70: Guitar Hero
Title text: And then do it again in a moment now that they're out of Star Power.
Guitar Hero is a series of video games (originally a single game) currently distributed by Activision. In the game, players simulate playing the guitar on famous guitar songs using a plastic guitar-shaped controller with five color-coded buttons on the neck representing guitar frets and a rocker bar on the body simulating a strumming motion. The game now includes other instruments such as drums and vocals, although not at the time this comic was published.
While playing the game, an animated band is shown on the upper half of the screen and an extended guitar neck is shown vertically on the bottom half of the screen screen the frets horizontal, often called the "note highway". As the song progresses, colored markers or "gems" indicating notes travel down the screen in time with the music; the note colors and positions match the five fret keys on the guitar controller. Once the notes reach the bottom, the player must play the indicated notes by holding down the correct fret buttons and hitting the strumming bar in order to score points.
In this comic, Randall suggests that, were he in a real rock band, he would perform a mellow song but intentionally put a complicated guitar solo in, not for musical value, but solely to antagonise Guitar Hero players with an impossible solo. As the comic suggests, a random flailing would likely make for a very difficult passage to play in Guitar Hero. This is highlighted by the previous statement that the song would otherwise be mellow, lulling the player into a false sense that the song was easy to play and relaxing.
In order to understand the title text of the comic, you must understand two game mechanics for Guitar Hero. The first is the Rock Meter. Success or failure in hitting notes will cause the on-screen Rock Meter to change, showing how well the player is playing (denoted by red, yellow, and green sections). Should the Rock Meter drop below the red section, the song will automatically end, with the player booed off the stage by the audience.
The second element you must understand is Star Power. Selected special segments of the song will have glowing notes outlined by stars: successfully hitting all notes in this series will fill the Star Power Meter. The Star Power Meter can also be filled by using the whammy bar during sustained notes within these segments. Once the Star Power Meter is at least half full, the player can activate Star Power by pressing the select button or momentarily lifting the guitar into a vertical position. When Star Power is activated, the scoring multiplier is doubled until Star Power is depleted. The Rock Meter also increases more dramatically when Star Power is activated, making it easier for the player to make the Rock Meter stay at a high level.
Thus, Star Power can be used strategically to play difficult sections of a song that otherwise might cause the player to fail. The title text for the comic is suggesting that the player would have used up their Star Power in a strategic bid to not fail the sudden and surprising flailing solo. Now powerless, a second unexpected flailing solo would crush the player.
- [On a stage, a guy with a beard is in the background, holding a microphone. In the center is a guy with an electric guitar. The catwalk has bumps to resemble the tracks of Guitar Hero.]
- When I'm in a rock band, I'm gonna do a cool, mellow song. Then in the middle I'll stop, announce "this part is just to be an asshole to people playing Guitar Hero," and then flail wildly on the strings for 30 seconds.