This is where things start to go out of tune. Power Gig’s publisher has gone to great lengths to point out, over and over, that the SixString guitar controller is not just a controller, but a real guitar. It has strings, it has a pickup, if you plug it into an amp it makes noise, you could even play it in a club once you’ve learned how – it’s a real guitar.
Let’s say you won a raffle for a “new car”, but then someone handed you the keys to an electric golf cart. It’s technically a car, yes. But nobody anywhere would drive one. Let’s say your buddy invited you to watch the Packers play the Cowboys, but when you arrived you learned it was actually peewee league football teams recycling NFL team names. Technically, it’s Packers and Cowboys, yeah – but they’re just pretending to be the big boys. That’s what we’re looking at here.
This isn’t a real guitar. Real guitars are full-scale – this one is smaller and shorter. Real guitars are made of wood – this one is plastic. Real guitars can be tuned – I spent 30 minutes on two separate occasions trying to tune this thing (with an electronic tuner, not just my ears), and I literally couldn’t. If it sounded in tune when I softly plucked the strings, a harder-strummed chord went completely sharp. If I tuned it for firmer picking, anything softly played came out flat.
So, yes – technically, this has all the pieces that make up a real guitar, but it’s not one. I’ve been playing (not skillfully, but playing) for 20 years and I’ve met dozens, even hundreds of musicians during that time. I can’t imagine even one of them considering this a legitimate instrument, let alone playing it for real in public.
And lest I be accused of expecting too much, the SixString fails as a controller, too. Not only is the atonal stronking that comes from the strings when you play much, much louder than a typical plastic guitar controller, but I found I had to strum it harder than I’d ever strum a normal guitar just to get the contact to register. Even then, it didn’t work reliably.
As a test, I played a single song using a Guitar Hero controller, achieving 98% of the notes on medium and then 93% on a slightly harder difficulty. Then I played the same song using the Power Gig controller on the same difficulty settings and got only 92% and 79% of the notes respectively, despite the fact that I knew the song and patterns better than before. And this was without having any of the Power Gig controller’s complex chords turned on, so the difference can’t be blamed on tougher parts. It simply doesn’t work as well.
Moreover, although the guitar controller enables the player to create real world chords and play them, the game itself only teaches you a single chord – the “power” chord, and throws it at you once in awhile. The rest of the game is less complex than Twister – if you can cover the right colors with any finger on any string, it’s satisfied. No other chords – and there are hundreds, in case you weren’t aware – are even required, let alone taught. It’s a baffling cop-out for a game that’s billing itself as realistic. Yes, power chords are common – but they’re not that common.
As a final insult, the SixString does not – I repeat, not – work with Rock Band 3’s Pro Guitar mode, which teaches the player the actual guitar parts being played. That pretty much puts the exclamation on my point that this isn’t a real guitar.
Guitar score: 3