There's a point at which every fad overstays its welcome. Could it be that Guitar Hero is already just a sour note from being booed out of America's living room?
For evidence, look no further than the plethora of GH cash-in products hawked at this month's Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, the annual parade of cutting-edge stuff that nobody really needs. From knockoff guitars (think "Shredmaster!" — or don't) to customized controllers that substitute phony guitar playing with phony record scratching, all that's missing is Guitar Hero-brand cereal.
Following are some of the countless GH products displayed at CES, each of them a compelling sign that this Hero is ready for a fall. Watch for them soon at a Buy More chain near you:
Guitar Hero "Air Guitar Rocker" (Jada Toys, $30)
In a soul-crushing new video making the internet rounds, a grown man in a fright wig is seen demonstrating the officially licensed "Air Guitar Rocker" for a cluster of embarrassed reporters. It works like this: You wave a special guitar pick in front of a chintzy motion-sensor belt buckle, causing a tiny amplifier (strapped to your side) to play one of five metal songs in time with your air-guitar movements. It's perfect for those who find Guitar Hero itself not quite phony enough. "And we're gonna have an expansion pack . . . and a belt buckle that is genre-specific," says the stone-faced pitchman. Not included: a shower in which to sit and cry alone.
Art Guitar's AG RiffMaster (Artguitar.com, $399)
How far would you go to feel like a rock star, without devoting a single second to the craft of songwriting? For a mere $399, you too can be the proud owner of a real guitar that has been gutted, custom-painted with Kiss logos, and Frankensteined into a Guitar Hero controller. But wait, there's more: For the everyday low price of $1,999, you get one ex-guitar and a former Peavey amp that holds your choice of a PlayStation or Xbox (not included). Complete the look by hollowing out your own body and stuffing it with cream cheese.
XFPS Mini Guitar (Farmer, $69)
Experts agree: There's no better time to learn fake guitar than at a young age. So it's a shame that Guitar Hero's controllers are way too big for the little ones' sausage-like fingers. But now there's the infant-sized XFPS Mini Guitar, an instrument so impossibly tiny it was test-marketed on hamsters. It can be yours for just $69, plus an additional $70 for an Xbox adapter. Consider it seed money for paving your child's path to a lifetime of cheap and easy shortcuts.
SoundTech Ediface Digital Guitar Interface (SoundTech, $299)
Revolutionary in that its primary use is for creating actual music on a computer, this device comes packaged with a nifty plug-and-play game that teaches guitar. Of course, the DGI has drawn attention not for this feature, but because it's 100 percent Guitar Hero compatible. That's right, kids: At last you can convert your old-school guitar notes into genuine fake ones that dance across your TV screen. Don't say those years of costly lessons didn't come in handy!
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