or Paradise (Lost) by the XBox Lights
I recently brought a bad, bad thing into my home. Something that could destroy my marriage.
Another woman? Heroin? A Republican voter registration card?
No, something far more adulterous, additive, and abominable...Guitar Hero II for the XBox 360.
Pictured: Guitar Hero II software and Explorer guitar controller.
Not pictured: Man not having sex.
The game has been out for the PlayStation 2 for a while, and last Thanksgiving, I played it on my brother’s PS2. I could name that addiction in four notes.
“I must have this,” I said.
“Oh, sweet Jesus,” said The Lovely Becky, who saw the writing on the studio walls.
Finally this week, this plastic manna fell down the Stairway to Heaven and onto the XBox 360 .
So what is Guitar Hero II? It depends on who you ask. The publisher, Red Octane, calls it a “game” that “creates the sensation of being a rock star, as you rock out to 30 of the greatest rock anthems of all time.” My wife calls it “the nerdiest fucking thing I’ve ever done,” which is impressive considering how long she has known me.
I call it a sign that God wants us to be happy, much like beer, burritos, and blowjobs.
The game is pretty simple in its execution. You play along with the above mentioned rock tracks. On screen, a giant fret board scrolls notes toward you as the song plays. You simply press the colored fret buttons in sequence and tap the strum button in rhythm with the song. To get bonus points, you can add “star power” by tilting your guitar upward at the right moment (an action which prompted this exchange between me and my lovely wife).
It sounds stupid. It looks stupid. It should be stupid. I am, after all, 36 years old, and a grown man banging away on a Fisher Price toy in time with Warrant’s “Cherry Pie” should unleash power chords of shame and ridicule. You could have the looks of Brad Pitt, the coolness of George Clooney, and the whammy bar of Milton Berle, and there’s no way in hell any woman would tune you in, let alone pluck your G string, when you’re wearing a toy guitar controller around your neck.
But God help me, it’s the most fun I’ve ever had playing a videogame in my long, unillustrious history of videogame playing. Even more shocking, it doesn’t involve shooting, stabbing, sawing, gnawing, disintegrating, atomizing, dungeons, dragons, Italians, or monkeys. Just good, clean fun that goes to 11.
The irony is that, while Guitar Hero poses a grave threat to my matrimonial bliss, my marriage also saves me from Guitar Hero. The guitar's anti-sex matter coupled with TLB's snark form twin guardrails that prevent me from swerving off Nerd Boulevard and into the Gorge of Eternal Geekiness. Because without my marriage, I could turn out like these guys:
Not the cape, of course. Well, probably not the cape. Okay, maybe if there was a Yes song....