|System: DS||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Vicarious Visions||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: RedOctane / Activision||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: June 22, 2008||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1-2||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Everyone 10+||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by Maria Montoro
Who thought Guitar Hero would be awkward on the DS? Raise hands! Ooops you caught me! Luckily, things turned out better than expected, so I'm here to tell you all about it. Read on!
Guitar Hero: On Tour is the response to an indisputable claim - Guitar Hero games are becoming a huge social phenomenon, and people, young or old, can't live without it! Otherwise, why would they host a Guitar Hero competition at the last MLS game I went to? Or why would my little four and six-year-old neighbors play the game like pros? People have found something they enjoy doing. They feel cool and important while playing the faux-guitar game. So, why not extend the fun and make a Guitar Hero To-Go?
After playing this game all weekend, I have to say I'm pleased with the results. On Tour hits the spot by mimicking the fun gameplay style we all know and love. The Guitar Grip included with the game is a sturdy plastic peripheral that's inserted in the GBA cartridge slot and sits below your DS. It has four fret buttons instead of five, which should be okay for most Guitar Hero enthusiasts. A strap with some Velcro holds your hand in place, while your fingers line up perfectly on top of the fret buttons. Those with smaller hands may have slight difficulties placing the pinky finger over the blue key, but once you get adjusted, it shouldn't be a problem anymore.
If you have an old DS instead of the DS Lite, don't fear - Activision included a small attachment that retrofits the Guitar Grip so it can be used with the original DS handheld. Some of you will also be happy to know the game is lefties-friendly, which was one of the concerns some people had. You can even swap the color of the notes to match the way you're holding the Guitar Grip. The game also includes a small guitar pick-shaped stylus. I found it a bit too short and slippery though, so I'm still using the standard stylus. Even though the $50 price tag of the package sounds a bit steep for a DS game, you'll have a great time and a unique experience with Guitar Hero: On Tour. Everything's ready to go right out of the box, and the only other thing you may need is a good pair of headphones so the music sounds right. The DS speakers are too weak to deliver an acceptable sound quality for the game, so a headset is definitely the way to go.
The main menu presents a few different choices. I recommend going with the tutorial first, so you can learn all the ins and outs of the portable version. There's a brand new mode called Guitar Duels where you compete against the CPU. This mode is also available in Multiplayer, and is reminiscent of Boss Battles in G.H.III. I found this mode to be the biggest innovation in the DS version of the game. While playing, some notes have special icons shaped like a spike. When you hit them, you obtain a power-up object, which you can use against your opponent. Some will light their guitar on fire; others will make them have to sign a t-shirt, a notebook, or a purse; others speed up the gameplay for them, or slow it down for you; there's also a power-up that cuts one of their guitar strings, forcing them to fix it before they can continue hitting the right notes. Of course, your opponent will be able to throw these things at you too, so be careful and train those reflexes! All these special items and more make the gameplay really fun, challenging, and competitive. Some may think it's a gimmick, but most will think it's a blast!
Of course, you can also stick to standard Guitar Hero gameplay. There are five different venues, and you can unlock an extra song in each of them. I counted a total of 25 songs when it was all said and done. It doesn't seem like a very long list, but it's fine considering you'll just play this on-the-go. I was actually surprised by the song variety, since my biggest complaint about previous Guitar Hero games was the uniformity of the song list. However, things are different with Guitar Hero: On Tour, and perhaps this represents an step in the right direction for the Guitar Hero franchise. You'll find songs of many different styles, from "All the Small Things" by Blink 182 to "Black Magic Woman" by Santana, including others like "This Love" by Maroon 5, "Rock & Roll All Nite" by KISS, "I Don't Wanna Stop" by Ozzy Osbourne, "Breed" by Nirvana, "All Star" by Smash Mouth, "La Grange" by ZZ Top, and many more. Even the songs I don't really like are very fun to play, so in this regard the developers did a great job. I'm sure new Guitar Hero games for DS will complete the song list with new and exciting music tracks.