Guitar Hero® is a multi-platform video game that was first introduced in 2005. It was somewhat unpopular when it first came on the market because of its high cost. The controller was the first to resemble a musical instrument. The popularity of the game has expanded since that initial release, and has been followed by many sequels including Guitar Hero® II and III, 80's, Aerosmith, and World Tour. One study showed that 95% of the people who entered Best Buy purchased Guitar Hero® III on the day it came out.
RedOctane was the original producer of the game, while Harmonix was the creator. In 2006, Harmonix was sold to MTV and RedOctane was purchased by Activision. The Guitar Hero® brand was left with Activision. Harmonix was later responsible for the competition Rock Band®. By the time Guitar Hero® III was released, the Activision label RedOctane was producing the series, while Neversoft was responsible for development.
A development since the first Guitar Hero® is the ability to download new tracks. Systems like X-Box 360™ Nintendo Wii™ and Playstation® III that have internet access are able to connect to services online that offer tracks not included on the game disk. Each game has numerous songs that can be downloaded, for a total of several hundred extras between the series.
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The guitar shaped controller has five buttons on the neck of the guitar: green, red, yellow, blue, and orange. There are buttons on the body that replace the "start" and "select" buttons on a standard controller. In the area where a real guitarist would strum the strings, there is a "strum bar." This strum bar is a long clicking button that is pressed up or down similarly to a light switch. Like a real guitar, players can strum both up and down as necessary.
To play Guitar Hero®, users choose a song and a play mode. They can start a career or play individual songs. There are numerous characters and guitars to choose from, and more can be unlocked as the game is played. Generally, there are four difficulty levels to choose from as well: easy, medium, hard and expert. Players can play individually or work in two-player mode competitively or cooperatively.
Once a song is started, a scrolling pattern comes on the screen running towards the players. On that scrolling pattern are colored dots corresponding to the colors of the neck buttons. As the colored dot comes to a bar at the front of the screen, the player must press the right color button and hit the guitar's strum bar at the same time.
The Guitar Hero® brand showed no signs of slowing down by early 2009. In 2008, the full-band Guitar Hero® World Tour sold 3.4 million copies in the United States alone, outselling its closest competitor, Rock Band® 2, nearly two to one. A Metallica version was set to be released in Spring of 2009.