GuitarFreaks (ギターフリークス) is a music video game series produced by Konami. It is a rhythm game where the player uses a controller to simulate the playing of an electric guitar. The game consists of music predominantly from the rock music, rock and roll and J-pop genres. It is considered one of the most influential video games of all time, for having laid the foundations for popular guitar-based rhythm games, such as the Guitar Hero series. Working Designs attempted to bring Guitar Freaks PlayStation 2 games in the U.S., but patent problems with the guitar controller prevented the project from moving forward.
The game is now in its nineteenth version, GuitarFreaks V8, which was released in March 28, 2011. It was speculated to be the final release of GuitarFreaks V. A spin-off series, GuitarFreaks XG was released in Japanese arcades on March 10, 2010, which added two more buttons to the fret bar. A sequel, GuitarFreaks XG2, was released on March 9, 2011. Another sequel, GuitarFreaks XG3, was released on Feb. 23, 2012.
GuitarFreaks is played using a controller designed to imitate the shape of an electric guitar, most like the Fender Jazzmaster or Fender Mustang. The neck houses three buttons, colored red, green, and blue. On the main face of the guitar, a pick lever is used to simulate the picking and strumming of an actual guitar. A small metal knob near the pick is used to alter the sound produced by the game, such as adding Chorus/Delay effects.
The interface is similar to other games in the Bemani series. Two note scrolls—one for each player—are displayed at the left and right sides of the screen. Colorful animations for each song are displayed in the center of the screen. Each note scroll consists of four columns: one each for the red, green, and blue buttons, and a fourth column, known as the Wailing Bonus column. Individual notes and chords are represented by small colored bars that scroll upward in the columns. To play the correct note, the player must hold down the buttons corresponding to the colored bars, and move the fret lever when the bars reach the yellow fretting line. When a guitar icon is displayed in the Wailing Bonus column along with an associated note, the player can tilt the guitar upright while playing the note to receive bonus points.
The player's accuracy is judged for each note played. The current system uses the names Perfect, Great, Good, Poor, and Miss to indicate a player's accuracy. Ratings of Poor or Miss will deplete the player's Groove Gauge, while Perfect and Great ratings will replenish it. If the Groove Gauge is emptied completely, the player fails, and the game ends. Players are allowed to play anywhere from one to five songs depending on the game cabinet's configuration, with the ability to earn additional songs in certain versions of the game
Upon successful completion of a song, players are graded on their performance. When the game ends, the player's total score across all songs played is tabulated.
One of the major selling points of GuitarFreaks is its ability to be linked to another of Konami's Bemani games, DrumMania. This allows up to three players to join together to play simultaneously in Session Mode. During a session, the music will play simultaneously from both games, and the players' guitar and drum sounds are relayed between the two games.
Because the second version of GuitarFreaks was released prior to the first version of DrumMania, GuitarFreaks is one "mix" number higher than the DrumMania version it links up to. For example, GUITARFREAKS 6thMIX is designed to be linked with DrumMania 5thMIX. The mix versions were synchronized with the release of GuitarFreaksV & DrumManiaV eschewing the long-standing number system, and replacing what would have been the 12th and 11th mix, respectively.
Seen only in two releases each of GuitarFreaks and DrumMania, Super Session allowed the games to be linked up with Keyboardmania 3rd Mix as well. In addition to having three players control the guitars and drums, two more could be added playing along on keyboards. However, when linked with Keyboardmania, only about a dozen songs are available to play. Keyboardmania 3rd Mix can be linked with GuitarFreaks 5th Mix and DrumMania 4th Mix, or GuitarFreaks 6th Mix and DrumMania 5th Mix.
As with DrumMania, the current version of GuitarFreaks features 500 songs in total. Most songs are either crossovers from other Bemani games, and J-pop and J-Rock. Some mixes also contain covers of popular North American songs.
GUITARFREAKS 2nd Mix
For PlayStation 2GUITARFREAKS 3rd MIX & drummania 2nd MIX (Released on 7 December 2000)
ギタドラ! GUITARFREAKS 4th MIX & drummania 3rd MIX (Released on 20 September 2001)
GuitarFreaks V & DrumMania V (Released on 16 March 2006)
GuitarFreaks & DrumMania Masterpiece Silver (Released on 31 August 2006)
GuitarFreaks V2 & DrumMania V2 (Released on 22 November 2006)
GuitarFreaks & DrumMania Masterpiece Gold (Released on 8 March 2007)
GuitarFreaks V3 & DrumMania V3 (Released on 4 October 2007)