From Guitar Hero to Rock Band

After manning the Rock Band guitar for a few sessions, I’m much closer to my Guitar Hero III comfort level. Overall the transition from a GH3 Wii guitar to an XBox360 Rock Band guitar isn’t too bad, but there are some differences.

Rock Band guitar is “splashy”

While the GH3 controller has a lot of tactile (and audible) feedback through the clicky buttons and strum bar, the Rock Band “axe” is much less chatty. The first time I picked up a Rock Band guitar it felt like I was trying to play on a blanket or something; you press on the thing and wonder if it had any effect. And if your part doesn’t stand out in the music, then you have to pay close attention to the explosion animation of the notes, especially if you have people singing and slamming on the drums around you.

Rock Band guitar meta-buttons are poorly situated

On my GH3 controller I never go to town on the whammy bar and find that I’ve accidentally paused the game or activated star power; on Rock Band I’ve done both… several times.

Rock Band hammer-ons and pull-offs need more distinction

In GH3, the hammer-ons and pull-offs and very clearly marked by “glowing” notes; Rock Band denotes them by displaying hammer-ons and pull-offs at about half the size of regular notes. Maybe this would be fine if my friend were a good consumer and had a nice 50″ plasma to go with his Rock Band rig. As it is, a 27″ CRT with voice, drums, and guitar crammed on there makes things hard to see.

Rock Band is easier

I won’t go as far as to say that Rock Band’s Hard difficulty level to equivalent to GH3’s Medium, but I’d listen to the argument. The Rock Band difficulty scale is definitely easier than GH3’s. On GH3 I am about a 3 or 4 star Hard player, though I’ve been failing out of the later songs (the “galloping triplets” on that Muse song keep defeating me). In Rock Band I can hit 4 or 5 stars on Hard for almost every song. As my friend says, this makes sense because Rock Band is not a guitar-focused game.

Rock Band does not hide star phrases

I recall running through an Easy or Medium GH3 song, hitting every note, and being confused at seeing that I had not hit every star phrase. The problem is that if you are in star power mode, then GH3 converts all star phrases to regular notes. I’m not sure what the rationale is for this; maybe this would result in situations where you’d be able to stay in star power mode for the entire song? Rock Band does not have this restriction from what I can tell. If memory serves, hitting an SP while in star power mode will simply increase the power you have remaining; I like this better than GH3.


Overall, GH3 is superior to Rock Band in terms of pure guitar game play – makes sense what with the Guitar Hero and all. However, the party atmosphere that Rock Band promotes defines a whole new level of social gaming. As Rock Band improves, I’m not sure that GH will be able to compete. Why buy a guitar simulation game when you can buy an entire band simulation game that includes the guitar aspect? Watching these franchises over the next few years will be interesting.

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4 Responses to From Guitar Hero to Rock Band

  1. planting42 says:

    Just a note about the star phrases in GH3… I think that the idea they are trying to convey is that you hit a certain part of the song and use your built up star power to rock out 200%. The reason they don’t let you hit star phrases while in SP mode IMHO is that you are already concentrating on rocking out and can’t get ‘more rock juice’ until you’ve used up what you started with… that and it makes getting 100% and 100% SP’s (and in turn the highest scores) that much more of a challenge. Now its more important to not only hit every note… but to also pay attention after the song to the more stats screen and plan the use of your star phrases accordingly. I generally hit it when its ready and save the last 3 for use at once if the song has an odd # of star phrases.

  2. Jimbo says:

    Rock Band is far superior to Guitar Hero in all aspects- I seriously have no idea why you would say otherwise.
    Admittedly, the Rock Band guitar SUCKS, but I simply use an explorer instead, considering it is compatible.
    The Hammer-on’s are not difficult to see, you just need to get used to seeing them. there is a much more accurate timing window, rather than Guitar Hero’s huge half second window.
    It is slightly easier, but that’s much better than what guitar hero did- they add notes that aren’t there to ramp up the difficulty.
    Rock Band has a much higher larger and higher quality music selection, along with a great DLC.
    I have beaten Guitar Hero 1-2 on expert, and 3 on hard, along with Rock Band’s drum, vocal, and guitar campaigns on expert, and I will tell you, Rock Bad is far superior.

  3. ASPSAX says:

    Regarding difficulty I think it’d be more fair to compare the games on expert, since all the notes are being represented. Guitar Hero III’s hard mode is very awkwardly charted compared to Rock Band, the galloping triplets you speak of are exactly the same on hard mode as on expert (no joke or exaggeration here, they are exactly the same).

    Also while the on-disc songs in Rock Band are generally easier than Guitar Hero III’s, there’s been quite a few challenging downloads in Rock Band. The Metallica Pack, the Disturbed Pack, some of the Judas Priest songs, Working Man, Shockwave, Thrasher, etc. All of these songs could give Guitar Hero songs a run for their money (Especially with their recent DLC… Coldplay? Gimme a break!)

    Not to mention that Rock Band is more strict on when you have to hit the notes, especially with hammer-ons/pull-offs. It’s a lot easier to fake HO/PO sections in GHIII.

  4. DLeh says:

    No, fail. all three fail. Rock band = harder = moar realistic = so much better. Everything is slicker in rock band- the characters look real, the entire overall feel is more of an authentic current-gen video game. Guitar hero looks like it was designed for a japanese arcade. gh can gtfo, they are now going to resort to copying rock band, and its going to suck.

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