It was never going to be pretty - and with Guitar Hero World Tour set to go head to head with Rock Band 2 this autumn, the rock 'n' roll royal rumble has begun in earnest.
Speaking to Eurogamer last week at Game Convention 2008, Guitar Hero director Brian Bright scorned Harmonix' attempts to match the feature set of the World Tour drum kit, while ostensibly clearing up the mystery surrounding the rumoured new peripherals for Neversoft's title.
"I don't know how far ahead they planned that - we obviously revealed [our drum kit] much earlier than they did," said Bright, referencing Harmonix' plan to release separate clip-on cymbals for Rock Band set-ups.
"I've a feeling there was a: 'Oh s***! There's cymbals! How can we put cymbals on our kit?' That would be the easiest way without having to rewire everything and re-engineer the entire circuit board."
Guitar Hero World Tour's drum kit, coming almost a year after Rock Band first took to the stage, features two raised cymbal inputs, three main pads and a pedal, providing one more input that its rival, with Neversoft arguing that the set-up is also more realistic. All pads are also velocity sensitive and the kit is wireless.
The Rock Band 2 kit remains backwards-compatible with the original game, but adds quieter, velocity sensitive pads with further expansion available via three clip-on cymbals, to be sold separately.
However, Bright dismissed this as a flawed copycat manoeuvre, stating: "My understanding on that drum kit is the cymbals are dual-mapped, so it's just another way to trigger the exact same thing you can trigger on the kit."
He added: "We have a lot of expandability. You can plug in any drum kit and play it; if you want to use a keyboard and play the right notes for drums you can do that; you can use one of those hand sonic drums. You can use any input device that transmits on MIDI channel 10 in our game to trigger the drums: it could be a Power Glove."
Bright also revealed plans to release new drum controls for World Tour, apparently clarifying rumours surrounding new peripherals for the title.
"You can easily run a double bass [pedal] on our game," he told us. "We have future expandability for high-hat control pedals; it would also be very easy for us to add other cymbals via the MIDI interface. With the MIDI jack we can expand it to as many drums and cymbals as humanly possible - there's just only so many that the casual consumer can take."
And in a further dig at his rivals, Bright added: "Our high-hat control would not just be another way to trigger the high-hat - it would be a completely separate interface that's mapped differently and that correlates differently in game."
Harmonix, however, was quick to fight back, dismissing criticism of Rock Band 2. Studio representative John Drake told Eurogamer: "It might just look like more songs, but really the technology that we're pushing forward, and some of the features we've added, it's not just a title update: it really is a new game with a lot of really great stuff."
And Drake cranked up the war of words between Neversoft and Harmonix, offering some barbed thoughts on World Tour's drum kit. "We actually have expansion ports on the back of our drum kits that let you attach three cymbals to your drum set," he said.
"At Harmonix we really are musicians first and game people second... My drum set has three cymbals on it - I don't know how many drum sets you've seen with two cymbals on them; I guess that's a question for other people."
Fight! You can see more handbags action from Bright and Drake as they each attempt to persuade you to buy their game in today's Eurogamer TV Show Battle of the Bands Special.
Guitar Hero World Tour is out on PS3, PS2, 360 and Wii later this year in Europe and the US. Rock Band 2 is confirmed for a US release this autumn, with Europe expected to follow in 2009.