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Iyouboushi On November - 16 - 2009

Like rhythm games that are played using plastic instruments? Then you might like this. This is Frets on Fire, a free, open-source rhythm game where you can play pretty much any song ever made (if you can find it/make it). Did I mention it’s FREE? It’s basically a Rock Band/Guitar Hero clone. But how does it REALLY hold up to the masters of plastic instrument rhythm games?

The Story
Here’s our first downfall. There is no story. Granted, there wasn’t much of one in Guitar Hero either. Just use your imagination. No one really cares about the story in these games anyway.

The base game is pretty bland but it gets the job done. What I REALLY like about this game is that you can download mods that make the game look a WHOLE lot better. There’s one mod in particular, MFH Mod, that turns the game into a clone of pretty much every other rhythm game out there. Want Frets on Fire to look like Guitar Hero 3? No problem. How about Rock Band? Easy. There’s even a few original ones (I think?) including one that makes it all look 8-bit.

Once you apply that mod the graphics look just as good as any of the other games.

Gameplay & The Game
Everyone should know how this game plays by now. You have to hold down buttons and press another button to strum and make everything line up. As expected, there’s varying degrees of difficulty.

So what modes are there? Well, you have the song playing mode and a tutorial. The tutorial has a guy who will ridicule you and say that you SUCK in a funny German accent and try to teach you, extremely briefly, how to play the game. The other is, quite obviously, how you play the songs you have.

I should point out that once you apply the mod you can control a lot more of how the game behaves. Don’t like HOPOs? Turn them off. Don’t want star power (called jargan power or something like that) you can turn it off. Want the game to behave closer to rock band? You can set that. And so on. The base game doesn’t really have a lot of control in those areas though.

You can also change the controls so you don’t have use the default function keys. The mod has controls for drums and bass as well (make sure your keys don’t conflict or they won’t work at all) but I don’t know if you can actually play those aspects yet. The mod also has a mode for multiplayer but I don’t know if it’s over the net yet (I doubt it, but give it time).

With the right equipment you can even get your plastic guitars to work with it (yes, even the Wiimote). It’s a bit beyond the scope of this opening post to talk about that though.

The Music
Endless. Because of the way this game works you and millions of other people can convert basically any song ever made into a format that this game can read. That means you’re not limited to the 20~30 songs that the company gives you per game; you’re only limited by how many songs people have converted over. This means, as one would expect, there are THOUSANDS of songs to choose from. I mean, seriously. You can probably fill your entire hard drive up with music for this game.

The bad thing about it is you have to download individual songs (or packs, if you can find them) and make sure they end up in the right folder for it to work. But once you get the hang of it, it’s pretty easy to do.

The Good
+ With the mod this game looks and behaves just like the other instrument games.
+ Unlimited songs (well, almost)
+ The mod gives you the ability to change the fret board background, the menus, how the game behaves, etc. It’s seriously the best thing for this game ever made.

The Bad
+ No animated backgrounds during the songs.
+ No customizable avatars (I can’t be the evil robot Sad)
+ Some songs don’t have all the difficulties. This can be really annoying when you find a song you want to play but the only difficulty is expert.
+ Difficulties are not equal. For example, one song’s “medium” might be equal to another song’s “expert.” Because the charts are made by individual people, and not companies, the concept of each difficulty is open to interpretation and will vary. Dramatically.
+ The note placement doesn’t really sync with how the actual song would be played in most cases. I know GH3 (and probably RB/others) tried to make it so the notes were at least somewhat simulating how you’d really play the songs. Since this is created by random people it probably doesn’t represent the actual song’s chords and what-not.

Final Thoughts
Since I’m too broke to buy a new version of Guitar Hero (I own 3 for Wii and that’s it, lol) and I’ve been itching to play new music this game is a godsend. I am seriously liking this game a lot. Since it’s free I’d recommend it to anyone who likes rhythm games.

So if you want to download the game and have some fun, here’s some links for you.

Frets on Fire MFH Mod v3.000 Full (around 300mb) Download this if you want the ability to change your theme and make the game look nice.
Frets on Fire Base Game Download this if you just want the base game. Note if you download the mod you don’t have to download this.
2828 Frets on Fire Songs Need some songs to play? Chances are this site will have it. If not.. Try here and see if it has it.

If that doesn’t have all the music you need, you can always make your own tracks. Download Audacity (free) and convert your mp3 into .ogg format. From there you can use FoF to add in the notes on the fret. Smile

Right now these images are of the Guitar Hero 3 theme for Frets on Fire. I’ll try to take some pictures of different themes later. Right now I’m just playing with what I’m used to. Smile

Title Screen
Example set list (in my Dethklok folder)
Starting the Song (a few options are turned off here, like the countdown for the song’s length and the accuracy notes on the right)
Example of the notes in action
Star Power
Results Screen

Need help figuring out how to install the songs? This image will help you see what has to be done

Categories: Game Reviews, Reviews

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