First, the basics for GH n00bs: The game is somewhat similar in design to Dance Dance Revolution in that you get a series of songs you have to “perform,” but instead of tapping buttons on a pad with your feet, you have to push buttons on the fret board of a special guitar-like controller while triggering the notes with a strum bar. Notes have to be played—individually or as “chords” using the five color-coded buttons—at the moment the corresponding symbols move past a time bar on the display in order to score. If you aren’t, you’ll certainly hear it, because your part in the song will sound broken and quite unharmonious.
There’s also a meter that shows how well you’re doing with the audience. Play well and you’ll keep the needle in the green, but miss notes and you’ll start driving it down through yellow and then into the red, where you’re at risk of having the song grind to a halt and you branded as a failure.
Successfully playing notes builds your score, and chaining notes also raises your bonus multiplier. Combos of certain star-shaped notes increase your “Star Power” gauge (and build even faster if you use your “whammy bar” during sustained notes) . Once you’ve earned enough, you can unleash Star Power by tilting your guitar upward (imagine any guitarist rocking out during a solo…though contorting your face doesn’t earn you extra points) or hitting the Back Button, which quadruples your bonus multiplier and boosts the crowd’s enjoyment of the performance.