Over the past few weeks our intrepid Robyn Dobson has been working tirelessly, strumming virtual cords as she plays Activision’s upcoming [i]Guitar Hero Encore: Rocks the 80s[/i] for Snackbar’s upcoming review. The game, which ships a month from now, is shaping up to be one of the most highly anticipated summer releases for the PlayStation 2, offering rhythm action enthusiasts some thirty “new” songs against which to test their hard rockin’ mettle.
However, with [url=http://www.snackbar-games.com/n2640.html]most of the tracks known[/url], it’s become painfully obvious to many that their favorite 80s band or song might not be represented in this latest title in the [i]Guitar Hero[/i] franchise. It’s true, that for a title that puts itself out there as representative of an entire decade of music, not only are some of the track selections questionable, but so too are the obvious omissions.
Granted, the build we have been playing was designed for preview purposes, and anything is subject to change, but the completeness of the game in our hands makes us quite confident in the realization that despite our wanting to the contrary, some things were simply not meant to be. Because of this, we’ve put together a small list of iconic bands and songs that should have been included in the game, but were left out. Licensing fees be damned.
[b]1. Def Leppard[/b] – While established in the 1970s, Def Leppard truly hit its stride in the 80s, becoming one of the most influential rock bands of the decade and a linchpin in what would later be referred to as “The New Wave of British Heavy Metal.” Yet, despite this, not one song from their four albums released during the 80s make an appearance on Encore. [i]Pyromania [/i]is particularly notable in that it managed to rank as the second most popular album in the US in 1983, being beat only by Michael Jackson’s iconic [i]Thriller [/i]album – another record mysteriously absent from this title. Seriously, WTF?
[b]2. Van Halen[/b] – Another band that traces its roots back to the 70s, Van Halen’s influences on 80s rock are almost too many to recall. The band’s monumental [i]1984 [/i]record produced a bevy of hit singles, including both hard rock and pop hits that garnered praise from both camps. How can you have a game about 80s music without a single lick from Eddie Van Halen, really?
[b]3. Bon Jovi[/b] – The rock and roll voice of New Jersey needs representation in an 80s rock game, and yet, inexplicably, Bon Jovi is nowhere to be heard. The band’s 1986 album, Slippery When Wet, gave us such rock anthems as “Livin’ on a Prayer,” “You Give Love a Bad Name,” and “Wanted Dead or Alive,” any of which would have found a welcome home in Encore‘s set list. Maybe making this list was a mistake…I’m starting to get depressed.
[b]4. Pat Benatar[/b] – The female singer’s 1980 chart topper “Hit Me with Your Best Shot” seems tailor made for [i]Guitar Hero[/i], as the song punctuated early 80s radio as one of the most popular songs of the era. Her Crimes of Passion album also produced the heavily MTV played “You Better Run,” another valid candidate for Encore as well.
[b]5. Dire Straits[/b] – Perhaps more electronic than some [i]Guitar Hero[/i] fans may enjoy, the guitar riffs in the intro to 1985’s “Money for Nothing” alone beg for rhythm game treatment. In fact, the song’s rocking guitar licks by Hal Lindes helped define the decade’s music video generation. Hey, Activision, I want my MTV!
[b]6. R.E.M.[/b] – Now, true, the bulk of Micheal Stipe and Company’s alternative rock band R.E.M.’s draw didn’t kick up until the 90s were well underway, the group’s poppy “Stand” quickly became an anthem for roller rinks across the county when it hit radio waves in 1989. The song is fast and fun, and has a great guitar undercurrent that would make it a worthwhile addition to [i]Guitar Hero[/i]’s set list.
[b]7. John “Couger” Mellencamp[/b] – The socially charged, farm boy lyrics of the 80’s “Couger” still ring out on 80s-themed radio stations today, though it’s the singer’s “Jack and Diane,” which creates a kind of Normal Rockwell-style lyrical painting, that is perhaps most deserving of a place on this disc. Plus, the song packs a pretty meaty guitar as well.
[b]8. INXS[/b] – This is perhaps a bit of a personal indulgence of mine, but any game claiming to be a window into the 80s that doesn’t feature Australia’s INXS is sorely incomplete. Honestly, you could create entire games based solely on the albums [i]Kick [/i]or [i]Listen Like Thieves[/i], but I have to say that the latter’s “What You Need” particularly stands out as perfect material for any guitar hero in training.
[b]9. Kenny Loggins [/b]- Kenny Loggins’ is perhaps a bit too cheesy for [i]Guitar Hero[/i] normally, but cheese was the aural h’orderve of choice in the 80s, and in this capacity his music was perfect. I defy you to listen to “Danger Zone,” a rocking cool track in its own right, and not come away weeping for its absence on this game. “Footloose” as well, though I can scarcely imagine a tougher song to play on Expert.
[b]10. George Michael [/b]- Speaking of cheese, George Michael’s early career is something that is perhaps best forgotten. However, the singer’s 1987 pop album [i]Faith [/i]gave us a string of great tracks, not the least of which was the record’s title track. George Michael’s ass is practically burned into the retinas of those who grew up watching MTV, and my fingers itch to rock out to “Faith.” Please please please don’t go away.