Guitar Hero II

On PlayStation 2.

You can’t learn a difficult piece of music simply by playing it repeatedly from beginning to end. You have to isolate the problem passages, work out the fingerings and phrasings, and then drill them, slowly at first, until you teach your fingers exactly how they should move and your eyes exactly what they should see and your ears exactly what they should hear. As a music major, I spent hours alone in practice rooms, painstakingly working through a few sticky measures. It sounds tedious, and it often was, but when I finally could nail those tricky passages, the sense of accomplishment made me giddy. It was worth it.

Still, drilling fingerings and rhythms is hardly exciting, which is why Guitar Hero II amuses me so much: Underneath all the bells and whistles, it re-creates that experience.