Transitioning from the medium to hard difficulty can be one of the hardest things for a Guitar Hero or Rock Band guitar player to do. The initial switch from easy to medium is downright simple by comparison, most beginning players can adapt from three to four buttons fairly quickly.
The real challenge starts when going from the four button setup of medium to the much more difficult five button configuration of the hard and expert difficulties. It’s easy to get confused when the game requires players to push multiple buttons with the same finger. The transition from medium to hard in Rock Band and Guitar Hero is perhaps one of the most difficult in the music game genre.
Adapt to the Orange Button
Some players insist on using their pinkie finger to press both the blue and orange buttons on the fret board, keeping their other three fingers in their original positions over the first three buttons.
This technique is flawed on several levels. The distance between the fourth and fifth buttons makes using the shortest finger on the hand to hit them both almost physically impossible. Keeping the pointer finger on the green button while stretching to reach the orange button with your pinkie can also lead to some incredibly uncomfortable hand positions and cramps.
It’s also pretty much impossible to press both the blue and orange buttons simultaneously or transition between them quickly this way.
The trick to success at the hard difficulty is to think of the five fret buttons as two separate sets of four buttons. The first is the one player have most likely already mastered by playing on the medium difficulty, the green through blue buttons. Shift the fingers down one position for the second set, red through orange.
Finger the second set exactly the same as the first, use the pointer finger for the red button, middle finger for the yellow, ring finger for the blue, and pinkie for the orange. It’s far easier to slide the hand up and down the fret board this way than it is to constantly stretch the pinkie to hit both the orange and blue buttons.
Use Practice Mode
It will take practice to get used to sliding your whole hand up and down the buttons, but once players get the hang of it, they should see a marked improvement in their playing ability. Both Rock Band and Guitar Hero have excellent practice modes that allow players to slow down the tempo of the notes. Start out slowly, and gradually increase the tempo until full speed is reached.
The hard difficulty is where playing Rock Band and Guitar Hero starts to feel like playing an actual instrument. The transition may take some patience and effort, but the feeling of shredding through a favorite song using all five of the controller’s buttons is very satisfying and makes all the difficulty worthwhile.
How to Master Guitar Hero or Rock Band
Whether it be for competition, for friendship, or for killing time, social circles have come to embrace the new generation of musical games for all platforms – most prominently Guitar Hero and Rock Band, from here on out referred to as Guitar Games.
However, because the difficulty levels in these games can often leave people unsatisfied, it is important to learn a few tricks to master these games.
Learning Means You Have To Take Baby Steps if Possible
It can be frustrating to master one song, only to move up a single difficulty level and fail within the first thirty seconds of a song – but improving oneself does not have to rely on simply increasing difficulty levels. Expert mode assumes a mastery of hard mode.
Hard mode assumes a mastery of normal mode, and so on and so forth. A player who is stuck on medium should not move on to hard until after being able to five-star a song without using star power or rock power.
Taking baby steps then means setting clear goals. Do not move on to a harder song or difficulty until finishing the current one with a 95% accuracy rate. If that can’t be done, a player should not be afraid to move back to an easier song.
These baby steps break down the learning process and help to build skills slowly, but surely – and that means that mastery feels more natural, as it is something a player has been doing for some time by the time they arrive at expert mode.
Use the Training Mode When Moving To A Harder Difficulty
Guitar Games love to throw some insanely fun solos at players, but these insanely fun solos can sometimes fly by the player so insanely fast, they have no idea what is actually going on. Both Guitar Hero and Rock Band have a training mode that allows a player to slow the song down to half speed, among other speed settings.
Taking difficult solos slowly can help to establish muscle memory, and is highly recommended, especially just after increasing the difficulty on a particular song.
Using the training mode does not have to be a solo practice option, either. One reason that training isn’t as widely used as it ought to be is that many Guitar Game players don’t necessarily own a copy of the game themselves, and wish to socialize more rather than simply practice.
Fortunately, making the training mode competitive is a great way to involve a group – players can still try to find out who can get the longest streak or the most accurate play of a song, even at half speed. This competition may not favor the newer player, but it does help to establish good practice habits, and gives motivation to do better.
Build Muscle Association (Muscle Memory)
Many newer players on Guitar Games have to remember which button is in a given location. It is for this reason that the easy mode on most games only includes three notes within their difficulty. Regardless of a player’s skill level, it is imperative to associate a color on screen with a finger without any interim thought necessary.
Taking the extra time to remember that the green button is in a certain location, then to push the button will slow a player down, make stumbles worse, and prevent them from being able to succeed when unexpected sections of songs arrive.
Training muscle association can be difficult at first, but keeping eyes on a screen, and working to not visualize the guitar itself can go a long way toward getting a player to expert mode itself. Moreover, with this muscle association, a player can dedicate his or her thoughts to either looking farther ahead in the song for changes, or actually speaking to one’s friends while playing a game.
Have Fun Playing Guitar Games
The main point of a Guitar Game, of course, is to have fun playing it. If at any time a player is not having fun, something is the matter. Having fun not only helps a player to live up to this original intention of the game makers, but also goes a long way towards achieving mastery.
Replaying enjoyable songs helps to establish good muscle habits, encourages baby steps, and lets a player understand his or her style in a better way. People tend to be somewhat good at what they enjoy doing, and as long as a Guitar Game is an enjoyable experience, a player will eventually find mastery of that game.
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