I remember first playing Guitar Hero at a friend's apartment. So cozy was the spot that we'd gather on a regular basis to play various multiplayer games throughout the day, only to end up turning them off to watch our favourite Sunday night animated TV shows. We'd usually play a few more "FIVE MINUTES REMAINING YOU GUYSSS" matches of Far Cry: Instincts, then go our seperate ways.
I was quite weary of the rhtyhm-based games, finding that Dance Dance Revolution and its counterpart, Karaoke Revolution, were just too gimmicky for casual gamers like myself. I often saw kids (teenagers, but I'll just call them kids) playing it at the local arcade, people looking on in laughter as they didn't look like they were dancing, so much as semi-rhythmically stomping a piece of plastic with their feet. When a friend showed up at the apartment with a plastic guitar controller, I thought oh boy, here we go...
After we popped the game in, it was mesmerizing. Not only was the music good, but the controls felt surprisingly legit. Note progressions and everything about the game felt precise, at least with my experience as a (real-life, not plastic) bassist. It was fun.
Then the whole fad got a bit tedious. It started to focus on being challenging, instead of being fun. I guess the two can go hand in hand, but when your hands cramp up after several failed attempts at ridiculous solos on the Medium difficulty, something has to give. Unfortunately, after being an avid follower of the series, I gifted the first three of the series to my girlfriend's little sister. She'd get a kick out of them.
Then, The Beatles: Rock Band was released, and it re-invigorated my interest for the genre. Being a die-hard Beatle-maniac, I picked up the Collector's Edition, drum kit, guitar and all.
While the presentation was phenomenal, I loved how this rhythm game focused on rocking out and having fun, instead of being ridiculously and frustratingly difficult. The drums worked remarkably well, even though I couldn't enjoy them at 100%... curse living in a second-floor apartment... in any case, the game inspired me to buy Rock Band, and then Rock Band 2.
I'm back into my obsession for these games. I've re-bought Guitar Heros 1 through 3, downloaded countless songs for Rock Band (just my favourites, of course) and just recently got Guitar Hero: World Tour, seeing as how it's compatible with Rock Band "instruments".
This brings up a personal dilemma - which do I prefer? Rock Band or Guitar Hero?
Well, the overall feel of Rock Band wins out. Between little colored squares and little colored circles, the squares win out. They just seem layed out better, and I'm not sure why, but I'm pretty sure they're easier to hit.
For an overall look and sound, Guitar Hero wins out. The character customization seems to be more in-depth, and the animation in the background (not that you have time to look at it anyway) looks much more vibrant and colourful. Don't look at the crowds though... you'll see several clones, all moving in unison, and it detracts from the feel of working a crowd, even if it is a fake one. As for the sound, it sounds like you're playing along with an mp3, with random cheering noises in the background. Rock Band adds to the crowd feel by adding an arena-like quality to their songs. Not bad, but not quite as clear as Guitar Hero.
The most importantelement is set lists, and I feel that it's a tie between the two. Rock Band doesn't have that strong of an on-disc setlist, but more than makes up for it with downloadable content. Bands seem to want to back RB more than GH, it seems. However, for on-disc content, Guitar Hero wins out. Any game that takes my favourite band (Tool) and incorporates them in their own special way has to take the cake. Guitar Hero: Metallica is also an amazing turn of luck for me, as are The Beatles: Rock Band, and the upcoming Green Day rendition of the game.
So there it is. Fanboys of each series with argue vehemently with the other, opposing fans, but it all comes down to personal preference.
As with everything else in life, I say "can't we all just get along?" Cliché, but oh how I wish we could.