Every console I have ever owned was purchased to play only one of the titles available on each system. Sure, I've gone on to buy more games for the platforms later, but that first cherry high has been because of a singular entity. For the Sega Genesis and SNES, it was Shadowrun. On the N64, it was GoldenEye. Xbox? Knights of the Old Republic. For the Xbox 360, it won't be Shadowrun again. But for the Playstation 2, the game was Guitar Hero. And it almost cost me my soul.
"It all started with an open box and a dream."
The day I spent $250 to play one game started like any other in our office. I had been reading through some industry news, and at least two cups of coffee were running through my veins. It was a good day. Until the box arrived. Stamped with Amazon.com on the side, I first believed the box contained nothing more than books for the IT Department. What we didn't know was the code monkeys knew how to rock.
Out of the large Amazon box sprang forth a videogame box about the size of a keyboard. Inside, though, was what shocked me into a $250 purchase. For everyone who has ever strummed a badminton or tennis racket while rocking out in their childhood bedroom, Guitar Hero's guitar-shaped controller was like laying your eyes on the Holy Grail.
The owner booted up the game on the office PS2 and began to thrash. Well, sort of. Unfortunately for him, buying the game did not buy him any sort of rhythm whatsoever, and I quickly stepped in. I may as well have tied off and injected myself with Black Tar. Thirty minutes after first picking up the plastic controller, I became the proud owner of my own copy. The added cost of a Playstation 2, high definition cables and a memory card brought me up to $250.
The events of the next few months were something that could have been chronicled on an episode of VH1's Behind the Music. "When we come back, after a meteoric rise to the top, we'll tell the story of how JR Sutich and his band, Juggernaut, came crashing down to earth, self-destructing in a fireball of alcohol, pain and broken dreams."
I played Guitar Hero for hours on end, every day, for weeks. I became the best player out of the group I spent most of my time around. I put on exhibitions, playing "Unsung" by Helmet on Hard with my back turned to the TV. Don't you know that I was a shooting star? Unbeknownst to me, however, my arch-rival, my nemesis, my ex-wife had gotten her own copy of the game. And after selling her soul to the devil at the crossroads, did the impossible: She beat "Bark at the Moon" by Ozzy Osbourne on Expert. In front of me. Using my plastic axe. Just like castles made of sand, my sense of superiority collapsed.