No matter how effortlessly you shred through Guitar Hero III on Expert difficulty, ripping apart Dragonforce’s Through the Fire and Flames like it’s Hot Cross Buns, there’s still something inescapably dorky about that included guitar controller. Be it the shrunken size, the brightly colored buttons, or just the general plastic cheapness too it, it’s not easy to look a badass when you’re hunched over what looks like a Fisher Price toy.
Fortunately, for players who want to take the game (and the perception of their own maturity) to another level, a company called Peak Products has developed the hardware to take them there. Peak’s aftermarket Starpex guitar controller has been built to the same scale and using the same high-quality materials as a real guitar, giving Stevie Ray Vaughana wannabes a much more convincing ax to rock out with.
If the Starpex looks, from a distance, like it might have some more-than-superficial similarities with existing guitars, that’s because it does. Peak builds the unit from the same parts you might find in the real deal, admitting (or bragging) in its press release of using parts “handcrafted by a leading guitar manufacturer,” although it won’t reveal which one. That means solid hardwood in the body, neck, and headstock, and a true glassy lacquer finish.
Image Courtesy of Peak
But beyond aesthetics, it’s also a step ahead of its plastic brethren in functionality. Unlike the stock GH controller that offers players only five fret buttons, the Starpex has ten. What’s the point when the game only needs five? Choice. Players can use the five buttons down near the base for a traditional playing experience, or move higher on the neck for a different playing position. And if you’re playing Rock Band, you’ll need those extra five for soloing.
Did we mention that it works with both games? Naturally, Peak has designed the Starpex to work with both Guitar Hero and Rock Band. But while it’s good for either of these games on the PlayStation 2 and PlayStation 3, Xbox owners are out of luck, since that’s one bit of functionality that Peak didn’t include.
Besides the fret buttons, the Starpex also includes a button to trigger Guitar Hero’s Star Power or Rock Band’s Overdrive, a whammy bar for bending out notes, and a strum bar that provides both tactile and audible feedback.
As for connecting the beast up to your system, in comes with a rather typical 15-foot cable, but can also be outfitted to sync up wirelessly using a 2.4GHz transmitter. The Starpex will come bundled with both options, to allow players to choose for themselves which they prefer.
And since the Starpex’s body is bound to attract the same types of people who hacked stock controllers to get them just the way they want, Peak also designed the guitar to be easily modifiable. All of the electronic components can be separated from the body, giving owners the chance to swap out pick guards, give the whole thing a custom paintjob, or even replace it with an entirely new guitar body.
Upgrading to the like-real Starpex will cost you an uncannily like-real sum of $179.95 when the guitar debuts in late August, but that price should be nothing new for Rock Band players who already paid it for their full band equipment. The Starpex will sell exclusively through Circuit City. Peak’s surprisingly sparse Web site offers some more details on the guitar.
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