Rocking and rolling with your PC
by Alan Zisman
(c) 1995. First
published in Our Computer Player December 1995
-- Virtual Guitar
Virtual Music Entertainment, Inc.
19A Crosby Drive, Suite 300
$99.95 (US list)
Please put up your hands if you ever fantasized
playing loud electric
guitar in a rock band. Perhaps played air guitar riffs when you thought
no one was looking.
Okay, you can put down your hands now. The Virtual
Guitar system is
No musical knowledge needed... just some natural
rhythm, and the itch
to make it as a guitar god. Oh yeah, you have to be prepared to
For about $100, you get the Virtual Guitar itself, and
a CD-ROM game, ?Welcome to West Feedback?. Two other CD disks are
to use with the Virtual Guitar.
The guitar itself is a flashy, purple electric
guitar... about 7/8 the
size of a real guitar, with a solid feel. Unlike a real guitar, there
no frets, and only a single string, strung back and forth to create the
illusion of six strings... you see, you don?t actually play notes. And
that?s why you need no musical background. Instead, you use it to strum
along with pre-recorded music on the CD... trying to hit the strings
you?re supposed to, as a good rhythm guitar player. You don?t have to
when-- you?ll see on screen when you?re supposed to play, and will get
immediate on-screen feedback to see how you?re doing. Like any good
though, you can use electronic effects... the guitar has built-in
distortion, and feedback controls... as well, you can control your
mouse cursor, right from the guitar. Since it plugs into your serial
it?s easy to attach and doesn?t require opening up your computer or
Like any guitarist wannabe, you start out practicing
alone in your room...
well, not quite alone-- you?re helped by Lloyd, who once was a guitar
but got sucked into his amp, while trying to create the ultimate sound.
He?ll give you tips along the way. So practice... when you get good
you can try to join the garage band: Mark, the drummer/dude, Sheila,
sexy singer, and the rest. They?ll tell you when you?re not up to the
level, and praise you when your chops improve. Eventually, having
local agent No-Cheat Charlie, the band gets to move out of the garage
to its first gig, at the Dead Inn. There?s a vocal audience, who will
or pan you, as your playing deserves.
Finally, you can challenge Chops Felton, the reigning
guitar king in
the Riff Challenge... one on one.
The visuals are quite good, and pretty realistic
looking. Some are obviously
digital video, but these are cleanly integrated with the backdrops.
Your CD comes with half a dozen songs-- generic
bar-band rock that you?ll
be playing along with. The songs were originally recorded by bands such
as Motley Crue and the Allman Brothers, but here are presented by
studio musicians and vocalists... waiting for your rhythm guitar part.
All in all, visually and musically, it gives a good impression of
in a band-- even if you have no musical background at all. But to move
through the levels of the game, you have to be prepared to practice!
The system requires a 4 meg 486 with a CD-ROM
and sound card,
and an available serial port, running Windows and takes about 10 megs
your hard drive. Mac and Sega-CD versions are expected shortly.
Any air guitar player will find this one a lot of
fun... every one I
know has wanted to take a turn playing it.
I wrote this article
in 1995; the Virtual Guitar
was a pretty cool piece of hardware. Unfortunately, when I've tried to
make it work more recently, I've been unable to get it to function with
Windows 95, 98, or later versions. If anyone has success getting it up
and running with any post-Win 3.1 version, I would love to hear how you
I sent my Virtual
Guitar and software to someone who wanted to experiment to get it
running with post-Win 3.1 software. Since I haven't heard back, I'm
assuming she wasn't successful.
I played around a
bit with a descendant of Virtual Guitar. Quest for Fame
was released in 1995 and marketed by (of all companies!) IBM, though it
was developed by the same company that made the original Virtual Guitar
package. It does away with the virtual guitar, replacing it with a
virtual guitar pick, a large plastic pick connected to a cable which
plugs into the parallel port. It comes with 2 CDs featuring the band
Though it was
released in 1995, QfF was written for Windows 3.1. It makes some
reference to installing it under Windows 95. I tried to install it onto
two systems. The first was running Windows 98SE; the software installed
without complaint, with the installer running a number of tests of
sound and video, which the computer passed. Despite this, the actual
program failed to start up.
On a system running
Windows XP, the setup program refused to run, stating that it required
DOS 6.2 or newer. (Windows XP (like NT and Windows 2000) isn't based on
DOS). It's possible I might have been able to trick it, but I gave up.
So still no luck
with either Virtual Guitar or the slightly newer Quest for Fame.
Anders Markstrom writes: "I have experienced some troubles with QFF but
here is my solution. On my "retro" computer I run:
- DirectX 5 (some old games have problems if you go higher, I don't
know about QFF though)
- Internet Explorer 5.0 ( I installed IE 6.1 and that made QFF crash).
My 15-year old son
was so delighted when I made it work that he finished the whole game in
Jim G. reports "I have the "quest for fame" software, and have
managed, believe it or not, to get it to work flawlessly on an XP
machine AND a vista machine, using virtualization software from
microsoft (I basically run a virtual win 95 machine-- all sound and
video work perfectly)."
The software Jim is
referring to is Microsoft Virtual PC 2007 which is available for free download. You will need to dig up a copy of
Win95 or (I guess) DOS+ Windows 3.1 to make it work.