"What do you want to do with your life?!"
"I wanna rock."
Well, shit. I’ve gone and found another game that not only do I totally love, but gives me something else in common with one of my kids. Productivity is down 75,000 percent as a result.
Guitar Hero is the most fun I’ve ever had with a pretend guitar, and let me tell you something: I’ve spent a lot of time playing with pretend guitars, long before Journey make air instruments popular in the video for Separate Ways.
I saw it at IGN Live last year, and thought it was really fun, but I didn’t know if I really wanted to invest 65 or 70 bucks into the game, but when Ryan started talking about how he wanted it, too, we decided to split the cost so neither one of us would feel shafted if it wasn’t as fun as we hoped. Two weeks or so ago, we picked it up, and we haven’t stopped rocking.
The game is outrageously fun: you have a mini guitar controller (which you can outfit with stickers, including a totally rockin’ skull and some ass-kicking lightning bolts) that plugs into your PS2. There are five color-coded buttons on the fretboard, and a flippy lever thing on the body. You play along with the songs, DDR-style, by pushing the correct button (or combination of buttons) as the stream down the screen at you, while you strum along on the flippy lever thing. You get points and bonuses, including the totally rockin’ star power bonus, the more accurately you play.
You choose a character, and begin rocking out in some guy’s basement with songs like "I Wanna Be Sedated" and "I Love Rock & Roll," and work your way up to songs like "Bark at the Moon" in a stadium. Along the way, you can buy new guitars, new designs for your guitars, and unlockable characters. The only complaint I have is that you can’t buy hookers, blow, or tools to bury them when you’re done with them. But thankfully, I’ll always have GTA to fill that need.
There are different levels, and Ryan is much better than I am, completing all of Medium and the first level of Hard, while I’m still struggling to get past the second level of Medium. I’ve noticed that on the songs I know how to play in real life, I screw up the most, because my fingers get all excited and think I’m playing my bass for real (especially on Ziggy Stardust and Iron Man.)
Last night, Ryan and I were playing together (taking turns; we haven’t picked up a second guitar for what I understand is the greatest two-player game in the world), and we decided to take the game to a whole new level: in addition to the bonus points the game delivered, we gave each other style points based on how hard we rocked out (Chuck Berry-esque leg kicking and throwing the goat during extended wahh-wahh notes were both good moves.) We were both rocking pretty furiously and I took a huge lead, until Ryan went into his room, and came out a few minutes later with a necktie around his forehead, sunglasses, and a Hawaiian shirt open to the waist. He threw the goat and said, "I am ready to rock."
I immediately had to award him umptybillion points for that move, and Ryan took a nearly insurmountable lead. I tried to come back with some exrta rock of my own, but the best I could muster was, "Hey, get these bitches off the stage, man," when Ferris and Riley decided that our jumping and wailing was an invitation for them to come into the living room and play with us. I took away umptybillion points of my own, giving Ryan a two umptybillion point lead, which is just short of one brazillion.
Right around the time we were about to finish rocking, Nolan wanted to give it a try, so we set him up, and told him that he could finish the gig (did I mention how much more fun this game is when you play with people who aren’t afraid to be total dorks about it, and talk in a bad english accent and yell at the "audience" who are deep inside the TV?)
Nolan has only played once or twice, but he decided that he could jump right in on Medium (bad idea) and he picked Thunder Kiss 65 (worse idea – that’s a tough song to effectively learn on.)
He did pretty well, all things considered, until about halfway through the song. He missed some notes, and started to get frustrated. Ryan did the coolest thing, though: he said, very calmly, "Hey, Nolan, you’ve totally got this. Just relax and you’ll do great."
Nolan relaxed, and finished the song for a 3 star rating and 80% notes hit. That’s not bad for your third time playing, especially following in the shadow of your big brother who kicks ass at the game, and your stepfather who took the rocking out a little too seriously.
Last week, I said that I wanted to raise kids who are people I am "proud of, and I’d like to spend time with, even if we weren’t family:
honest, honorable, generous, compassionate, and responsible."
It would have been very easy for Ryan to be a dick to Nolan about it, or to tease him, or not say anything encouraging at all, but he chose to be kind and compassionate. He saw his younger brother struggling, and chose to help him through it.
Of all the rocking we did last night, that rocked the most.