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Guitar Hero: Smash Hits Box Art
Beenox Studios

Guitar Hero: Smash Hits

Try to remember a time before music games. Itís a lot like trying to remember what happened before the big bang. Itís possible to guess what it was like in an abstract sense, but the ensuing explosion of plastic instruments and primary colored buttons has changed the gaming landscape forever. Guitar Hero was the series that started it all, leading the charge of toy guitars into every college dorm room in the country. Guitar Hero: Smash Hits is the newest installment in the ubiquitous franchise, but itís best to think of it as a greatest hits album collecting some of the best songs from the history of the series.

For what is essentially a greatest hits collection, some effort was put into the presentation. The venues representing the wonders of the world such as the Amazon River and the Sphinx are inventive and have some nice art direction. Thereís even a story, something about the God of Rock challenging Guitar Hero superstars to play the wonders of the world in order to gain the ultimate rock artifact. Itís all window-dressing, just like the bland graphics and same old Guitar Hero menu aesthetic. But it doesnít really matter, appearance is secondary. Itís still important, but the games in this franchise live or die by song selection.

In that area, Guitar Hero: Smash Hits succeeds. While it may matter less to owners of other consoles, many of the songs in Smash Hits make their way to a Nintendo console for the first time ever. Every one of the fifty included songs is an original master recording, even if it was a cover in a previous game. Itís great to hear the actual artist versions of songs like ďKiller QueenĒ and ďMore Than a FeelingĒ, especially since master tracks have become the standard in the years following the original Guitar Hero. If that werenít enough, each and every song features the full band-play introduced in Guitar Hero: World Tour.

Full-band functionality is a great but not really unexpected feature. In fact, Smash Hits would have been a step backwards without it. Itís the same good time found in World Tour and Rock Band; guitar, drums, bass and vocals working together to create the best performance possible. As far as multiplayer experiences go, playing in a full band with three other friends is completely unparalleled. The cripplingly lonely can also be hooked up with a band via Wi-Fi matchmaking, the same system found in World Tour.

There are a few minor complaints. Music downloaded from World Tour is not playable here (aside from custom GHTunes) and vice versa. There is no way to transfer music from Smash Hits to World Tour, which means switching a disc if someone wants to play a certain song. Itís hardly fair to expect such functionality on Wii, but it essentially means Smash Hits is a stand-alone expansion. Perhaps it may have worked better as downloadable content for World Tour.

At this point, Guitar Hero games have reached the same formula as annual sports franchises like Madden and Tiger Woods. The core gameplay remains unchanged from game to game with only incremental improvements and new songs to be found. Itís not a bad thing (yet). After all, there are only so many things that can be done to the basic playstyle without diluting it. It just means that Guitar Hero: Smash Hits contains absolutely no surprises. It may not be worth it to veterans of the series, but Smash Hits is a worthy investment for those who only started rocking after the series hit the Wii.

final score 7.0/10

Staff Avatar Shawn Warren
Staff Profile | Email
"Do I know what rhetorical means?!"

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