Guitar Hero: On Tour caught me by surprise, since I didn’t expect it to be this good. When I heard Guitar Hero was coming to Nintendo DS and I saw the pictures and video of the people playing with the Guitar Grip peripheral I was doubtful that it would be as fun as they made it out to be and if it would compare to its big brother versions on the home consoles. I would like to make it clear right up front that if you like Guitar Hero for the home consoles then you will definitely like Guitar Hero: On Tour for Nintendo DS. If you can’t get enough of Guitar Hero at home you can now take it on the road with Guitar Hero: On Tour.
If you have been living up in the mountains with wolves since 2005 then let me explain to you how Guitar Hero works. Guitar Hero up until now was only available on home consoles (PlayStation 2, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, and Wii) and Windows PC. You play these versions using a guitar-shaped controller that has five colored buttons on the neck of the guitar and a strum bar to simulate you strumming the strings. The guitar controller also has a whammy bar to add some style to the long notes for extra points and the ability to detect you tilting the guitar upward to initiate Star Power for even more points. This guitar controller works well for the home consoles, but it is not like you are going to carry a big guitar peripheral around with you to play the game on Nintendo DS.
To solve this problem, Activision and Red Octane came up with the Guitar Hero Guitar Grip that slides into the Game Boy Advance slot on your Nintendo DS Lite or original Nintendo DS (using the included adapter) for Guitar Hero: On Tour. This grip provides you with four colored buttons along the edge of your DS instead of the five like on the home console version. Then you hold the Nintendo DS like a book and watch the colored notes fall down the non-touch screen while strumming the touch screen with the included stylus pick. You also use the pick to activate the whammy bar while holding long notes and you use the touch screen to activate the attacks while dueling in the game.
The Guitar Grip and control scheme works really well and brings the home console experience to Nintendo’s portable game system. The only drawback to this control scheme is that your hand will probably cramp up after a song or two of play and you will need to take a break to let your hand rest. Having to hold the Nintendo DS and press the green, red, yellow, and blue buttons down causes your hand to cramp if you play Guitar Hero: On Tour for too long. I am not sure if they could’ve made the Guitar Grip any different besides making it a guitar neck that stuck out of the side of the DS, but that wouldn’t have been very portable.
For a portable version of Guitar Hero, the game also includes a decent amount of songs and from a variety of artists. There are 25 songs included in the game and you play them at five different venues. Some of the songs included are as follows: “All The Small Things” by Blink 182, “Anna Molly” by Incubus, “Black Magic Woman” by Santana, “What I Want” by Daughtry, “Heaven” by Los Lonely Boys, “Hit Me With Your Best Shot” by Pat Benatar, “Spiderwebs” by No Doubt, and “Jet Airliner” by Steve Miller Band. As you can see there is a good variety of songs in the game and I enjoyed play almost all of them.
Guitar Hero: On Tour’s graphics are impressive for a Nintendo DS game and I expected them to only have dots scrolling down the screen, but they actually have 3D characters playing their instruments and silhouettes of the crowd cheering. Granted, the characters, animation and detail level are nowhere close to Guitar Hero on Xbox 360 or PlayStation 3, but they are probably as good as you are going to get on Nintendo DS.
The music quality and sound effects are also good for Nintendo DS, but don’t expect CD quality music coming out of the Nintendo DS speakers or headphones if you plug them in. I recommend you expect cassette tape quality audio and you should be satisfied then. There is definitely some hiss and loss of sound quality, but once again, for the Nintendo DS I am pretty impressed on how well the songs sound.
Guitar Hero: On Tour has a few modes of play that include: Career, Guitar Duels, Quickplay, Practice, and Tutorials. You can probably guess what most of them are so I will not go over all of them, I just wanted to let you know that Career has you playing five songs per venue in four difficulties. Career allows you to unlock new characters, songs, guitars, and clothes as you progress. Guitar Duels mode has you playing the same songs as in Career mode, but you battle against another computer controlled player as they play the song and throw different attack modes at you while you play. They can send an attack that will break your guitar string and you will have to use your stylus pick to fix it or you might be attacked by a fan that wants an autograph that you have to sign before going back to playing. This mode is an interesting diversion from the normal career mode and I think you will enjoy both of them.
Multiplayer options are also available in Guitar Hero: On Tour and you and a friend can compete against each other or play in co-op mode. Co-op mode has one person playing lead guitar while the other person plays rhythm or bass guitar. The multiplayer modes require that each player has a copy of the game and the Guitar Grip peripheral to play, but this should be expected with this game. You also can only play the multiplayer modes locally, so don’t expect to be dueling on your Nintendo DS over the Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection in Guitar Hero: On Tour.
Rock and roll enjoyment on the go is what Guitar Hero: On Tour is all about and I think you will like it if you are a Guitar Hero fan. It would’ve been nice if the audio quality of the songs were a little better, but I think that might be a Nintendo DS hardware limitation more than the game’s problem. The Guitar Grip peripheral also causes your hand to cramp up and having only 25 songs seems a little limited compared to the home console versions that have double or triple the amount of songs with more available for download. I am guessing this is the most songs they could fit on the cartridge, but it would’ve been nice if there could’ve been more. Even with these minor complaints, Guitar Hero: On Tour still impresses me for being this good on the Nintendo DS and if you are a Guitar Hero fan you should check it out if you need a little Guitar Hero action when you are not at home.
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