‘Guitar Hero Arcade’ Is Based On ‘GH III,’ Developer Explains Konami’s Surprising Involvement

“Guitar Hero Arcade” is coming early next year, courtesy of Activision, arcade developer Raw Thrills (see: “Big Buck Hunter”) and…Konami?!

That’s right. Former music game heavyweight and genre pioneer Konami is working with its former rivals to bring “Guitar Hero” to a brand-new scene.

Soon, you won’t even have to leave the bar to play a few chords from your favorite Nirvana song.

To learn more about what to expect from “Guitar Hero Arcade,” we hopped on the phone with Raw Thrills VP Andrew Eloff, who explained the project’s history, what Konami’s involvement is and what “Guitar Hero” fans will find when they pop in a quarter.

[Photo Credit: bemanistyle]

“It’s kind of one of the weirder things in the world, right?” said Eloff. “It’s Konami and Activision and Raw Thrills all working together. Konami has all this experience with doing coin-op games and Activision has the number one domestic music game. So, I think it’s kind of a match made in heaven. It makes a lot a lot of sense.”

Where does Konami factor into all of this? Activision and Konami, despite having competing music games with “Guitar Hero” and “Rock Revolution,” have already done business together over patents to ensure there’s no legal trouble for the “Guitar Hero” series. With no experience in the arcade market, Activision asked Konami for help finding a developer.

“Konami approached us with the deal. It shocked the hell out of me”

“Basically, Konami approached us with the deal,” said Eloff. “It shocked the hell out of me. [laughs] I was thrilled. The thing with ’Guitar Hero’ that’s so frightening is there’s so much licensing [music, patents] associated with it. We’re not set up to do all that. When Konami came to us, asking us if we wanted to develop ’Guitar Hero,’ we felt like this was a perfect symbiotic relationship.”

“Guitar Hero Arcade” is based upon “Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock.” Development on the arcade version began when “World Tour” was still being built, and Raw Thrills didn’t want to interrupt the development process of Activision’s new band game.

“[World Tour] was still in development as we were starting this game,” said Eloff. “There’s no sense in trying to stand in front of the production streamroller. So, I think 3 was kind of natural that way.”

“Would Tour” still had an influence on “Guitar Hero Arcade.” The guitar peripheral that Raw Thrills developed for the game, created in conjunction with both Konami and “Guitar Hero” collaborator Red Octane, is based on the design of “World Tour”’s guitar but does not feature the slide mechanic. Eloff described it as a “hybrid” of the “Guitar Hero III” and “World Tour” guitars.

Some features have been streamlined, however, like character customization. Raw Thrills doesn’t want people obsessing over the hair color of their on-screen rock star. But one important feature that has remained is downloadable content. Raw Thrills has the ability to push new songs to “Guitar Hero Arcade” through the Internet. Owners of the machines can pick and choose which of the new songs to add to the cabinet.

Raw Thrills is undeniably excited about the prospects of “Guitar Hero Arcade.” You can hear the giddiness in Eloff’s voice as he talks about the project. It’s also looking to be one of their most profitable game releases yet.

“We have more pre-orders on this game than ever, than we’ve ever seen — ever,” he said. “It’s amazing. It’s doing very, very, very well.”

Eloff said “Guitar Hero Arcade” will have a pre-production run by the end of the year, when roughly 25 machines will be made. Full production begins in January, with machines sprouting up at arcades, movie theaters and other locations “probably in the first couple weeks in February.” They’re hoping to have a website online that will help people find the nearest machine.

What do you think about the prospects of “Guitar Hero Arcade,” readers?

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