Like HowStuffWorks on Facebook!

How Guitar Hero Works

Guitar Hero Tips and Tricks
The star power meter on the left and the rock meter on the right.
The star power meter on the left and the rock meter on the right.

Scoring isn't the only component of Guitar Hero success. The rock meter on the bottom right side of the screen also measures your performance. Depending on your accuracy, the needle points to green, yellow or red. If you see red, you'd better get those fingers on track because your character's in danger of being booed off stage.

To maximize your score, you need star power in addition to good licks. The star power meter on the bottom left of the screen displays your score up top, the number of consecutive notes hit on the bottom and a large single-digit number in the center. That number is your score multiplier that pumps up the value of every note you hit. The blue star-shaped gems build your star power, and once your meter flashes, tilt your controller vertically up to activate it and double your score multiplier. Plus, the controller tilt looks supremely rocktastic.

One aspect of the career mode in "Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock" is the boss battle. To move through the career mode, you must outplay three bosses: Tom Morello from Rage Against the Machine, Slash from Velvet Revolver and Lou the Devil. In multiplayer mode, you can also battle a friend to judge whose skills reign supreme.

Along with the more challenging note tracks, the boss battles also include battle power. In battle mode, whenever you hit the star-shaped notes, they load up your battle power. Once you collect enough, you can tilt your controller up to unleash an offensive move on the other player. Get to know these note-knocking maneuvers to learn what you're dishing out and know how to take it:

  • Broken string -- just what it says. Opponents can't use the string again until they've tapped the corresponding fret button enough times.
  • Difficulty up -- increases the difficulty of the note spread.
  • Amp overload -- makes the opponent's scrolling screen hard to see.
  • Whammy bar -- opponents' guitars cease until they move their whammy bars quickly.
  • Power-up steal -- snatch an opponent's power.
  • Double notes -- make those fingers burn with twice the notes to play.
  • Lefty/righty flip -- switch your opponent's fret setup to the opposite hand.
  • Death drain -- as bad as it sounds. If you're in sudden death mode, this will drain the opponent's rock meter. [source: Activision]

As you move through the career and co-op modes, you also unlock hidden items. These include bonus tracks, additional characters and new guitars and basses. Gamers have also posted Guitar Hero cheats online for all versions and platforms that allow you to quickly find items buried in the software.

While scoring is important, you should also know how your axe works. Next up, we'll take a closer look at the mechanics of the game and your Gibson guitar-shaped controller.