As a child growing up in the 70’s, I was exposed to lots of Aerosmith. They weren’t my band. They were my parents’ band. However, as they matured so too did their sound and styles. I remember them getting together with RunDMC and mashed together such a culture gap that Earth should have ceased to exist. A rock band reaching across the aisle to the rappers of the day seemed as likely as McCain and Obama hugging as Prez and Veep.

Now I did not know much about music as a kid. I knew what I liked, but never bought anyone albums or went to any concerts. Mostly because I couldn’t afford such habits, but also it just wasn’t my thing. It looked very complicated and then there was all the aura of drugs and alcohol etc. It was a hazy epoch thing to admire or abhor depending on where you stood.

So when these Guitar Hero games came out it was finally the moment gamers needed to see what it was like on stage — granted in a hugely simplified version of the experience. Well after a couple iterations and some tweaks on the engine the folks at Activision give us a chance to open for The Bad Boys from Boston.

The graphics for this game are nothing that we haven’t really seen already. The Guitar Hero interface is very good and I can’t think of anything to improve upon. Neither can I. We have the same set of Anime-like characters to pick and play on the stages that we’ve seen in other versions of the game. There is a set of caricatures of the Aerosmith band that play when it’s their turn. You don’t get to play them, but you do get to play their songs.

When Aerosmith is on stage we see a pretty good emulation of them and their antics we’ve seen in videos. There are headbands on heads and scarves on the microphone stand and the guys are doing their thing as you are wailing away on your guitar.

It’s not quite the same thing as being there, but it looks good enough to be fun for your audience.

It seems fairly obvious that the notes have been simplified a smidge. I have some experience now so the Easy version isn’t quite the challenge it once was, but it seems a tad easier than usual. I can even survive hard on tunes that inspired Tyler and the others. However, that all changes when we get to the play the tracks from the hit-list of the Aerosmith band.

It’s almost as if Joe Perry saw the guitar track buttons coming down the screen and said he was insulted. The engineers then responded by throwing in some extra buttons. Joe Perry said it was good and walked away. The engineers then responded by making that pattern appear constantly throughout the song. The Aerosmith tracks are harder to play than the inspiration tracks, but once you get the pattern it’s not really that hard. The tracks themselves are not all of the best songs we the people might have chosen, but the collection is respectable and nostalgic. Let’s face it. That’s what the game is about: nostalgia.

The inspiration tracks were a lot of fun. Cheap Trick’s Dream Police is one of my favorite songs. I Hate Myself for Loving You from Joan Jett is burned indelibly into my brain from childhood. Cat Scratch Fever is synonymous with 70’s rock. They are all basically high energy songs with a low complexity factor, and that makes them easier to master. It’s a slightly false sense of accomplishment, but I’ll take it.

Your Wiimote fits into the guitar from a compartment in the backside. It’s a slight hassle having to open this up and get the Wiimote out to play something else — man cannot live on Guitar Hero alone — but it is a decent way to save some resources. Imagine the size of the Nyko station will have to be as it doubles as a guitar stand to charge that puppy up. Plus, you couldn’t exactly play baseball, in a feasible fashion, with a guitar. Perhaps it is just a matter of time? Just remember, you heard it here first. (afaik)

The guitar itself is light, responsive, and feels solid. Plus, the Wiimote in the stock makes its own sound effects so you know when you screwed up via sound locally and not drowned out from the rest of the TV’s noises. I had no trouble with the wireless’ ability to keep up with my fingers, and the strum-bar has that clickity issue that lets you know you did strum with an eventually-you-won’t-notice-click with every pass.

Perhaps if this became more of a ‘felt it click’ rather than ‘hear it click’ this will be the ultimate in emulated Guitars, but it’s not all that bad especially when you’re in the groove.

Once upon a time, I was a data processor. I received orders and filled out electronic requests according to 5-digit codes and it was very tedious. I moved away from that department for a couple months and when I came back the data processing portion was a snap. Codes I hadn’t seen in weeks went to my fingers as if I’d been doing the job for years.

So too had I set the GH series down for a bit before this came across GH: Aerosmith on my desk and when I started the game I barely had to think about where my fingers went or timing the strums accordingly. I still feel that the tunes have been polished to be a little less insane, but I was able to pick up and play fairly smoothly. This, for me, is an enormous achievement.

If you feel you’ve burnt out on the series and haven’t played for a while then I have a notion you’re going to pick this up and feel the joys of your very first guitar (controller). The Wii can’t offer online downloading of tunes, and that means the game won’t last that long. Still, you do get to follow the career path of the group and see video clips of interviews with the guys about their journey.

The video snippets from each of the guys’ experiences are worth the game all by itself. Stories from Steve Tyler about their first gig at Nipmuc high school are entertaining and insightful. They give you a feel of how the group came up with their sound and its changes throughout their times together. It’s not an episode of the History Channel, but it is a nice distraction from the controls.

If you’re a big fan of Aerosmith you simply have to have the game. If you’re a Guitar Hero fan then you’re going to enjoy the extra tracks to play, but you’re not going to be particularly challenged by the curve of difficulty. If you hate Aerosmith, or Guitar Hero, then you shouldn’t have made it to this point, but thanks for reading.

The game is not very long or difficult so this lowers the value a bit, but it still great at parties and good for getting new people hooked into the fun.