They had the best local multiplayer
The only thing better than those memories is being able to share them with other people, and no game that I’ve owned has done a better job of bring people together for a play session. Many gamers have had Halo, Civilization, or StarCraft LAN parties, but Rock Band 2 was my jam.
It wasn’t difficult to convince my friends and family that were already gamers to throw down on some plastic instruments, but the best part was getting nongamers in on the fun. My sister. My friend’s sister. My other friend’s girlfriend. Cousins. Co-workers. Everyone was coming out of the woodwork and wanted a turn to rock out.
Suddenly, New Year’s doubled as a Rock Band party. Soon after that, there were impromptu get-togethers where people would bring a case of beer and play the game all through the night. Music we thought was lame was suddenly karaoke fodder for many a drunken Friday night (talkin’ to you, Bon Jovi).
They introduced everyone to new music
Probably the best thing about Guitar Hero and Rock Band is that both franchises played a huge part in introducing gamers to classic tracks and hot new artists alike. Hell, I didn’t even care for rock music that much before Guitar Hero came along. Metallica is one of my absolute favorite things on this planet, but I didn’t get into them before my friend described their albums as full of final-tier Guitar Hero tracks.
That’s the way it worked for a lot of people to some degree. Even if you’ve been listening to rock music all your life, there was always something new to uncover in a new Guitar Hero or Rock Band game. Later releases were packed with 70-80 tracks, so there was always something new for everyone. And I dare anyone to tell me they didn’t enjoy the hair metal tracks more than they thought they would.
Thinking back, I’ve heard a ton of music that I otherwise would’ve ignored if not for these games. Obvious stuff like Rush, Iron Maiden and Boston made their ways into my earholes through rhythm games first, and I feel no shame in admitting that. And have I mentioned Metallica enough times in this article yet?
I know there’s very little chance of these games ever making a return. Sales numbers for the latest Guitar Hero and Rock Band releases were awful, and only a miraculous innovation in gameplay would bring them back. Still, I hold on to the hope that one day they’ll return, and the past games are still plenty playable.