Eight Things I Remembered from the 80s: Guitar Hero Encore: Rocks the 80s

1. Ratt Rocks

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Deep down inside, I still hate my cousin Chris for swiping my copy of “Out of the Cellar” during the summer in 1985. It could have been worse, he could have swiped a G.I. Joe or two, but it was still a grievous assault. We still speak, but barely.

So playing “Round and Round” (twice) last night served double duty, both as a fantasy enabler, allowing me to one up my memories of playing air guitar to DeMartini’s light, rough riffs while pouting through Stephen Pearcy’s nonsensically meaningful lyrics, and as resurrection of a forgotten love. I’m downloading the album on iTunes as I write this, and longing for my lunch hour so I can go play the song again. It’s like The Warriors meets glam rock, and I can’t get enough of it.

This is the kind of song that made Guitar Hero the dream machine it is today. Wailing solos, long slides and furious fretwork … If we could do these things in real life, we’d be rock stars. But playing a real guitar is hard. And the graphics aren’t as good. And, let’s face it, not everyone is cut out for life in the fast lane. Sure life is sweeter when you’re on the bus, but that bus never stops, and sometimes, you just want to sit at home on the couch and eat Chinese food, while taking five-minute-at-a-time journeys down the road of rock. And for those times, “Round and Round” will do nicely.

2. The Go-Gos

Yeah, you’ve got the beat. Or you did. Once.

3. Quiet Riot Sounds a Lot Like Kiss

From their arrangements to Kevin DuBrow’s Paul Stanely-esque upper range vocal trills, this band sounded a lot like Kiss, if Kiss had actually known how to play their instruments. And “Metal health” is a great, fun song to play. Made me wish I still had my headbanger’s foam wall pad. Makes me also wish I’d had enough musical taste back then to realize these guys were rip-off artists.

4. Billy Squier Isn’t As Hard to Play As You’d Think

Granted, I was playing through the career mode on medium, but for a late-game song I was expecting a bit more in the way of blistering solo action. Squier’s guitar work sounds awfully intimidating on cassette, but maybe my Dolby noise reduction made a mountain out of a molehill. Or maybe this one just didn’t translate.

Either way, “Lonely Is the Night” is a nice break between songs I’d never heard of, and made me wish Jimmy Page would get over himself and let some Zeppelin in the game. Or at least “Radioactive.” Or some of his work with David Coverdale Really, anything from Page. A game with “guitar” in the tile is worthless without him.

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5. Kip Winger is a Sleazy Mo-Fo

“Daddy says she’s too young, but she’s old enough for me.” Right.

This one brought all those repressed memories of Kip gyrating his way through solos in his sleeveless shirts, while pirouetting and crooning about his underage love interest flooding back in Technicolor. Unfortunately, it’s also a brilliantly paced track and I can’t stop playing it. Maybe with some practice I’ll be able to block out the lyrics (and the images). Or at least pretend he doesn’t mean it.

Ew, Kip. Ew.

6. Anthrax Still Sucks

I’ve never been a fan of this kind of metal. Rough, in-your-face just to be in-your-face … I like my metal with a little more in the way of orchestration. (Metallica and Maiden were more my speed.) But the included song, “Caught in a Mosh,” does make for good Guitar Heroing. It’s frenetic at times, slow at others and loud – real, loud. I was rocking. Hanging on for dear life, but rocking.

How do you keep to the rhythm when the drummer is off doing his own thing and the rest of the band sounds like they’re snorting coke off the amplifiers? Point, not – watch the beat.

7. Sting Used to Have Balls

“Synchronicity II” is no “Synchronicity” (We know you, they know me
Extrasensory. Synchronicity.
) but it is a damn catchy tune. And even though playing it isn’t exactly as painful as a humiliating kick in the crotch, it’s hard enough (and fun enough) to remind you why you like this game. And Sting. In spite of the lute playing.

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8. Dee Snyder and Patty Smyth Both Know Their Place in the Order of Rock

And that place is somewhere near the Chipmunks.

Sure, we rocked all night to “I Wanna Rock” and “The Warrior” (and then hummed the few bars we could remember all the next day), but where are they now? Squeezing every last penny they can out of their residuals and thanking their lucky stars they invested well. And laughing all the way to the bank.

Because if you were a one-hit wonder (or two-hit wonder), even though you won’t be doing any reunion tours, you still got to enjoy a few years living it up with one of the coolest jobs on the planet. (What do you want to do with your life?).

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Being bitter about it is as stupid as thinking Bungie screwed up for not showing Halo 3 at E3. Donating their master tracks for use in Guitar Hero is a sign they not only get it now, but probably did back then, too. Which makes it all the sweeter to rock out once again to their infectious juke box rock.

On the whole, I was pleased as punch with this add-on to my favorite game from last year. It delivers more of what made the original (and the sequel) great, and if you grew up in the era of Vans, parachute pants and glam rock, then it’s a no-brainer. Plus, you get more songs without having to buy another guitar, which is a good thing.

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Russ Pitts is an Associate Producer for The Escapist. His blog can be found at www.falsegravity.com.

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