Guitar Hero defined the rhythm game genre since its first release in the mid-2000s. The game itself was fun, entertaining, and even competitive. Being able to play the guitar track along with many famous songs made this game an instant hit. The game’s controller was uniquely shaped into a guitar, immediately capturing everyone’s interest and making you feel like a rock star.

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Depending on how well you played the song, you were given a score at the end. That is if you managed to not get booed off the stage for messing up too many times, of course, giving the game its classic arcade feel. There were many main installments, and expansions to the Guitar Hero game series but not all of them were smash hits.



10 Guitar Hero: Smash Hits

Guitar Hero Smash Hits full band gameplay

Guitar Hero: Smash Hits brought together the best songs from the first five games in the series. All of these beloved songs would be played in some of the world’s most famous venues and Wonders.

What also helped make this game so much fun was the inclusion of adding a full band, such as singing and drums. This wasn’t the first Guitar Hero game to introduce the full band lineup, but being able to play the greatest hits of the series so far made it even more fun.

9 Guitar Hero: Aerosmith

Guitar Hero Aerosmith - 3 members of Aerosmith playing in game

Aerosmith was one of the biggest bands in the 70s and has been turning out hits to the present day. While this is one of three band-titled games, it is the second-best received, beating Guitar Hero: Van Halen.

There are 29 different Aerosmith songs to play from, and the game follows the band’s rough chronological rise to success with its songs. There are an additional 12 songs from bands that either inspired Aerosmith or played with them. While this was a well-received game, many fans believed that GH not including some of the band’s bigger hits added to the lackluster reception of the game.

8 Guitar Hero: Live

Guitar Hero Live gameplay screenshot of a live video and crowd

Guitar Hero: Live is the seventh installment in the main game series and was supposed to be a reboot for the franchise. It did well, but it wasn’t the reboot the fans or Activision hoped for. Despite that, it is still a solid game with a few new things.

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The game brought out a new guitar controller with a sixth button and two modes. Many modern bands were featured in the game, and the second game mode, known as GHTV, allowed fans to play songs to music or live video from that artist. Unfortunately, since the game’s release in 2015, no other Guitar Hero games continued in the reboot.

7 Guitar Hero: Warriors Of Rock

Guitar Hero Warriors of Rock gameplay screenshot of character and 4 players

The sixth installment in the main game series is Guitar Hero: Warriors of Rock. This game brought a whole new story mode specifically for this game, where you recruit eight characters to defeat the antagonist, “The Beast.”

This game tried to stand apart from other Guitar Hero installments by adding a variety of artists which totaled 93 songs for the game. Also at the time, Rock Band was another similar rhythm game that was a big competitor for the series.

Guitar Hero Metallica screenshot of gameplay and James Hetfield in the background

One of the three installments in the GH series that followed a band’s career was Guitar Hero: Metallica. This wasn’t just another GH game but one that both fans and critics loved and agreed it’s one of the best in the series.

There are many hit songs from both Metallica and other featured bands which really showcased their career to that point. Twenty-eight of Metallica’s songs were featured, and fans could play all instruments on the game. Motion capture of the band added into the game also helped the experience of playing as Metallica as well.

5 Guitar Hero: World Tour

Guitar Hero World Tour screenshot of character playing guitar

Guitar Hero: World Tour, also known as Guitar Hero 4, is the fourth installment in the main game series. It is also the first game to introduce vocals and percussion, offering a microphone, drum kit, and guitar controller.

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The addition of the new instruments helped add to the game and tried to compete with Rock Band. New modes, such as Band Career Mode, a music studio, and extensive character customization, were included. The game also featured an 86-song soundtrack, and most of the songs were ones that were wanted but not included in Guitar Hero 3.

4 Guitar Hero 3: Legends Of Rock

Guitar Hero 3 Legends of Rock one of the main characters playing guitar

Guitar Hero 3 is one of the top games in the series due to its soundtrack and gameplay, which the previous two installments are known for. The game offered the ability to play lead or rhythm guitar and bass on the songs.

In addition to having a great set list, the game also gave fans a guitar battle from both Slash of Guns N Roses and Tom Morello from Rage Against the Machine, which could also be playable characters. The game also had bundles for its release, which introduced a new controller modeled after a black Les Paul guitar. GH3 also included one of the hardest songs to play in the series: Through the Fire and Flames by Dragonforce

3 Guitar Hero 5

Guitar Hero 5 Kurt Cobain playing along to a Nirvana song

Guitar Hero 5 is arguably one of the best in the series for a variety of reasons. Not only did it have full band support playing as both rhythm and lead guitars, but singing and drums as well. It gave new features which allowed members to drop in and out of songs as well as play songs with any combination of instruments.

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GH5 introduced new features for both solo-player and multiplayer experiences, including Face Offs, Band Lobby, and character customization. New motion-captured models brought legends like Johnny Cash, Carlos Santana, and Kurt Cobain to the game. The game’s soundtrack included 85 songs by 83 artists featuring both classic and modern songs.

2 Guitar Hero

Guitar Hero band members singing and playing guitar with gameplay

The game that kick-started one of the biggest and most influential games of the 2000s is the original and first Guitar Hero game. Released in 2005, this game allowed fans to be a rock stars at home which its guitar-shaped controller modeled and resembling a miniature Gibson SG.

Like other rhythm games of the time and ones that came before it, Guitar Hero used a controller to hit scrolling notes to a song. The Career Mode of the game followed a fictional band playing in different locations. Once you complete a song, you unlock it to be played anytime in Quick Play mode. The 47-song soundtrack includes hits like Iron Man by Black Sabbath, Fat Lip by Sum 41, and Take Me Out by Franz Ferdinand.

1 Guitar Hero 2

Guitar Hero 2 character playing Zakk Wylde inspired guitar

Guitar Hero 2 is regarded as the best in the series, beating the original game by a sliver. Coming off the success of the first title, this game brought in bigger names and songs along with two new controllers the cherry red Gibson SG for the PS2 and a white Gibson X-Plorer for the Xbox 360.

The game brought back its Career Mode along with eight different characters that represented a different genre of rock. The game also introduced Practice Mode, which helped players learn the songs at full speed or slowed-down versions. Songs for GH2 included Sweet Child O Mine by Guns N Roses, War Pigs by Black Sabbath, and Free Bird by Lynyrd Skynyrd, to name a few.

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