Guitar Hero was a major party game franchise back in its heyday and is still a big favorite to this day even if all the old peripherals are no longer officially sold and all that's left is the new Guitar Hero Live.
I think the problem the original Guitar Hero games had was that they released too many games too fast and ran out of big-name songs to use, but that's only looking at the music industry. If the eligible songs expanded to games, there's an entire medium they could use, full of challenging, catchy guitar jamming up there with the best of them. Entire franchises are built on rocking tunes. Look at how puny all the sections on this TVtropes page are compared to the Video Game one.
It's not like music needs lyrics. Cliffs of Dover in Guitar Hero 3 and Frankenstein in the original game are both classics.
It's sad that the only thing qualifying for game music in a Guitar Hero game is recreations with the music creator and the Halo theme.
That's why to demonstrate the musical strength of games and just for fun, I'm making this list of 10 game/game franchise soundtracks that should be in a Guitar Hero game. To show how impactful and challenging they are, for each I will pick out what I think would be the most difficult song to play and the most iconic song that every fan should know (usually opening or credits music). There's only so much you can say about music in words, so this won't be especially text-heavy.
The only real rule in this little listicle is that it has to be guitar-based in the original soundtrack. There are rock remixes of many songs in gaming, but these have to be official and from the games themselves.
The obvious one is out of the way first.
1. The King of Fighters
Hardest song: London March, Billy Kane's music that's been in 3 KOF games since its original version in Fatal Fury 2. That is what I call a psycho Billy freakout.
Most iconic: Esaka, the song that has been remade many times.
2. Sonic the HedgehogHardest song: With such a long-running franchise, it's hard to pin it down in this case. KOF has over a dozen different games, but even that doesn't compare to the enormous number of Sonic games that have been made. I'm sure there's a hardcore fan that can think of something that would be harder, but for me I think the hardest songs would be something like the final battle theme of Sonic Lost World or a rocking Crush 40 song like Knight of the Wind.
Most iconic: Live and Learn. That's up for debate, but this seems to be the one the most people remember.
3. Metal Gear Rising: RevengeanceSince the dawn of man, one genre of music has ruled with an iron fist. I speak of course, of heavy metal.
Hardest song: Stains of Time, which is both taxing on the guitarist and whatever poor soul has to play the drums.
Most iconic: Rules of Nature, presumably because of trailers and memes.
4. Senran KaguraHardest song: Shinobi Clones, mostly due to having probably the longest solo out of them all. The youma bosses in Senran Kagura 2 seemed to have gotten the heaviest metal tracks to emphasize their bloodthirst and recklessness.
Most iconic: Chaos in Bloom, the very first opening number. The series doesn't exactly have what you might call an "iconic" song, as far as I'm aware, so I think by default it's where it all started. On top of that, the song has technically been in the most games: the original game (for Japan), Burst (because it included the first game) and in the final duel of Shinovi Versus (which uses Burst's opening song if you choose Homura).
5. Guilty GearPunk rock tried to destroy the metal. They failed and they were smite to the ground.
Hardest Song: With only a scant few exceptions, the whole soundtrack is so heavy on absurd high-intensity guitar licks you can just take your own pick. In a Guitar Hero game, the Guilty Gear songs are the ones that should be the bonus level of hell, unless the slightly softer Korean soundtrack counts.
Most iconic: Let's be honest. The most memorable Guilty Gear song to most people is the game over music from Guilty Gear Isuka, and not for reasons related to the franchise.
For those who don't know, the riff was used as the game over music for the infamous game I Wanna Be the Guy. IWBTG is practically a parody in that most of its difficulty is in pulling dick moves and spattering the player's blood accross the stage in just one hit with every cheap trick in the book. The average player dies 100 times minimum, so they hear the game over music a lot.
But the iconic song needs to be something iconic for the actual series, so for that I think it's Sol's theme, Keep Yourself Alive (not to be confused with the Queen song).
6. The House of the Dead: OverkillYes, the House of the Dead games before Overkill had a few nice guitar songs that qualify, but this one completely overshadows them. Surprisingly, Sega never released an official soundtrack for Overkill, probably because they're busy making Aliens: Colonial Marines and bullshit copyright claims based on nothing.
Hardest song: The guitar use in Overkill has a lot of steady rhythm, so the tracks wouldn't be that hard. That is, except for the fast-paced Lock and Load, which has a considerably harder rhythm.
Most iconic: The game's theme song, the instrumental version of which plays for its first level.
7. BlazblueFrom the same company and the same composer of Guilty Gear, Blazblue has even more hardcore guitar solos, albeit not as many.
Hardest song: Awakening the Chaos. Like Free Bird, it starts easy, but then goes into a nearly nonstop guitar solo with lightning fast notes.
Most iconic: The same one. Awakening the Chaos, in addition to being Nu's theme (the first game's final boss), is also used for many of the series' menus, so many players grow very accustomed to it.
8. Dead RisingPeople commonly associate Dead Rising's music with light elevator music, which is what plays in the background for most of the game to emulate being in a mall or a big resort. Some forget that the bosses have their own music from various bands and they're mostly comprised of heavy metal.
No one can destroy the Metal. The Metal will strike you down with a vicious blow.
Hardest song: On a Mission. Why no, Slayer was not involved.
Most iconic: The closest thing the Dead Rising has to an iconic track is the idling piano-based music you hear in both games when not doing anything plot-related. Since there's no guitar there, I suppose the next most iconic would be the first game's ending song, Justified, but not many people seem to remember that one.
Therefore, I'm going to go on a gut instinct and say that the most iconic Dead Rising song is the one that glorifies what is arguably its most iconic character.
9. No More HeroesHardest song: Twin Electromagnetic, Destroyman 2's theme. To go with their metal bodies, the music is a heavy metal track, which is always the hardest kind in a Guitar Hero game.
New Age tried to destroy the Metal, but the Metal had its way.
Most iconic: The main theme, of course. Unfortunately, while the games overall are very guitar-heavy, the main theme is mostly techno and piano. But if they can made a dubstep song work in Guitar Hero Live they could probably work with this.
10. Sengoku BasaraHell. Yes. Sengoku Basara has some of the most badass music in gaming to match one of the most badass game franchises in gaming, and that's despite only one (real) game being out in America. I can only guess that when Sengoku Basara 4 comes out in America it will blow our minds!
Hardest song: The Abyss. That's right, a (sort of bonus) final boss theme for once.
Most iconic: In Japan, I can't think of what the most iconic music in the franchise is, but for America, it's obviously the theme that plays for the awesome opening of the only (real) game released here. That's kind of a default choice, but there's another reason.
In Japan, the opening to Sengoku Basara 3 is instrumental and not noteworthy. For the American release, titled Sengoku Basara: Samurai Heroes, they gave us a vocal anime-style song by the Japanese Rock band T.M. Revolution. They've been brought on several times for Sengoku Basara, including some of the other games and the anime. Their song for Samurai Heroes, Naked Arms, kicks ass and is sung entirely in (a vain attempt at) English.
Now where's Sengoku Basara 4? I want Sengoku Basara 4!
I also want a new Guitar Hero game with music like this, because this is what it's all about. It doesn't have to be a dead franchise with music like this available.