Guitar heroes click their way to video-game prestige

Fingers flew as rivalries flared last Wednesday night at the office of Residential Education and Housing’s (ResEd) “Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock” tournament.

The trash-talking started long before the match, with the top two players of the night bantering on the event’s Facebook page. The tournament was a chance for Ryan Yorke, freshman English and communication studies major, and Darren Farinas, sophomore business major, to settle their friendly rivalry before a crowd.

The Community Advisors (CAs) who organized the tournament decided to host the event because many of their residents are avid “Guitar Hero” players. The prize would only be “pride and bragging rights,” according to CA Rosalie Crespo, junior English major. But for some gamers, pride was all they needed.

Matches were decided by the best out of three songs, with each player picking a song and a coin toss for the third, if necessary. “It’s a game of song selection,” Yorke said. “It’s knowing your opponent, and then picking a song that you’re good at and you think your opponent won’t be good at.”

The first time a match went to the third song, there was a tension-filled silence for the coin toss. The matches were intense and often were not decided until the final seconds of the songs. In one of Yorke’s early matches he trailed for most of the song, but in the last minute he triggered “Star Power,” the special mode players are rewarded with for hitting notes. The audience roared as he passed his opponent’s score in the final seconds for a dramatic upset.

“That was epic,” Chris Hallberg, freshman interactive multimedia major and another of Crespo’s guitar-rocking residents, said.

“They both have equal skill, Ryan is just being smarter,” Hallberg said. “He’s using his ‘Star Power’ for better parts of the song.”

Yorke would need his skill and smarts for the final match as Farinas dispatched his opponents with ease. Farinas didn’t even glance at the screen as he chose the first song – he chose instead to stare down Yorke.

They were neck-and-neck throughout most of the first song. With each use of ‘Star Power,’ a player would leap ahead, but the opponent always had a ‘Star Power’ to counter. The first song went to Yorke by a hair.

DragonForce’s “Through the Fire and Flames,” considered one of the hardest songs in the entire “Guitar Hero” franchise, kicked in with a vengeance. The players’ fingers were blurs as they tried to keep up with the difficult button combinations. It was clear why Yorke had picked this as the second song – it was kicking both their asses, but was kicking Farinas’ harder.

Yorke relaxed as he pulled ahead, tapping his feet and dancing during silent stretches. When he triggered “Star Power,” he actually performed, leaning back and finger-walking on his controller to impress the audience. By the end of the seven-minute onslaught, Yorke had proven victorious.

“(Farinas is) actually on an equal footing with me,” Yorke said after the match, “but it feels good to come out in front of all these people and win.”

Their rivalry is far from over, but round one went to Yorke.