It’s a sad fact of life that that new thing in your life: the thing you saved months to buy, or the thing you begged your significant other to get you for Christmas, the thing you knew would be the last thing you’d ever need to buy because it would make your life so complete you could never want for anything more, your relationship with that thing will always reach the end of the honeymoon period at some point.
The shine starts to fade, the “new thing” smell fades as it becomes covered with your own scent, and it settles into its permanent place in the tapestry of your life. With childrens’ Christmas presents this can be anytime between New Year’s Eve and late February.
It’s not always about getting bored playing with that thing you thought you’d never tire of. Sometimes, where skill is required such as learning a musical instrument, your waning love for it is linked to your reaching a plateau of accomplishment. You’ve practised and practised, you made great strides early on, but now it’s getting harder to move forward. You want to be an expert but it seems that the thing has just found the limit of your ability and things are never going to get any better.
I am now at that point with Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock.
Easy mode was a breeze. Using only the top three buttons on the fretboard I sailed through my Rock Career acing songs, getting good reviews. doing video shoots, and all the time earning money as my band got bigger and bigger. I paid for all the damaged hotel rooms and trashed cars and spent the remainder in the store on new guitars and outfits. I even won my battle with the legendary Slash and the not so legendary Tom Morello (of Rage Against The Machine).
Bring on Medium mode. This introduces the fourth, blue button, so I had to beat all the same songs again but this time using all four fingering fingers and with a more complicated part to play. A bit more challenging but still do-able, and by this time Elliot & Abigail were home giving me some competition, so the added pressure caused me to step up my game. I completed the game on Medium about ten days ago.
Enter Hard mode. Now all five fret buttons are brought into play, which is a bit of a problem when you’ve only got four fingers. Up until now my default position has been index finger on green, middle on red, fourth on yellow and little finger (Pinkie in American) on blue.
How to handle orange?
Well you could say just keep the standard hold and stretch your Pinkie to hit orange. Well that won’t work because by now we’re into pretty fast runs of notes, multiple blue-orange-blue-orange twiddles, and even chords requiring blue and orange to be played together. So there’s nothing else for it but to learn Position 2, which is basically moving your whole hand up one, giving you plenty or orange cover but leaving you exposed in the green department. It’s not hard to slide up and down between positions 1 and 2, so green and orange aren’t that much of a problem. The real problem lies in the fingering for red, yellow and blue in the middle. A red/yellow chord requires fingers two and three when in position 1, but fingers one and two when in position two, so you have to keep consciously asking yourself, “which position am I in now?”, and when you get it wrong — as I often do — you lose the song because you’re hitting the wrong buttons.
I’ve got up to about 1/3 way through Hard mode and am at the battle with Tom Morello, and I don’t think I’m ever going to get any further. I’m tempted to give up but I enjoy playing it so much that I can’t bear the thought of not going on. True, I can play any song at any difficulty level in Quick Play, and true, I can Wuss Out on the battle with Tom after three failed attempts, but I’m not the Wussing Out kind.
At the moment Expert mode is a dark, crouching beast over in the corner. I can pretend it doesn’t exist for a while but sooner or later I have to face it.
I’ll persevere a bit longer. Maybe some whisky might help.