Guitar Hero III Problems Magnify Wii Flaw

Guitar Hero III has indisputably been a smash hit on all three of the major game consoles, but one glaring mistake has tainted the Wii release of the acclaimed music game.

Apparently, Activision decided to ship the game with mono sound, not the advertised Dolby Pro Logic. How could they not have known??? Not that the game is any less fun, it just doesn't sound as good. Activision had admitted to the problem, but it wasn't until last month that they announced that a replacement disc would be in the works sometime 'early 2008'. What? A replacement disc?

I guess one of the glaring shortfalls of the Wii Console is its updatability for 3rd parties. Sure you can grab firmware updates for the Wii itself, but for gaffes likes this, you think as a 3rd party developer you'd be able to push updates to your product. While details are scant on how the disc exchange program will work, they have set up a 'pre-registration' so you can get a replacement disc as soon as they are ready. I'm hoping with all hope that it doesn't end up being a 'send us your disc and 8-10 weeks later you'll get your replacement' deal. It'd be great (at least in this case) if they teamed up with local game retailers like Game Stop/EB Games, Game Crazy, etc, to do the exchange at our convenience.

On the other hand, I can also see why Nintendo would not want to open that up. It used to be back in the good ol' days, you got a game cartridge and that was it. If you were a game developer, you had to make sure that the game as flawless. There were no patches, no Internet, etc. You had to get it right the first time. The ability of consoles to self-update, though, made it so that companies could deliver a product sooner, albeit with a few bugs or missing features. To me it encourages a sloppiness which erases one of the benefits of playing games on a console versus a PC.

In the end, though, Activision needs to get its act together and bend over backwards, do flips cartwheels--whatever it takes--so that I can play GH3 uninterrupted in Stereo. No excuses.

UPDATE 20 JAN 2008 22:48

Well, my worst fears have been confirmed. It looks like I'm going to have to ship my game disc back and live without being able to play for a while. Here's an email I got from Activision support:

We wanted to provide you with an update regarding the status of the Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock Wii replacement discs. The game has been approved by Nintendo and is currently in manufacturing. We expect to have the replacement discs available in February. Once we have the discs, we will contact you and then proactively send you a prepaid return envelop with a game exchange claim form. You should return the completed form with your current copy of the game. Once we receive a completed claim form and game, we will send you the replacement disc. We thank you for your patience and support.

Activision

Lame. 'Proactive' would be more along the lines of 'hey, we'll setup the exchange with major retailers because we dorked up hardcore and we should inconvenience ourselves because of it'.

Guitar Hero III has indisputably been a smash hit on all three of the major game consoles, but one glaring mistake has tainted the Wii release of the acclaimed music game.

Apparently, Activision decided to ship the game with mono sound, not the advertised Dolby Pro Logic. How could they not have known??? Not that the game is any less fun, it just doesn't sound as good. Activision had admitted to the problem, but it wasn't until last month that they announced that a replacement disc would be in the works sometime 'early 2008'. What? A replacement disc?

I guess one of the glaring shortfalls of the Wii Console is its updatability for 3rd parties. Sure you can grab firmware updates for the Wii itself, but for gaffes likes this, you think as a 3rd party developer you'd be able to push updates to your product. While details are scant on how the disc exchange program will work, they have set up a 'pre-registration' so you can get a replacement disc as soon as they are ready. I'm hoping with all hope that it doesn't end up being a 'send us your disc and 8-10 weeks later you'll get your replacement' deal. It'd be great (at least in this case) if they teamed up with local game retailers like Game Stop/EB Games, Game Crazy, etc, to do the exchange at our convenience.

On the other hand, I can also see why Nintendo would not want to open that up. It used to be back in the good ol' days, you got a game cartridge and that was it. If you were a game developer, you had to make sure that the game as flawless. There were no patches, no Internet, etc. You had to get it right the first time. The ability of consoles to self-update, though, made it so that companies could deliver a product sooner, albeit with a few bugs or missing features. To me it encourages a sloppiness which erases one of the benefits of playing games on a console versus a PC.

In the end, though, Activision needs to get its act together and bend over backwards, do flips cartwheels--whatever it takes--so that I can play GH3 uninterrupted in Stereo. No excuses.

UPDATE 18 FEB 2008 19:35

Well, I got a SASE in the mail on Saturday and a form to get my replacement disc.  Activision says that it will take 3-4 weeks for a replacement disc to arrive.  Bummer.

UPDATE 07 MAR 2008 17:10

It has returned!  I got a little hard envelope with my disc and note inside:

Dear Valued Activision/RedOctane Customer,

Enclosed is your Guitar Hero III:Legends of Rock Wii Replacement Disc.  We sincerely thank you for your patience and understanding.  Please be advised that this re-masted disc should correct the audio issues you may have experienced.  If you have any questions, or need any additional support regarding the remastered disc, please don't hesitate to contact Activision Customer Support at www.activision.com/support.  Once again, thank you for supporting Guitar Hero.

Sincerely,

Activision/RedOctane

Now this is the sound I was waiting for! The game sounds spectacular!

Posted on Jan 7
Written by Wayne Hartman