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) 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 the player plays 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 with horizontal frets, often called the "note highway." As the song progresses, coloured markers or "gems" indicating notes travel down the screen in time with the music; the note colours 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. The image in the comic is similar to what is shown when playing Guitar Hero.
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 antagonize 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. Even worse for Guitar Hero players, if there was anyone who is good enough to play the solo, they would still have no fun playing the song if it is otherwise very mellow.
Probably, the "impossible solo" proposed here would turn useless, as there are some songs where the artist actually flails the guitar, and the developers translated that in gameplay as a bonus where the players can freely spam their controller/guitar for extra points.
The title text refers to a mechanic in Guitar Hero called "Star Power." Normally, when a player misses too many notes in a short time, their character is booed off the stage, and they have to restart. Using Star Power temporarily boosts the score from each note, so the player can clear a difficult section of the song even if they haven't hit most of the notes. So, when faced with Randall's impossible guitar solo, most players will immediately use Star Power to survive it. However, it takes time to build up Star Power, and it all gets expended at once, so if the song has a second stretch of wild flailing, the player won't be able to escape and will fail. (Also note that in Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock and many other titles of the series, a full meter of Star Power lasts for eight measures, so as long as the song is mildly fast (80BPM would more than suffice for a 4/4 or 12/8 time signature), 30 seconds would be enough already.)
- [On a stage, Megan is in the background as a singer holding a microphone. In the center is Hairy with an electric guitar. The catwalk has bumps to resemble the tracks of Guitar Hero.]
- [Caption above the stage]:
- 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.
- Randall's idea seems to have come true coincidentally a year after this comic was made in the Guitar Hero sequel Guitar Hero Encore: Rocks the 80s. The song Because it's Midnite is considered very easy except for a 13-second guitar solo containing over 170 notes.