My Fingers Really Hurt

My sophomore year of university, I shared a suite with two guys. I think there were four (five?) game consoles. We had two mini-fridges: one for mixers, one for beer. We converted a desk into a bar. I learnt the art of being an alpha-male arsehole. We made the kind of jokes that would have gotten us killed in public.


For some reason, Guitar Hero was the proving ground that decided which of my two male roommates was the most virile. Not something sensible like, I don’t know, Halo or Warcraft or something, no: Guitar Hero. (One roommate was in a top-rated WoW guild, the other managed a professional team of Warcraft III players. Why not an MMO or an RTS? Who knows.)



The apex of manliness was apparently playing “Texas Flood” on expert with baked goods tied to the hands and getting five stars. We never actually attached anyone’s fingers to bread loaves, and I don’t remember who reached the top of Man Mountain first, but I can tell you that I could only play Guitar Hero when my roommates were both otherwise occupied.

Still, I got in some practice. I think I managed to pass “Cochise” on medium…? Anyway, considering the time I had to work with, I was damn good. (Not so with SmashBros. I suck at SmashBros. FALCOOOOOOON…PAUNCH!)

LofL (the love of my life) found a copy of Guitar Hero, II, and Legends of Rock for three bucks each at Game Stop a few days ago. “Okay, I dig it,” I thought. “I might be able to play this still.” We had a guitar already, five bucks at a garage sale.

That damned guitar. I played like a GOD for oh, five hours. And then I went to sleep, because I hadn’t slept in umpteen hours (writers, amirite?).

Pictured: The Common Insomnia Gremlin, jitterus caffeinatrex

Pictured: The Common Insomnia Gremlin, jitterus caffeinatrex

Sure, the strum bar didn’t work when you pushed up, but it was okay. Most of the menus were cyclical. I played by thumbing the strum bar down most of the time, anyway.

When I woke up, the downstroke didn’t work at all. It was like a magic suck-button. It either wouldn’t register or would register twice at once. (It took us a little while to figure it out because the only game in which LofL can be truthfully classified as “newb” is Guitar Hero — and when he told me he was playing worse than usual I was like, “So what else is new?” No I wasn’t. I’m not that mean.)

I’ll soothe your burning curiosity immediately: playing only on the upstroke is really goddamn annoying. It’s too slow. My fingers slip.

What could I do? I had four stars on “Sharp Dressed Man” on EASY. I played and played and played. I migrated back and forth over the sofa. I made LofL (my personal technology guru, bless his heart) open both of our guitars to see if he could scavenge parts from the one that didn’t work to make a kind of FrankenGibson. (Alas, no.)

When the guitar was working, I played on medium and managed four and five stars on mostly everything up to “No One Knows”. Also beyond “No One Knows”. Because let’s face it, “No One Knows” is not “medium”, no matter what that game says.

Refer to the riff that first takes place between 1:08 and 1:10 where you have to play both lead guitar and bass guitar at once. That douche killed me every time unless I stared through the screen — because Guitar Hero is like snappy comebacks. If you think about it, you fail. I should have played it drunk.

Anyway, that’s my meandering story. Hope you didn’t loathe it. I could bitch and moan some more about how playing on the upstroke made me repeat “Killer Queen” so many times to get five stars on easy that my neighbourhood dogs started howling and my fish died, or how upstroke killed my cousin’s firstborn and is the progenitor of AIDS and 4-chan. It’s okay; I won’t.

To sum:

1. Guitar Hero is best played with a working guitar.
2. Guitar Hero is best played whilst either sleep-deprived or drunk.
3. If you can play “Texas Flood” on expert, having baked goods tied to your fingers with string, and subsequently get five stars, you are Alpha Male Plus Numbaa One Strong Man and women will flock to you.
4. Don’t play with the jock. Nobody likes you if you play with the jock.



~Alice M.


3 responses

  1. Haha – I was playing Rock Band last night and can definitely not imagine doing it on a broken peripheral!

    The thing I like about rhythm action games is that eventually muscle memory kicks in and you find that you can play on expert without even paying attention to what you’re doing. Of course, as soon as you realise you aren’t paying attention is the very moment you start messing up!


    May 26, 2011 at 4:28 pm

  2. @JenJen:
    Yeah, that’s exactly it. Like a Magic Eye book.


    May 26, 2011 at 11:01 pm

  3. I really just can’t get a handle on the Rock Band and Guitar Hero rhythm. I do okay with other rhythm games, just can’t do those ones.

    Fun watching others play though.


    May 27, 2011 at 9:52 pm

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