Guitar Hero: On Tour
Warm up your handheld guitar strumming skills. Guitar Hero's about to take the stage on the Nintendo DS.
After finding monumental success across multiple platforms (including the PlayStation 2, Nintendo Wii, Xbox 360 and the PlayStation 3), the Guitar Hero brand is about to go portable. Now before you go thinking that this may be some sort of mistake, Activision and Vicarious Visions have thought this through. Rather than hit the buttons on the touch screen to leave you out of the action, the developer and publisher have come up with a new concept for Hero's DS debut, Guitar Hero: On Tour. It's not the most comfortable method, but it's still very effective.
Here's how it works. First, you hold the system sideways like a book. The top screen, on the left hand side, displays your forthcoming notes on a fast-moving grid, letting you know which of the four buttons (rather than five) you need to press with the coordinating notes. In the background, your guitarist plays to a lively crowd, keeping up with the beats as they move on-screen. On the bottom screen, which would be on the right hand side, you have a strum bar. You stroke your Nintendo DS stylus along the screen to strum your guitar and hit the fret buttons using a four-button peripheral that plugs into the Game Boy port on the system.
You plug the peripheral into the port and then slide your hand into the strap attached to the back of it. From there, you choose your song of choice (one of twenty-five included in the game) and start to play. Multiple difficulty levels are available. Until you get accustomed to the game and this tricky control scheme, you're better off starting on the easiest one, just to get a hang of it. A quick play mode lets you choose from the unlocked songs on hand, but your best bet is to go right into Career Mode. Here, you play through multiple song sets, unlocking new songs and equipment to make your rocker look just right, be it a new outfit or a customized guitar that makes them look even cooler.
The song list is rather impressive, with fifteen of the twenty-five songs revealed so far. Some are favorites from previous GH games, such as "Helicopter" by Bloc Party and "Rock and Roll All Nite" by a KISS cover band known as Line Six. Others, however, are completely original additions to the series, such as "Breed" by Nirvana, "Heaven" by Los Lonely Boys (an AWESOME song, by the way), "Spiderwebs" by No Doubt and "All the Small Things" by Blink 182, among others. A lot of these songs are fun to play, although some are bound to stick with you more than others.
However, not all is perfect. Despite the innovation in its design, the grip of On Tour's new peripheral isn't very comfortable. After about twenty minutes, you'll need to take a break just to get the feeling back in your hand. Furthermore, the graphics aren't exactly breathtaking. They get the job done, with a decent amount of detail and easy-to-see notes, but the animation looks stiff and there's not nearly enough going on. At least the sound comes through loud and clear. You won't have any problem hearing them through your DS.
There are some exclusive new DS features as well. Midway through a set, you may need to sign a quick autograph for a fan in order to proceed, or blow into the Nintendo DS microphone to put out a pyrotechnic stunt gone horribly wrong. On top of that, you can also hook up with a friend wirelessly to either play in co-op mode or challenge them to an all-out guitar duel. Customization options are available as well, some over the course of the game's Career Mode.
Guitar Hero: On Tour is set to arrive next week, and so far it looks like it'll do the job. The grip peripheral isn't the greatest in the world, but it does make you feel like you're rocking out. That's important for a game such as this. The presentation isn't half bad and the set list is very promising, covering everyone from Rick Springfield's "Jessie's Girl" to Jet's "Are You Gonna Be My Girl". Check back with Modojo for a full review soon, and keep on rocking.