Before Guitar Hero, Gamers Rocked Out to Gitaroo Man

Maria J. Danford

At any time preferred to be a rock star? The form that brims with superhero energy, that can dominate the stage and hypnotize the masses? In the early 2000s, it seemed like every video clip gamer preferred component of the fantasy: getting in a band touring the planet, enjoying bought out crowds, and getting fawned about by followers.

Maybe they’d also know every one notice and have every lyric memorized. For mass audiences in the US, that was the driving pressure driving lengthy-managing mega-hit collection Guitar Hero and Rock Band. But this week marks the 20th anniversary of a turbo-billed, insanely wacky cult traditional that predated it all. That recreation was 2001’s Gitaroo Gentleman, created by Japanese recreation studio Koei. 

Gitaroo Gentleman contained significantly of the stylistic, about-the-top rated layout sensibility of other rhythm video games of the late nineteen nineties and early 2000s, together with the quirky PlayStation traditional Parappa the Rapper, Konami’s arcade feeling Dance Dance Revolution, and even Place Channel 5, a Sega Dreamcast exclusive about preventing aliens by distracting them with dance. Gitaroo Gentleman opted for a unique instrument: the guitar. And it was not just about shredding. Guitar Hero’s produced you really feel like a musician, but Gitaroo Gentleman captured the moi and energy of getting the guitar hero.


The recreation is pure Japanese gaming bliss. Gitaroo Gentleman was introduced in Japan on June 21, 2001, and the pursuing February in the US on Sony’s PlayStation 2 console. It received important acclaim from hardcore gaming publications like Edge and Subsequent Era, who praised its energy, soundtrack, and exceptional artwork route. It obtained cult status almost straight away, thanks in component to its raucous cover artwork. But in a year crammed with triple-A heavyweights like Steel Equipment Sound 2, Remaining Fantasy X, and Silent Hill 2, Gitaroo Gentleman slipped underneath the radar. Two many years later on though, it stands out as emblematic of the whimsical, frenetic, rhythm-pushed video games of the time time period. 


At the coronary heart of Gitaroo Gentleman is a young boy named U-one, an all-close to loser archetype who will get bullied by his classmates. Both equally a coming-of-age and revenge story, when Gitaroo Gentleman commences U-one doesn’t have a whole large amount of potential customers. Soon adequate, though, a chatting doggy named Puma provides to instruct him to perform guitar. It doesn’t take lengthy for Puma to expose his real agenda: He is the “last legendary hero of Earth Gitaroo,” possessing the Previous Gitaroo, a potent, magic-infused legendary axe. 

If that was not odd adequate, a wave of enemies straight away attacks Puma and U-one, who uses the Gitaroo to fight again. Right after the struggle, Puma convinces U-one to sign up for him into preventing the Gravillian Empire, which has taken about Earth Gitaroo. The recreation requires you from withdrawn young boy to budding interplanetary hero in training—complete with obtaining a legendary guitar—in record time. Whilst attempting to help save Earth Gitaroo, U-one learns to perform his instrument to “win over” everybody, proving that he is not only awesome but also a legendary hero of galactic proportions.

The gameplay of Gitaroo Gentleman is comparable to other rhythm video games of the era: vibrant graphics with a thread of prompts rolling throughout the display screen. You assault and defend by timing each button push and swarm of combos to that on-display screen scroll. A unique J-pop guitar-infused track serves as the narrative for each stage, as U-one fights his way through the forces of the Gravillian Empire. A typical struggle has a few phases—charge, assault, and guard—mimicking a traditional manager fight. The setting of each stage evolves and reacts to equally the music and the overall performance, making a palpable perception of energy, a cascading wave of buzz, right up to the level’s denouement. Did we mention that this recreation is nuts?


The recreation by no means seriously experienced a possibility. It bought poorly in the US but fared a little bit better in its indigenous Japan, adequate to even garner a sequel that by no means produced it stateside. Sony did re-release the recreation on its very first handheld console, the PlayStation Transportable, also to depressing revenue. 

And nonetheless, real to its cult traditional status, the recreation became a touchstone for hardcore avid gamers and a rarity in retro-gaming collecting circles. Whilst it really is not not possible to uncover now, it really is not uncomplicated either except if you know exactly where to seem. 


These days, rhythm video games are in a downswing. The occasional curiosity like Fuser keeps the genre on daily life assist. Nonetheless, the simulation part of new music-related video games has possibly eventually operate its study course. Nonetheless there’s a thing to be claimed about the video games that proceed their modest daily life with no ever achieving mainstream notice. Just about every the moment in a whilst, a Gitaroo Gentleman thread on a video games forum will pop up that extols its uniqueness, or a YouTube video clip that excitedly dissects the game’s new music and story line. On Spotify you can uncover playlists that contains Gitaroo Gentleman struggle tracks established by like-minded followers. It’s all proof that twenty decades later on, the recreation stays unforgotten, and however holds up.

Perhaps it has to do with the transportive escapism that distinguish fantastic video games. So what if you are not seriously enjoying the notes on the guitar or jamming out with a band? In Gitaroo Gentleman, you are the rock star, a hero pretty much saving the planet.

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