|System: DS||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Vicarious Visions||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Activision||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Nov. 16, 2008||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1-2; 2 Versus; 2 Co-op||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Everyone 10+||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by Jonathan Marx
Guitar Hero: On Tour was a smash portable hit for Activision this past summer. Much of the addictive gameplay of the Guitar Hero franchise was admirably translated to the Nintendo DS. The fret button peripheral and the touch-screen controls were satisfying if somewhat cramping. Also, the track list was quite varied and appealing, and the classic songs were skillfully compressed and sounded surprisingly good on the DS.
As you can imagine, playing upon the successful formula of the original, not a whole lot has changed in this second installment. Guitar Hero: On Tour - Decades is still a very tight experience that does a great job of expanding the musical selection, especially considering tunes can be streamed from both carts between two handhelds. However, if you are expecting some great new additions in terms of game modes, youre out of luck. Decades is essentially little more than a vessel housing 28 more songs. Even the Decades moniker doesnt fully change the gameplay experience, as more than half of the music is drawn from the last 15 years.
If you didnt have a chance to play On Tour, Decades gameplay and mechanics are identical. The four button Guitar Grip fret board, which plugs into the DS GBA slot, successfully emulates the experience found on home consoles. However, expect to experience severe cramping while playing for extended periods of time on Hard and Expert difficulties. Regardless, button presses and swipes on the touch-screen are all accurately registered by the software, allowing players to jam on their little DS like true face-melters.
The biggest difference between the original and Decades is found in its track list. The Decades theme divides the gameplay experience into five different venues, each of which focuses on a specific decade of music. Playable venues include Modern, 2000s, 90s, 80s, and 70s. Each category and song within them come complete with informative mini-descriptions for musical edification, which was a nice touch.
On the whole, the venues do a good job of characterizing the decade they represent, though the 80s were decidedly mistreated; the inclusion of Los Lobos La Bamba and Sammy Haggars I Cant Drive 55! as anthems of that era was a real mistake. Lets face it, there were plenty of awesome guitar riffs to choose from in the decade when groups like Van Halen and Metallica reigned.
Also, the Modern and 2000s venues should have been combined into one, as there really is no distinction between the two. Moreover, as previously mentioned, half of the 28 songs (five from each venue plus three secret unlockables) were recorded within the last 15 years. This kind of defeats the whole Decades vibe. Nevertheless, the track list is diverse and all songs (even tunes I loathe) are fun to jam to and sound relatively good (more on that later).