Learning to play the guitar is not as difficult as it seems. All you need are some basic instructions and a lot of practice. Oh, and a high pain threshold. Why the latter? You'll understand once your fingers start bleeding, but you keep going because you need to nail that chorus.
FourChords Guitar Karaoke only provides the instructions to get started, the rest is up to you. Sure there are many video tutorials online that also claim to turn newbies into Rockstars but these seldom deliver. FourChords however, is easy to use and includes everything you need to take your first steps to musical stardom.
FourChords Guitar Karaoke is now available on Steam for $19.99.
starting a band
One reason why FourChords is so easy to get started with is because you don't need any special tools or cables, just software and your guitar. If you feel that the in-game tutorials aren't sufficient then you can also have a look at the ones available at their online community.
The game provides 100 songs to start with across four categories including Pop, Rock, Country and Traditional Starter. Following in the footsteps of larger video game developers Musopia have made additional songs available as DLC content. There are a few available for free and the rest cost around $5 each. Adding all the DLC's will expand the song library to 1500 songs which is impressive but for those who are just starting out, 100 songs will be more than enough.
Selecting a song can be difficult because there are so many good ones available. Each song includes the list of chords needed to play, video instructions on how to play each chord, the strumming pattern to use and the speed at which the song is played. To accommodate all levels of players, the game also allows you to choose how difficult the chords should be. You can select to play with just a single string, 3 strings, basic chords or advanced chords. Generally, the basic and advanced chords are the same but there are some exceptions.
When you're press play you'll hear the song in the background while a karaoke style layout tracks where you are in the song and which chords should be played next. You can also select exactly which instruments to be used for the backtrack. Among these options, players can disable the bass, switch between drums, clapping or metronome for percussion, and select to have either pipes, piano or guitar as the primary instrument. When starting a new song it's easy to get distracted by the lyrics so those can be disabled as well. You can also pause, and rewind when you get stuck on a certain part of the song.
The karaoke format works so well that it's easy to play songs you may never even have heard before although singing along to the songs you know is way more fun.
Despite this being a purely instructional software package, the developers actually spent some decent time on the design. The game presents a sleek and stunning interface utilising various bright colours to pop from the dark background. The interface is simplistic but they've proven that simple doesn't need to be synonymous with boring.
There is also a beautiful soundtrack playing in the background when you're browsing through the menus. This was unnecessary but it makes for a classier package overall.
Before buying this game, you need to be aware that you won't be playing in a world famous band next year simply by playing FourChords Guitar Karaoke. While this package is effective, it only focuses on the basics of guitar playing and excludes many complex factors that would turn novices into professionals. One such example is the fact that the game focuses solely on strumming and ignores picking completely. Therefore don't expect to be playing the rocking intro from Sweet Child of Mine anytime soon.
Also, while the lack of additional cables make this a cheaper bundle, it's one of the game's greatest shortcomings. This is because the lack of input means the software never really knows how well you're doing and therefore can't provide any feedback to help you improve. The game tracks your progress by the number of songs you play through and levels you up accordingly but in actuality, it doesn't really reflect your playing ability.
My main complaint regarding the gameplay is the lack of vocals. Technically vocals aren't necessary for the purpose of this game but it's more pleasant listening to the full song instead of just an instrumental backtrack. I suspect adding vocals would have presented some licensing issues which would increase the cost of the game but this is only speculation.
FourChords Guitar Karaoke has one purpose, to teach players the basics of playing the guitar, and to that end, it works superbly. However, those who can already play well and want to take their average skills to the next level won't find much of worth here.
It certainly isn't perfect, but there's a lot that Musopia have done right with FourChords. The game is beautifully put together and it's really incredibly easy to follow the instructions given. Not everyone who picks up a guitar has aspirations of being the next Jimi Hendrix. Some just want to have some fun making good music and it's for them that FourChords Guitar Karaoke was created.
I enjoyed my time with this game, even though my fingers took a beating between playing and writing this review. I have to mention that I could already play a little so getting started was rather effortless. My musical talents are limited but the tools here were able to help me improve somewhat. Those who've never played before will have a more difficult time at the start but they too should be jamming away before long. This is probably one of the few games I'll continue playing after my review is done and that's saying something.