Guitar Hero

Guitar Hero

Guitar Hero allows players to step into the shoes of a rock god and play some of the most famous guitar songs of all time.


Guitar Hero was the first major success from Harmonix Music Systems, who had developed several other, less successful, rhythm based games before hitting their stride. The game involves using a guitar controller to play along with popular songs. The first Guitar Hero game was a huge success, and the series has spawned numerous sequels, expansion packs, and a spiritual successor, Rock Band.


The gameplay of Guitar Hero is based around a rhythm mechanic. The player uses a guitar shaped controller with five buttons to hit color-coded notes, and a "strum bar" to simulate the picking of strings in time with the music. A "Rock Meter" on the side of the screen indicates the crowd's satisfaction with the performance. Hitting notes raises the meter, missing notes lowers it. Some notes have long tails behind them, indicating that the fret button must be held for the duration of the note. A "Whammy Bar" can be used to gain additional points from these points, as well as producing a tremolo effect. Certain phrases notes are colored white-blue, and hitting these notes gains "Star Power". Star Power is represented by a meter on the side of the screen. When this meter is half-full or more, star power can be deployed by tilting the guitar controller. Doing this doubles the note multiplier, and increases the amount the rock meter is raised with each note hit. This implies that star power can be used for two purposes; surviving difficult song sections, and gaining points on easier ones. It should be noted that most of the songs featured throughout the game are covers by Wavegroup.


The idea for Guitar Hero came from the GuitarFreaks arcade game from Konami. The founders of RedOctane, a company that had been making music game peripherals for some time, wished to bring the same sort of experience to North America. They were successful in raising $1.75 million for the project but were turned down several times. Eventually Harmonix was asked to help with the project and the company agreed to assist in developing the game.

Once development started, the team wasn't sure about the tracklist that was going to be in the game. They mainly wanted to focus on hard rock songs but there were limitations in licenses that they could require for the tracks. The note patterns for songs were created by a Harmonix team and they usually spent a day on each track. Software algorithms that assessed the difficulty of the songs and the quality of the note patterns created by the team were used as well.


Canceled Xbox Version

In an interview in January 2010, Mad Katz CEO revealed to Kotaku that an Xbox version of the first Guitar Hero was planned, and that they were in charge of it. However Konami threatened to sue and Mad Katz broke off the deal.

Track Listing

Tier 1: Opening Licks

  • "I Love Rock and Roll" by Joan Jett and the Blackhearts
  • "I Wanna Be Sedated" by The Ramones
  • "Thunder Kiss '65" by White Zombie
  • "Smoke on the Water" by Deep Purple
  • "Infected" by Bad Religion

Tier 2: Axe-Grinders

  • "Iron Man" by Black Sabbath
  • "More Than a Feeling" by Boston
  • "You Got Another Thing Comin'" by Judas Priest
  • "Take Me Out" by Franz Ferdinand
  • "Sharp Dressed Man" by ZZ Top

Tier 3: Thrash and Burn

  • "Killer Queen" by Queen
  • "Hey You" by The Exies
  • "Stellar" by Incubus
  • "Heart Full of Black" by Burning Brides
  • "Symphony of Destruction" by Megadeth

Tier 4: Return of the Shred

  • "Ziggy Stardust" by David Bowie
  • "Fat Lip" by Sum 41
  • "Cochise" by Audioslave
  • "Take It Off" by The Donnas
  • "Unsung" by Helmet

Tier 5: Fret-Burners

  • "Spanish Castle Magic" by Jimi Hendrix*
  • "Higher Ground" by Red Hot Chili Peppers
  • "No One Knows" by Queens of the Stone Age
  • "Ace of Spades" by Motörhead
  • "Crossroads" by Cream

Tier 6: Face Melters

  • "Godzilla" by Blue Öyster Cult
  • "Texas Flood" by Stevie Ray Vaughan
  • "Frankenstein" by The Edgar Winter Group
  • "Cowboys from Hell" by Pantera
  • "Bark at the Moon" by Ozzy Osbourne

Bonus Songs

  • "All of This" by Shaimus
  • "Behind the Mask" by Anarchy Club
  • "The Breaking Wheel" by Artillery
  • "Callout" by The Acro-Brats
  • "Caveman Rejoice" by The Bags
  • "Cheat on the Church" by Graveyard BBQ
  • "Decontrol" by Drist
  • "Eureka, I've Found Love" by The Upper Crust
  • "Even Rats" by The Slip
  • "Farewell Myth" by Made in Mexico
  • "Fire it Up" by Black Label Society
  • "Fly on the Wall" by Din
  • "Get Ready 2 Rokk" by Freezepop
  • "Guitar Hero" by Monkey Steals the Peach
  • "Hey" by Honest Bob and the Factory-to-Dealer Incentives
  • "Sail Your Ship By" by Count Zero
  • "Story of My Love" by The Model Sons

Hidden Songs:

  • "Trippolette" by Andrew Busch
  • "Graveyard Shift" by Unknown