What Guitar Freaks Could Have Been Like In North America

By Spencer . June 5, 2009 . 6:00pm

image Before Guitar Hero was a hit and Rock Band was a billion dollar franchise Working Designs attempted to bring Konami’s Bemani music game Guitar Freaks overseas.


“We were trying to bring Guitar Freaks over at the same time, “Vic Ireland, President of Gaijinworks, told me in an interview. Patent problems with Harmonix’s guitar controller prevented Working Designs from moving forward with the project.


The Guitar Freaks Ireland envisioned would have custom PlayStation 2 guitars. Each rock star replica would unlock tracks from that musician. A Billy Idol guitar, for example, would unlock Billy Idol songs. “They concentrated on the bands not the guitarist,” Ireland explained.


Plans to localize Guitar Freaks with rock and roll were canned a long time ago. What if Working Designs launched the game as an early competitor to Guitar Hero? Do you think it could have been a hit?

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  • maxchain

    Honestly, it’s hard to say with just concepts to go off of–as we’ve seen, it’s all in the execution (see: Rock Revolution).

    • fallen

      Agreed. Also, this would have been quite a localization job even for Working Designs, who were known for going above and beyond in such things (and I’m not just talking about the humorous translations and super deluxe editions).

      • JeremyR

        allegedly humorous.

  • JeremyR

    Well, it would have been an appropriate game for their Eddie Vedder jokes, anyway.

    But even if by some miracle they got it out in the same time frame, they likely wouldn’t have had the marketing muscle to get stores to carry demo units. How many people bought the game after seeing some person play it in store? When ti first came out, you’d see crowds around the demo players. Just crazy.

    I also really doubt people would want to pay $50 for a guitar just to unlock certain artists on the disc.

  • Billy Idol’s guitar player was Steve Stevens.
    So a Steve Stevens guitar “would unlock Billy Idol songs”.
    Sounds like Mr.Ireland is the one focusing on bands not guitarists.

  • Tye The Czar

    If they did this back when DDR was dominating, then yes. Thanks a LOT Konami for being a wiener and holding back before it was too late!

  • Kashi

    If Guitar Freaks could distinguish themselves enough with exclusive songs and matched up the marketing Guitar Hero had, then yes, it might’ve stood a chance. The songs list really made the differece for a lot of people and I don’t think gimmicky guitars would’ve pushed more sales.

    Rock Revolution unfortunately had an unimpressive song list of covers and lackluster designs. It was a pretty game, but when you’re going up against a competitor who pretty much has a monopoly now on the north american music game market, you have to offer something more unique. What’s the point of a music game if there’s no unique songs or your competitor has better versions of it?

    If Konami ported Guitar Freaks with all of its Japanese/poppy/strange songs, it might do better since it’ll be targeting a different demographic. I enjoyed Guitar Freaks because I liked playing JPOP/JRock songs and I like playing Rock Band/GH because of certain metal/rock songs.

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