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 guitar on famous guitar songs using a plastic guitar-shaped controller which has 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", and 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 those of the five fret keys on the guitar controller. Once the note(s) reach the bottom, the player must play the indicated note(s) by holding down the correct fret button(s) 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.
Another element in Guitar Hero is "Star Power": Certain specific sections of a song are marked by glowing gems outlined by stars. Successfully playing the entire section accurately adds to a player's Star Power meter. When the meter is at least half full, the player can activate Star Power at an opportune moment to double their points until the Star Power is expended a period of time. This is most advantageous during passages with the most notes (commonly during solos). It can be frustrating to get to a solo and not have Star Power available to double your points. Thus, to do a second solo right after the first one would mean that players who wisely use their Star Power during the first solo would never have Star Power available for the second solo, frustrating them.
Further, the player has a "Rock Meter" which drops to red if the player misses too many notes without playing correct notes to increase the meter, and ultimately results in the player failing the song (they are cut off mid-song). While Star Power is in use, the Rock Meter fills quicker on successful notes. Having no Star Power available on a tough solo would make it more difficult to avoid failure, causing the player increased frustration.
- [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.