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Guitar Hero Finals: A Tale of Broken Dreams and Broken Combos
Posted on Sunday, August 30 2009 @ 22:39:17 Eastern

Every person who plays games has a game where they want to show off to other people to show how good they are, for some people, it's First Person Shooters and the like.  If there's one game I love to play and play well, it's Guitar Hero.  Now, I can't go and Full Combo like every song I feel like, but I've been playing for over three years now [ever since the first one came out.]  and it's easily one of the games I'm best at.  Though playing for three years, I've never been able to join an actual tournament for it, the National Guitar Hero Contest they had two years back slipped through my fingers since I was not old enough to participate for it.  The only real tournament I've attempted was one at my Local Gamestop for a Slash Poster [which has broken ever since I gotten it] back during the midnight launch of Guitar Hero III.  So at this point in time I'm itching for any competition I can reach.

Months pass with no avail, then my brother tells me of a bar that's running Guitar Hero tournaments and the winner receives $150 Bar Cash and a invitation to a 2-night trip to Destin, FL.  Teams can play from 2-4 members and it's based on total score and highest percentage.  Of course I jump on the ball wanting in since not only are free dinners nice, it'll give me a chance to play Guitar Hero for some fun and to get some people some free food: which I'm all for.  So it's like a 45-minute drive there, and when I get there, it's already booming: loud music, projection screen, and the World Tour kit set up [Rock Band might've been a better decision, but oh well, I love them both.], all is lookin' well.  This may sound egotisical, but I haven't found many people who are better than me in the times I've played in public places [around conventions and such.], so I personally love going into a place which is a stranger to me and melting faces.

Before we go and tear the place up, there are rules to the place: First round plays on Medium, then the next round you can go to Hard, but the minimum is still Medium.  Final Round you can blast any difficulty you want.  So the first couple rounds will be boring, but it's to sift out the other players to the two final teams will burn through the Expert songs and give the people a show.  So I'm feeling pretty good, just playing the fun songs until the beginning of the Final Round.  So we're playing Guitar Hero: Smash Hits, and the final two songs are Cult of Personality & YYZ.  If any of y'all have played either of those songs, it has solos in them, fun solos, and very crowd-pleasing solos.  So right now they could not have picked better songs.  I hit around 98-99% on Cult of Personality, and it's fun just to listen to all the people in the bar whisper under their breath, "What the f***?".  And YYZ I got around 98% on as well, easily cruising to our first win and a cool $150 to spend at the restruant.

I am loving this.  Free food and to be able to play one of my favorite games, it's a great night I get to spend every other Thursday.  It was about early June when I started, and it didn't end until Late August, so I was stoked to get more money.  And we did, we won I believe 5 times in a row, netting us a ridiculous amount of bar cash, and a certain status around the bar.  It was awesome eating Filet Mignon's for friggin' free.

But it wasn't always a walk in the park, our rivals were just as good as we were, with their drummer being ridiculously good.  They were our biggest compeition in the finals.  When the Finals showed up, to me there was almost this upstanding aura of tension just filling the air.  Whoever won this tournament gets a free trip to Florida and bragging rights for the entire off-season. [There are possible seasons of this tournament, this was the first one.]

I figured the Finals was going to be the same deal we've been playing for the past two months.  But the first match was switched up in the most dick-ish way ever.  The team after you picks your song setlist for you, giving anybody the opportunity to knock someone out of the game by giving them bad songs.  The DJ running the contest picks sets of 2 songs to make sure no one picks two 2-minute songs and looks like a complete ass.  Our rivals got to pick our two songs: Love Me Two Times by The Doors & Do It Again by Steely Dan.  I HATE The Doors, but I LOVE Steely Dan; so this is definitely a love/hate setlist going, but I know why they picked it.  Both songs have really technical solos and note charts, tough to play on Expert.  They're trying to screw me over.  But I had other plans.  I go 98% on both songs, my teammates do so as well, we rack up 1.4 million points on the first round and ensure a spot in the second round, it felt damn good.  They play their songs and rack up almost 2 million points, but it doesn't deter the fact we passed that test and were pumped and ready for anything else.

The Second Round Begins.

This was also a new addition to the line-up.  For a crowd-pleasing approach, each team picks two songs to play for fun and then has to play Crazy Train by Ozzy Osbourne to be then graded on that song, top 2 go to the Finals.  Every team went and pick their favorite songs and did their thing, but we decided to hit up the crowd-pumping songs: Low by Flo Rida [Travis Barker Remix] & Beat It by Michael Jackson.  Everyone in that bar knew those songs, and since the songs didn't count: we just went all out.  We got the DJ in and he sung both songs and we were skipping and jamming all over the place to the songs, pumping up the crowd and getting everyone ready for Crazy Train.  Crazy Train hits up and we destroyed it, again securing a spot for the next round: The Finals.  Our rivals make it in as well.  It was a battle for the ages.

The Final Round Begins.

The final songs in which both teams must play are Stranglehold by Ted Nugent & Hot for Teacher by Van Halen.  We flip a coin to see how'll pick the order the teams go in.  I pick Tails, and it's Heads.  We're up first.  We had shown the bar a great time tonight, so the entire bar was behind us.  Right before Stranglehold started, the entire bar initiated the Slow Clap, along with the stomping of feet, and just getting everyone pumped up.  The song starts.

And we blow it out the ****ing roof.

1.8 Million Points, on One Song.  I could smell the beach already.  One song left to go, Hot for Teacher, and then to sit down and high-five my teammates a job well done and a have a drink to Florida.  The DJ calcuates the score for future reference and gives us the go ahead.  Time to rock out a sick song, the Bar waits patiently for the next song, the next song we're about to absolutely destroy, the next solo about to be shredded....


And the drummer ****ing failed.


Couldn't pick up the beat of the song, and ****ing failed.


Rules indicate that if a team fails a song, they must skip it.  In the Final Round, if a team fails a song: the other team must not fail in order to win.  So our drummer goes to Medium, and we finish with a bittersweet 97%, 450k score.  I became lifeless, the bar became lifeless, everyone except our rivals: who must've been crapping their pants in ecstasy.  All they had to do was pass both songs and win the trip to Florida.  I felt sick.  They finished their songs, and it was over.

Their Final Score: 2.1Mil
Our Final Score: 2.6Mil

And they are getting the winning picture taken.  All that hype, all that incredible energy was just sucked out of the place while the other team was presented with the opportunity to head to Florida.  It was a long way home that night, a lukewarm feeling of adrenaline and just a touch of, "What just happened?"  We paid our tab and headed home, back to the real world.  We were rockstars that night: lighting up the crowd in ways we never imagined, and all of a sudden it was pulled underneath us and we were left with nothing.

Just a team of three and a long road ahead.
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