on the second try. Fucking Tom Morello…

As for the storyline, which is shown to you in a series of cut scenes when you unlock a new group of songs, they also interrupt the flow of song unlocking and rocking out. However you can at least skip them. The cut scenes are a minor interruption, but I found them just as pointless as the boss battles. I didn’t care about what was going on. I just wanted to carry on playing.

Most of the glaring irritations are the character department. The first is the removal of Pandora, one of my favourite characters from the first two Guitar Hero games. I didn’t see the point in taking her out of the third game. She was great, so why mess with greatness? The designers also decided that it would be a fantastic idea to depict Casey Lynch and especially Judy Nails in a sexually objectified manner. The also added a new female character, Midori, who quite frankly is a guitar-playing, sexually-objectified racial stereotype. Another character I disliked intensely is the generic female lead singer (when you play a song in which there is a female lead). Her mannerisms and attire are so repulsive because it’s clear the decision to do this was to appeal to a male gamer. Content like this simply alienates me. I also really disliked the fact that, at certain times in the game, these female go-go dancers appear and dance suggestively to your guitar playing. The first two Guitar Hero games enjoyed much success, and it wasn’t because the Harmonix decided to depict the female characters in a glaringly sexist way; it was because the game design and music were great. Neversoft should have understood that if they make a good game, people will buy it even if the female character designs don’t pander to the male gaze.

Mario Kart DS

I got this game because I like Mario Kart. In fact, Mario Kart is the only Mario-related series that I really like. I have avoided the Mario platformers since Super Mario World on the SNES. I also got this game because I wanted to use the non-default karts when we have DS gaming lunches at the office. I have not played a Mario Kart game avidly since Super Mario Kart for the SNES. This means that I really, really suck compared to my significant other, who has played nearly every Mario Kart game to death. Despite my poor racing skills, I do enjoy the game. I am still trying to figure out which character most closely matches my driving style, though.

4 comments

  1. Jason O · January 31, 2008

    Therein lies the conundrum, I love the song list on Guitar Hero III. I don’t own the game yet, it’s the only one I don’t have. I have gotten to play it at relative’s houses or occassionally when I’m out at “lunch”

    I was shocked when I saw what they did to Judy Nails and Casey Lynch. Prior to III, their sexuality was played for laughs. It was a nice little nudge in the ribs, pointing fingers at rock stereotypes and laughing. I dug it.

    This is what happens as a franchise gets more popular and starts to change hands. Looking at the games Neversoft has developed in the past, this is par for the course for them. What really stinks is that these are games I’ve played with the whole family, one of the few titles I could do so. My wife and both boys have played all the games. I’m not so sure I want the boys to see III and I know the wife will be turned off by it.

  2. Cuppycake · January 31, 2008

    Some guy named Tom Morello?!

    /sigh

    *forehead on desk*

    (He’s from Rage Against the Machine)

  3. Brinstar · January 31, 2008

    I am aware of that. RATM’s music has never appealed to me. :)

  4. That Fuzzy Bastard · January 31, 2008

    The stripper aesthetic in GH3 is the kind of thing that makes me weep for the industry. I remember reading an interview, shortly after it was announced that Neversoft was taking over the franchise, where the developers were giggling about mo-capping strippers. And I thought: “You dumb bastards—you’ve inherited one of the few gaming franchises ever where men and women consistently play in equal numbers, and you’ve set out to blow it.” I suspect a lot of women are going to move to Rock Band because of it, and good for them—the sexification of Guitar Hero is an insult.

    I think the transition in developers also shows in the note charts. The notes in GH3 seem less aligned with the music to me—both their beat and what they force your hand to do. GH3 has a lot of holding the same frets and hitting the strum really really really fast, and it ends up feeling more like a shump than a guitar. It really shows, I think, that Harmonix are a music company that got into gaming, while Neversoft is a gaming company that’s gotten (sort of) into music.

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