Wolfgang Van Halen revealed details behind the making of 2009’s Guitar Hero: Van Halen video game during a recent podcast appearance.
While a guest on the video game podcast Good Game Nice Try, Wolfgang (an avid video gamer himself) along with the hosts Sonja Reid and Aaron Bleyaert were discussing some of their favorite games of the past. That’s when Reid reminded Wolfgang that he was actually in a version of one of his favorites – Guitar Hero.
“You’re in Guitar Hero which is the coolest thing,” said Reid.
“I forgot about that [laughs],” said Wolfgang, who was featured in the game along with David Lee Roth, Eddie Van Halen and Alex Van Halen.
Guitar Hero: Van Halen was released by Activision in December of 2009 and featured the then-current lineup of Van Halen. The game came under criticism from fans after finding out there were no appearances of Michael Anthony and Sammy Hagar in the game. It also included images of the ’09 lineup performing in retro-outfits dating as far back as the late 70s. The game, partly as a result of the absence of previous members, also received mixed reviews from critics.
“It’s a really delicate situation just ‘cuz of the politics,” said Wolfgang. “I don’t know if you’re familiar with the drama behind just Van Halen in general but it’s like, there’s this singer and this singer and it’s like, we couldn’t really show all of that throughout the whole thing so it was like, ‘Let’s just use the current band as it is.’ And I think that pissed off a lot of people that the kid bass player happened to be there in the 70s ya know?”
Despite the mixed reviews, Wolfgang had fun taking part in the creation of the game.
“I had a, god what was it, like a developer Xbox 360 where they would send the demos and stuff,” said Wolfgang. “I’d be like, ‘Ah ya know this chart is a little weird. You should make the solo…I would tell them that the chart didn’t reflect the music well enough [chuckles] and stuff like that! And I got to pick all the opening bands so you can totally see the music I was listening to at the time. It’s really funny to see.”
Guitar Hero: Van Halen included 25 songs from Van Halen in addition to 19 guest acts including Foo Fighters, Alter Bridge, Weezer, Killswitch Engage, Jimmy Eat World, Fountains of Wayne, Yellowcard, Queens of the Stone Age and Blink-182.
Wolfgang said the band also performed motion capture (also known as “mocap”) in order to create their digital likeness for the game.
“Doing the mocap stuff was so fun, I’d never been in a mocap suit before,” said Wolfgang. “I think at the end I got to destroy the fake bass. And I’d never even destroyed an instrument before ‘cuz I love them too much but it was a really fun thing to do.
“It was very uncomfortable, it’s a very tight suit [we wore for mocap],” he added. “It’s just funny to just…they just play the song and you just pretend. There’s no strings on the instrument at all and you’re just like, ‘OK, OK. I can do this I guess.”