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Sep 22, 2008

Review: Guitar Hero: On Tour

Guitar Hero: On Tour
Activision, Red Octane
Available on Nintendo DS

The idea of a portable Guitar Hero game is about as cool as the idea of carrying around a huge ghetto blaster was back in the 80s - the in crowd saw the idea as cool, but the guy actually carrying the heavy and awkward machine probably realised how stupid the idea was after his shoulder started to cave in after walking the first couple of blocks with it. If I lost you in my example, then you better read my review of Guitar Hero: On Tour because then you like me will understand the ghetto-blaster-carrying guy’s point of view.

Generally I do all my portable game reviews at work, so I can tell how “15 minute break” friendly the game is and also I can get my fellow gamers‘ opinion on the game as they watch me play. Guitar Hero: On Tour really wasn’t one of those games that I could take the opinion of anyone watching seriously. Why? Because they didn’t have their hand strapped into the game controller.

Guitar Hero: On Tour comes with a 4 key fret pad that connects into the Gameboy advance shot on your Nintendo DS for which you must you slip your hand around and through its strap, almost like your holding the DS system like an open book. This allows you to place your fingers on the 4 keys with your left hand and strum with the pick stylus on the touch pad with your right hand. This setup was massively comfortable and I couldn’t play through more than 2 or 3 songs before my hand started to cramp up.

So to play the game, you basically just have to strum on the touch pad with the stylus as you push the right coloured key on the fret pad to match the notes scrolling down on the DS screen. Not much different than how you play Guitar Hero on the console version. If anything it was easier to play the notes on this version of Guitar Hero than the console version because I could see the keys in the corner of my eye, but it was just too bad the strumming mechanics didn‘t work right. With no resistant from the screen to tell if you’re strumming right, you lose more notes to missed strums than you do from missed keys. Star power was activated from yelling “Rock Out” into your DS microphone, but I chose to blow on it instead. Less embarrassing.

The game modes include career mode for single player to unlock all the songs in easy, medium or expert and there is also quick play mode which allows for a single player single song play on any level. Multiplayer works over Nintendo DS local wireless connection and allows for co-op play or guitar duels. As usual Guitar Hero has unlockable songs and gear for players to collect as they work their way through career mode with one of 6 different players.

The song list is actually the best list I’ve seen in any of the Guitar Hero games so far. With 95% of the songs from artists I actual know and like, I was always excited to play each of the songs in the list and it made the songs much easier to play when I knew them. Tracks from Daughtry, Kiss, Nirvana, No Doubt, Ozzy Osbourne and other popular artists all make up this game’s catalogue of song tracks this time around and I also noted there were more new tracks in this game than previous games like Ozzy’s newest song, “I don’t wanna stop”, Incubus’ “Anna Molly” and Daughtry’s “What I want”.

With such a great list of track, it was a shame the audio was so terrible. The music was very tinny sounding, lacked any bass and was really very quiet on the Nintendo DS speakers, so don’t expect to be rocking the house with the tunes from this game. Even with your headphones on, the opening credit music was louder than the music you play during the game.

As a bonus point though, this game does help you stay in shape for playing Guitar Hero on the console which helped me match skills with my boyfriend on the game at home for once. Surprisingly this game does have a sort of magic power about it that manages to grab the attention of every gamer geek within 30 feet radius. Every person I knew and didn’t was coming up to me at work asking me about this game and talking about how cool it looked. Meanwhile my hand is cramping up and they can’t hear how cruddy the sound was coming through my headphones.

Now you see why I feel like the ghetto blaster guy when I play Guitar Hero: On Tour. Now excuse me while I go into portable Guitar Hero retirement for a while and put my wrist on ice.

Rating: 4 out of 10
Forget it

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