Saturday, August 11, 2007

Frets on Fire

In the world of Geekdom, there's one phenomenon that's sweeping the nation like the opening of another George Lucas film. The phenomenon is Guitar Hero. A game where even the nerdiest of nerds can play out their rockstar fantasies. The game even includes a controller in the form of a guitar with buttons for frets and a rocking switch that you strum to play the notes. Similar to games like Dance Dance Revolution, you have to hit the right notes as colored markers run down the screen indicating what fret buttons to hold down.

So what's the big deal?
I think everyone is born with an innate desire to be a rocker. Haven't we all seen that rockstar on stage whaling on his guitar with fingers as fast as lightning and then say to yourself, "Damn, I wish I could do that!". The game is allows anyone to experience the joy of hitting that climactic riff without the years of practice needed to learn a real guitar. And unlike a real guitar, you get instant gratification with just a modicum of practice.

Then I realized I had a wife.
Obviously, buying another gadget the size of a guitar that was going to live in the living room isn't an easy sell. I pretty much gave up on my rockstar dreams until one day I saw some YouTube videos of guys playing this Guitar Hero clone called Frets on Fire. The people who made this ingeniously figured out that if you held your keyboard upside-down like a guitar, the F1-F5 keys would be in the perfect position to be used as fret buttons. Plus, the program is open-source (ie free) and you can download a bunch of songs for it and even import the songs from the Guitar Hero game. So now I don't need to keep around a plastic guitar and I can try out hundreds more songs than ever could with the Guitar Hero version. And again,... its free so why not give it a shot.

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