Screenshot: Helgabot plays Soulless 4 (YouTube)

During the period of American history known colloquially as the “mid-2000s,” Guitar Hero was virtually inescapable. It seemed every teenager’s bedroom and college student’s apartment came equipped with a couple of the game’s signature plastic guitars and maybe even the flimsy rubber drum kit. But at some point around the economic recession of 2008, the novelty of musical rhythm games began to wear off and these once-beloved apparatuses began to gather dust. Guitar Hero was dead. Or, so we thought.

Quietly, a small contingent of loyal players continued to perfect their scores on Dragonforce and Buckethead tracks, and when they ran out of legitimately licensed Guitar Hero games to play, they started building their own. Clone Hero is, as you might guess, a desktop clone of Guitar Hero that’s been in development for years. The latest version is virtually indistinguishable from the original game but, because they don’t have access to the licensed charts, Clone Hero relies on the fan community to manually upload each song before other users can play it.

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This also means that players can upload their own custom tracks, some of which are unbelievably brutal.

According to a comment on Reddit, ExileLord is a Guitar Hero song creator who has been crafting torturously difficult charts for over a decade. The above video is a supercut of two well-known Guitar Hero players sight-reading the latest installment in his most infamous series, “Soulless 5.” The unwieldy beast clocks in at seventeen minutes, a full five minutes longer than the previous “Soulless” track, and includes numerous segments that make even seasoned players exclaim “WHAT?”

The fact that these two almost 100% this track on their first attempt is baffling, but that seems to be par for the course in the world of serious Clone Hero play. For many, a perfect score on a nearly 20-minute speed metal track is just the beginning. After that, you use the game’s custom settings to ramp things up and try to perfect the song 125% speed.

But the Clone Hero community isn’t all about flexing your button tapping skills. Sometimes it’s just about the goofs. The customizability of the cloned game opens the door for users to upload “troll” levels that are purposefully shitty and “challenge” levels that break the interface to create unique gaming experiences.

So, while your college roommate may have hung up his plastic axe years ago, there are still Guitar Heroes out there, honing their skills and screaming “Hello?!?” into the camera when they see a syncopated rhythm coming up.

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