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The Guitar Hero games were some of the first casual games to achieve mass appeal, so it's fitting that so many of them are now available on the Nintendo Wii, the current undisputed king of the casual market. The explosion in popularity of the series has led to a large number of available titles, and our full list will help you keep them all straight.
If you're looking to find the perfect music game, but can't sort through all the games out there, we can help.
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Guitar Hero III
The game that started it all on the Nintendo Wii, Guitar Hero III was a highly-anticipated release. The first title in the series developed by Neversoft, Guitar Hero III is fondly remembered for its difficulty and excellent soundtrack.
It, along with Guitar Hero Aerosmith, was one of the last titles in the series to feature guitar-only play, absent the full band setup of the game's subsequent sequels.
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Guitar Hero: Aerosmith
Many criticized the game for its curious song choices. Many of the band's most famous hits were strangely absent, instead replaced with lesser-known tracks that featured more desirable guitar parts.
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Guitar Hero: World Tour
Following the release of the original Rock Band, it became obvious that gamers would no longer be interested in music games that didn't equal the full band concept that the game introduced. World Tour was Neversoft's first attempt to answer the challenge that Harmonix laid down. World Tour features an extensive soundtrack, the ability to customize your on-screen avatar, and full support for guitar, bass, drums, and vocals.
World Tour also introduced the five-piece drum set, adding a set of elevated symbols to differentiate itself from Rock Band's four drum setup.
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Guitar Hero: Metallica
The second band-specific entry in the Guitar Hero series took on a much more heavy metal focus than previous entries in the series. Guitar Hero: Metallica also introduced the double bass pedal concept to music games for the first time.
The game was generally well-received, with many critics stating that the design team's love for Metallica shined through in the finished product.
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Guitar Hero: Smash Hits
Guitar Hero: Smash Hits features songs from previous Guitar Hero games redone with the full band treatment. Many of the titles were originally featured in the first two Guitar Hero titles, and as such were previously unavailable on the Wii.
The song selection is something of a "greatest hits" collection, and features many of the most popular songs from the series.
Check out page two for more on the latest entries in the Guitar Hero series on the Nintendo Wii.
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Guitar Hero 5
Guitar Hero 5 added a plethora of new features to the Guitar Hero games. Songs now feature instrument-specific challenges such as achieving a certain amount of Star Power or for using the whammy bar for a certain amount of time in a given song. These challenges unlock exclusive avatar customization rewards and additional songs.
The song list in Guitar Hero 5 is truly massive, featuring 85 songs by 83 separate artists. The game recently generated a bit of controversy, as Courtney Love objected to the use of her husband Kurt Cobain's likeness, despite the fact that she signed a contract authorizing Neversoft to do so in the game.
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The game features a much more pop-centric soundtrack, featuring artists like Taylor Swift and Maroon 5. Basically, Band Hero is to Guitar Hero what many feel the Nintendo Wii is to the Xbox 360.
Band Hero supports full band play, and features playable avatars of Swift, Adam Levine from Maroon 5, and the band No Doubt.
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Guitar Hero: Van Halen
Guitar Hero: Van Halen doesn't officially release until late December of this year, but many guitar gamers have gotten their hands on it a bit early, thanks to the Guitar Hero 5 promotion. The song selection in Van Halen is a bit sparse, with only 44 total songs, 25 of which are by Van Halen. Gameplay-wise, Van Halen is pretty similar to Guitar Hero 5, though without the instrument-specific challenges.
The game has received a fair bit of criticism about its song selection. The soundtrack does not feature any songs from the band's Sammy Hagar era, instantly excluding many of Van Halen's most memorable hits. The in-game band also features Eddie's son Wolfgang on bass, which is a bit jarring considering he wasn't even born when most of the game's songs were released.
The Guitar Hero series didn't make its debut on the Nintendo Wii, but it has already established a viable legacy on the system. There's truly a game in the series for every music gamer, and I hope our list has helped you narrow down your choices.
If you're interested in the Guitar Hero series' main competitor, be sure to check out our guide to the Rock Band series on the Nintendo Wii, as well.