Yeah, yeah, Washington DC, live-action video, blah blah, shitting all over the history of a proud nation, etc. Let’s move on. I’ve had one of my ideas for a game that will never ever be made in a million years and I need somewhere to write it down, so this’ll do.

Fact is, there need to be more things you can do with Guitar Hero controllers. They take up a lot of space in my living room that I could have filled with, say, liquor cabinets or bean bag chairs. I don’t really play it single player anymore because I’m just too good, and I can’t throw any more parties because I lost all my friends by playing Guitar Hero too well, so I’ve got all this plastic just taking up space. Obviously, the best solution to this problem is to come up with more games that use the controllers.

So here’s the idea. Guitar Hero: Rock Opera.

Basically, it combines Guitar Hero with a music-themed RPG that’s a little bit like Brütal Legend’s setup. You’re a lone adventurer in a dystopian fantasy world, and you must use the power of a mystical guitar, placed in your possession by a twist of fate, to inspire the people, opposed at every turn by a sinister army of emotion-suppressing killjoys. So quite a lot like Brütal Legend’s setup, then.

You drive around the open world in some dystopian rock opera fantasy equivalent of a van. I figure enough genres have already been melded together into sandbox titles that mixing in rhythm games won’t be too much of a sting. You control the van entirely with the guitar controller; accelerate/reverse by pressing up/down on the strum bar, steer with the left and rightmost fret buttons, handbrake with any of the other fret buttons. Deploy the tilt sensor to get a speed boost, maybe.

The background music is constantly playing a medley of the songs on the soundtrack with the guitar portion turned down, if not muted altogether. At any point you can stop, jump on top of the van and start playing the background music in classic Guitar Hero style. The countryside is infested with the downtrodden peasants, and when you play, they will stop to listen. The better you play, the more special effects, stage lights and speakers rise up from beneath the earth, widening your circle of influence and inspiring more peasants. Each inspired peasant grants you 1 pair of damp knickers, which are traded in for experience points.

So throughout the game world, you’ll find plenty of quests and minigames, as befits the wide-open sandbox genre. There’s special concerts where you play specific songs. Duels where you out-play some other, lamer guitar-wielding superhero. But that’ll only take us so far, which means there’ll need to be combat.


There are two kinds of combat. The first is melee. Stick with me, this might be hard to follow in text. Your guitarist stands still on the field of battle and a circular area around them is divided into five areas, one for each fret. When an enemy enters an area, strumming the appropriate color will damage them and knock them back. If things get on top of you, you can also strum the bar with no frets pressed to leap out of the fray, fly stylishly through the air and land in another spot – calculated randomly according to relative safety, you wouldn’t be able to guide where you landed yourself – knocking back all the enemies around you when you land and briefly adopting an appropriately awesome guitar pose before resuming the attack. There’d also be special spots in the attack circle, and if you attack an enemy while they stand on that spot, you get the opportunity to play the background music for a few seconds to do a special attack to all the enemies, the quality of your performance raising or lowering its effectiveness.

By now you’re obviously thinking this is the greatest idea for a Guitar Hero game ever and I am a visionary genius deserving of investment and/or worship, but it doesn’t stop there. The other kind of combat is boss fights with huge thematic monsters. In this case, you strum the left and rightmost frets to hop back and forth between five or six points on a circle surrounding the boss, and you attack by playing the background music with the unused buttons. This way, you can swap instantly between attacking the boss and dodging their attacks. Once they’re hurt enough, the song segues towards its climax and you just have to play the rest of it in classic Guitar Hero style, finishing off the poor bastard in the most staggeringly awesome way possible.

This and all other gameplay mechanics lend themselves easily to the existing Guitar Hero method of setting difficulty: Easy Mode only uses the first three fret buttons, Medium uses four, Hard and Expert use all five. Admittedly, the dodge controls means that fighting Easy Mode bosses will involve playing a song with only one button, but hey, they call it Easy Mode for a reason. Man up if you want a challenge, retard.

I don’t mean to sound immodest, but this idea is a product of perfect genius. It combines the awesome feeling of playing Guitar Hero with the equally awesome feeling of smashing hellbastards to death. If anyone at Harmonix or Activision reads this and doesn’t try to contact me so hard that their mouse hand catches fire, then they are betraying themselves and the people. This is exactly the kind of thing Rock Band / Guitar Hero needs to revitalize itself and deal a crippling blow to the competition at Guitar Hero / Rock Band. But wait! You could even bring the rest of the band in and play co-op. One guitarist could drive the van while the other stands on the roof playing the music, inspiring oppressed peasants on the move and re-enacting the Rock Band intro cinematic. The player with the mic could sing to buff the guitarists’ combat power. And the drummer could sit in the back of the van and drool.

Yahtzee is a British-born, currently Australian-based writer and gamer with a sweet hat and a chip on his shoulder. When he isn’t talking very fast into a headset mic he also designs freeware adventure games and writes the back page column for PC Gamer, who are too important to mention us. His personal site is

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