Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Rock off!

Remember when you were a kid and a well-intentioned but less-than-pop-culturally-savvy adult, usually a grandparent, would give you a present, thinking it was something you really, really wanted but because of tricky marketing they actually got it just wrong enough to be the most horrible gift imaginable? Perhaps it was a Big Jim instead of a GI Joe, Brix Blox instead of Legos, electronics from Radio Shack instead of Sony or Trax athletic shoes (the dreaded K-Mart house brand) instead of Converse. You couldn't help but be disappointed but you had to do your best to hide it because you didn't want to hurt grandma and grandpa. Not that you cared that much about their feelings. After all, you were kind of justifiably pissed at them for screwing up and they deserved to know how you felt about it. But you knew mom and dad wouldn't approve of that, especially since they didn't understand why something like brand names should matter to a kid your age because, well, they didn't understand. There could be a variety of reasons, from compatibility issues with the toys you already had to potentially being ridiculed by your peers to the principle of it all but it mattered, damn it. So you tried to look happy about it, but did such a terrible job of it that grandma and grandpa got upset anyway, which ticked off mom and dad and eventually everybody in the whole house was miserable. Merry Christmas and/or Happy Birthday, indeed.

If you're a parent or grandparent now, and you're feeling nostalgic, you might be thrilled (or not) to know that the shoddy knockoff industry that makes everyone sad is still alive and well! As you may know, the most popular video game franchise on the planet right now (with the possible exception of Madden NFL football) is Guitar Hero. If you don't know that, trust me, it is. That's Guitar H-E-R-O. Not...this. Yeah, that would be Guitar Idol, a game that is nothing like Guitar Hero and that the kids on your gift list are absolutely guaranteed to loathe forever and ever:

  • For starters, it's not even a video game.
  • Secondly, it's barely a game at all. It's enhanced air guitar, which is sort of like adding fresh ground pepper to salt water.
  • Thirdly, you can tell from the first chords that those are just cover versions of classic songs.
  • They're really shitty cover versions at that.
  • It only comes with four shitty cover songs? Are you kidding me? Cripes, my off-brand Walkman from the 80's, which I wouldn't be able to sell for $5 at a flea market now, could play 9o minute cassettes. This is like a billiard table that only comes with the cue, 1, 8 and 14 balls.

It's enough to make a kid who doesn't already have a blog start one and you do not want that. With the names so similar, you can certainly see how someone who doesn't pay the closest attention to what's hot in the world of toys and games might be very easily fooled. Plus, the fact that American Idol continues to be so ubiquitously popular adds to the confusion factor. It's a very slippery tactic. It would be like putting out a really terrible movie right now and calling it "The Dark Tropic Night of Thunder".

Then there's the free bonus stuff you get just for ordering today, which makes it that much more appealing for someone who wants to give a kick-ass present but might be on a fixed income...until you look at what you really get. Earbuds and a wrist strap. Total value? I'd say about a dollar. Oh, the wrist strap is adjustable? Okay, in that case it's still a dollar. BUT WAIT THERE'S MORE! Lyric and rhythm sheets for all the (four) songs! Hmm, I think Kinkos charges about .10 a copy, .25 for color so there's another .40 to a dollar.

All of this can be yours for $19.95 plus $8.99 shipping and handling. Guitar Hero, on the other hand, is going to set you back between $40 and $100, depending on what version you buy and what accessories come with it. Granted, that seems like a lot to pay for a game. But $28.94 for getting ripped off is really expensive.

No comments: