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Guitar Hero 2, part two: The bootleg

Mike Musgrove

I'm suffering from a rawk hangover today. While Frank was doing his text-message frenzy thing last night, I was at home fake-jamming 'til the wee hours on "Stairway to Heaven" and Metallica's "Master of Puppets" on a hacked version of Guitar Hero 2.

The next version of the hit title Guitar Hero isn't due until March, when publisher Activision is scheduled to roll out the first version of the game for the Xbox 360. But crazed tinkerers and fans have figured out how to crack the game open and insert their own song choices on the latest PlayStation 2 version of the game. As many Post readers already know, I'm a big fan of the game.

Poke around online and you can find new, homebrewed Guitar Hero tracks with songs from bands like AC/DC and Pink Floyd, which aren't featured on either version of the official game. The version of Pink Floyd's "Comfortably Numb" was a blast and I haven't even gotten to other goodies like Van Halen's "Hot for Teacher" or Lynyrd Skynrd's "Sweet Home Alabama" yet.

Getting this thing to work is a bit of a chore unless you have a geeky friend with the time and knowhow to perform some techno-magic with a "modded" PlayStation that has been souped up to read homemade, burned disks. (Thanks, Daniel!)

If this hacked-up game were an official release from the real game's developer Harmonix, I might give it a thumbs down. It's a little clunky and there's the occasional crash. Sometimes the "notes" on these bootleg songs don't seem exactly right somehow, as they pretty much always do in the official version of the game. Sometimes the timing of the notes seems a little off. And in some songs, the guitar part doesn't drop out at all when you don't play the corresponding note -- which sort of dampens the game's effectiveness as an enabler of the ol' "I'm a guitar god" fantasy.

But whatever. I don't have high hopes that Metallica is on the verge of letting game developers put their songs in a game like this. Until that happens, this will do fine.

By Mike Musgrove  |  January 25, 2007; 12:16 PM ET  | Category:  Mike Musgrove
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Isn't this... Umm... Technically, illegal? Just wondering ;)

Posted by: Joran | January 25, 2007 2:51 PM

I just want this game on my wii! Forget xbox 360 and ps. It seems a natural for the wii anyways.

Posted by: dotted | January 25, 2007 3:24 PM

Did any of these bands get paid for the use of their music? Was this music cleared through licensing? Are we just going to go back to the days when R+B artists like Ruth Brown didn't get paid and had to work as janitors?

Posted by: Bethesdan | January 25, 2007 5:56 PM

I want a Wii Guitar Hero controller that you can virtually smash.

Wiki says that a modchip itself is not actually illegal:

USA legality under DMCA

The Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) cites that circumvention devices, including, but not limited to mod-chips, are illegal, because the device circumvents the copy-protection features of their host systems. In reality, the mod-chips themselves are not illegal, they are just pieces of hardware inserted into the gaming console to override system defaults. The software is what is illegal because it was made to perform illegal actions such as decoding DVDs and copying games onto the Hard Drive.

Posted by: Action Replay Man | January 25, 2007 5:57 PM

As a game reviewer, I would expect Mr. Musgrove to condone video game piracy, but I guess it's okay since he loves Guitar Hero. I can't believe The Washington Post allowed him to add this post to his blog basically telling everyone that it's okay to download homebrewed software so you can play Guitar Hero songs that probably haven't been approved by the artists. Mr. Musgrove is just contributing to piracy since none of the artists will receive any royalities. Shame on Mr. Musgrove and shame on The Washington Post for letting him get away with it.

Posted by: Doug | January 26, 2007 1:52 PM

well now, if you own the music on CD or in another format, it's legal to have a copy in MP3 or whatever fomrat these songs are in. I'm not sure this is illegal, in other words.

Posted by: Song | January 26, 2007 3:39 PM

On the contrary. Mr Musgrove has done us a service by pointing out that things like this are for real and not just internet hoaxes. It shows that fans of the game have a real appetite for these songs. Look how much more complicated it is to make a song work with Guitar Hero than just to pay a buck to download and listen to it. These companies really need to get on the ball offering more songs for play. Companies are always trying to find ways to make more money on the internet, well here is one. Release whole albums of songs for download and play both as an MP3 and as Guitar Hero format and everyone wins. As someone who has bought Stairway to Heaven four times in four different formats, I think I own it enough to play it on Guitar Hero if I could figure out how to get the modified version of the song into the game. I would like to know from Mr Musgrove if this will encourage them to make the Xbox version of Guitar Hero with pay to download songs?

Posted by: CharlieX | January 26, 2007 5:12 PM

I would much rather pay a buck or two to download a Guitar Hero version of the song on the Xbox 360 than mess around with this homebrew stuff, that's for sure.

I believe that the Xbox 360 version will let fans download & buy songs for the upcoming version for that console via the Xblox Live Marketplace. The 360 version will have ten new songs, from artists like Pearl Jam and My Chemical Romance. I think the downloadable stuff on the way is still a secret.

When you buy high-def video content from Xbox Live Marketplace, you have access to both a high-def and a regular resolution version of that same TV show or movie. Would be kind of interesting if Msft did the same thing for the 360 version of GH songs... Buy the 360 version of a song and you also get a song file for use on your (Microsoft) Zune player.

Not that I have a Zune player, but I've heard that some Xbox 360 owners bought one because they hope the company will come up with some such interesting bells & whistles like that.

Posted by: Musgrove | January 26, 2007 6:01 PM

Crazed tinkerers you know it. How do they make any of the song drop out while the rest plays? If you can really buy the songs you want I may buy an xbox after years of only the ps2. What about a pc version?

Posted by: Major Tom | January 31, 2007 12:21 AM

You use the term "a little overwhelmed." Isn't this redundant?

Posted by: Clark | February 4, 2007 10:26 PM

The Wii would be a horrible idea to carry this game. It's bad enough kids throw controllers at the screen, now you want to have a guitar to swing around....stick to the best system PS2!

And if STYXX doesn't show up on the next version of the game, they've already lost.

Posted by: Topher | February 9, 2007 2:33 PM

The Xbox 360 version of Guitar HEro 2 will allow us to download new songs from the marketplace, you can see this info at . Its for real.

Posted by: Ricardo Lithgow | February 15, 2007 4:50 PM

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