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Play OverviewPlay Overview

Guitar Hero (2005) is a series of rhythm games where you tap buttons in time to all sorts of songs using plastic instrument-shaped controllers. In the latest game, Guitar Hero Live, you play along to real-life recorded performances filmed from the lead guitarist's perspective, impersonating the feeling of being a real performing musician. No musical knowledge is required to play, making it a uniquely immersive and entertaining experience as you try to beat your own and other people's high scores on each track.

There are two modes in Guitar Hero Live: a single-player campaign, where you play the lead guitarist in a band and complete sets of songs in front of an audience, and a mode where you play along to songs from a 24-hour rotating schedule. In both, you use a specialised guitar-shaped controller with six buttons to play along to the music, matching the button inputs shown on the screen. On iOS, by connecting this controller to your phone via Bluetooth, the game was unlocked from the app store, but if you didn't have the controller, you could still play the game by touching the screen at the correct time.

As you're playing, you rack up points depending on how closely you match the rhythm and required inputs, and the higher your score goes, the more excited the crowd becomes. Make mistakes, however, and the crows become frustrated until you get back on track. At the end of each track, you get an overall score based on your performance, which is ranked against other players worldwide. Improving your score and competing against friends and family to see who can do best is a major part of the appeal.

While Guitar Hero Live and some of the earlier games focus exclusively on guitar playing, other games in the series, such as Guitar Hero 5, support additional instruments as well, like bass, drums, and vocals, all with their own dedicated instrument controllers. Although now discontinued, many of these instruments can still be found in second-hand shops and online, and the earlier games (Guitar Hero I-III) can be played with a regular gamepad. In addition, the DS games used a different controller that plugged into the Gameboy slot at the bottom of the device. The servers for the online sections of the games have all been shut down, and the digital games have been removed from sale, but you can still buy the physical versions of the games and play the songs that come on the disk:
  • Guitar Hero (2005) PlayStation 2.
  • Guitar Hero II (2006) PlayStation 2.
  • Guitar Hero Encore: Rocks the 80s (2007) PlayStation 2.
  • Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock (2007/2008) PlayStation 2, PlayStation 3, Wii, Xbox 360, PC and Mac.
  • Guitar Hero: Aerosmith (2008) Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 2, Wii, PC and Mac.
  • Guitar Hero World Tour (2008/2009) Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 2, Wii, PC and Mac.
  • Guitar Hero: On Tour (2008) DS.
  • Guitar Hero On Tour: Decades (2008) DS.
  • Guitar Hero On Tour: Modern Hits (2009) DS.
  • Guitar Hero Arcade (2009) Arcade Machines.
  • Guitar Hero: Metallica (2009) Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 2 and Wii.
  • Guitar Hero: Van Halen (2009) Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 2 and Wii.
  • Guitar Hero: Smash Hits (2009) Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 2 and Wii.
  • Guitar Hero 5 (2009) Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 2 and Wii.
  • Band Hero (2009) Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 2, Wii and Nintendo DS.
  • Guitar Hero: Warriors of Rock (2010) Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and Wii.
  • Guitar Hero Live (2015) PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Wii U, Xbox 360, Xbox One, iOS and Apple TV.

The result is a game that offers a unique mix of rhythm-based music playing and lighthearted fun that offers an entertaining challenge for children and parents alike, as you try to perfect your every action to get the highest score.

Our examiner, Ben Kendall, first checked Guitar Hero 17 months ago. It was re-examined by Jo Robertson and updated 17 months ago.
Kids not old enough for this yet? There are lots of games similar to Guitar Hero (Series). Here are some similar younger-rated games:

Play StylePlay Style

This is an Action, Rhythm and Sequencing game with Simulation elements. You can play with 1 to 4 players in the same room or as a 4-player online game. In earlier Guitar Hero games (Guitar Hero, Guitar Hero II, Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock, Guitar Hero Encore: Rocks the 80s, and Guitar Hero: Aerosmith) and the latest game, Guitar Hero Live, you can only play with one other person, but every game onwards has a Band Mode, where you and up to three other people play together, each using a different instrument.

You can play this game in the following styles:


Play Time: It takes between 3 minutes and 5 minutes to play a round of this game. Songs have different lengths of time but are typically around three or four minutes long.

Age RatingsAge Ratings

Content Rating

The latest game, Guitar Hero Live, is rated PEGI 12 for Bad Language. Some of the songs contain the use of mild swearing / offensive language: '*!@?*', 'pisses' and 'ass'.
Users Interact: The game enables players to interact and communicate with each other, so may expose players to language usually associated with older rated games.

In the US, ESRB state: Some song lyrics contain the word “sh*t” and references to alcohol and drugs (e.g., "Smoke crack for me, read jack for me”; “But I done did enough codeine to knock Future into tomorrow”; “Eating babies, drinking black brandy”; and “Acting stupid getting drunk with my best friends.” ).

Skill Level

7+ year-olds usually have the required skill to enjoy this game. Still, it's important for parents and guardians to consider the maturity required to process the game content. It's also important to ensure children understand in-game purchases and have spending limits set-up. Getting the perfect timing on each note can be tricky and requires some practice and patience, along with an understanding of rhythm. There ar difficulty settings to help.

Account Rating

You don’t need a platform subscription to play this game online.


Guitar Hero

PlayStation Store PS4 -
XBox Store Xbox One -
Steam Store PC -
App Store Mac Unavailable On Digital Store
There are the following additional costs associated with this game:
  • In-Game Purchases: Additional in-game purchases are offered for items that enhance the experience.
While no longer available to buy digitally, you can still find physical copies of many of the games. The online servers have shut down, meaning you can't play online or get extra songs, but you can still play the ones on the disk.

You could buy in-game currency that allows you to play extra songs in many of the games, although this functionality is missing now. 
It's important to set up your accounts and devices appropriately. More information is on our Financial Resources page.

DetailsGame Details

Release Date: 08/11/2005, updated in 2015

Out Now: Apple TV, DS, Mac, PC, PS2, PS3, PS4, Wii, Wii U, Xbox 360, Xbox One and iOS

Skill Rating: 7+ year-olds

Players: 1-4 (4 online)

Genres: Action, Rhythm, Sequencing and Simulation

Accessibility: 10 features

Components: 2D Overhead and Grid

Developer: Activision (@Activision)

Taming Gaming Book Written by parents for parents, the database complements the in-depth discussion about video game addiction, violence, spending and online safety in the Taming Gaming book. We are an editorially independent, free resource without adverts that is supported by partnerships.

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