By now I'm sure most of you are familiar with the seemingly odd transition of Guitar Hero from consoles to handhelds, namely the DS. When Guitar Hero: On Tour was announced a few months ago it left many of us scratching our heads wondering how they would pull it off. Even with the addition of pictures of the add-on peripheral it was still hard to imagine exactly what it would be like trying to play. I finally got my chance to check it out for myself a few days ago and despite former misgivings I actually found it quite fun.
The first thing I took a look at upon arriving was the "guitar grip" peripheral. It was a pretty sturdy little piece of a equipment that fits snugly into the GBA slot of the DS. The clear plastic cover is removable and the logo can be pulled out so you can customize the look of it. The strap is likewise customizable, no doubt providing plenty of opportunity for merchandising. As you may know, there are only four buttons in this iteration of the game and while some players may find this disconcerting, there is actually a good reason for it. With the DS literally strapped to your hand, it would make it impossible for you to be able to slide your hand to reach the fifth button. Then of course there is the space issue. After looking at it close up, it seems the addition of the fifth button would make it a bit crowded.
I started out with a little solo play and was surprised how easy it was once I got comfortable with it. I will admit that the peripheral seems a bit awkward at first, but once you figure out how to hold it in a way that is comfortable for you, it just becomes an extension of your hand. Strumming is done on the touch screen with a guitar pick stylus and you can pretty much strum anywhere on the screen for it to work. The whammy bar is also controlled here in the same way for those long notes. The rest of the gameplay is pretty straightforward GH: follow the notes and hit your keys.
Next I checked out the multiplayer game (multikart only) with a fellow journalist. It was fairly easy to get the two DSs talking and once it started it was all out war. The DS multiplayer has the addition of attacks that can be pulled out at opportune times to foil your opponents playing. Set their guitar on fire, make them sign an autograph, cut their strings, the viscous fun never ends! While these attacks were cool and added a nice variance to the game, I sometimes found it difficult to launch the attacks since you have to touch little icons on the strum screen. If you are anything like me and are concentrating on the moving dots, sometimes it's hard to look away long enough to touch the icons. I still managed to launch some attacks but it was to the detriment of my playing. Still, if you can manage doing those things all at once, the attacks are a lot of fun.
Other additions to the game include some new venues (subway, rooftop, parade, Greek Arena) and two new characters (Gunner Jaxon and Memphis Rose). Guitar hero: On Tour will feature over twenty five songs, twenty of them being exclusive to the DS and the remaining being staff favorites from Guitar Hero III. For a handheld game taken from a popular console title, I have to say I was pretty impressed by the graphics. They looked sharp and didn't leave me feeling cheated or that I was missing something. All in all I had a good experience playing and this should be a great title for Guitar Hero fans and since it's rated E it will be a great fun for your rockin' little ones too! Take a look below for a partial song list of twenty songs. The remaing five will remain a mystery until the game launches or someone leaks it. Which one do you think will happen first?
Do What You Want – OK Go
All the Small Things – blink-182
Spiderwebs – No Doubt
Are you Gonna Be My Girl – Jet
We're Not Gonna Take It – Twisted Sister
All Star – Smashmouth
Breed – Nirvana
Jessie's Girl – Rick Springfield
Hit Me With Your Best Shot – Pat Benatar
This Love – Maroon 5
Heaven – Los Lonely Boys
Helicopter – Bloc Party
China Grove – The Doobie Brothers
Rock And Roll All Nite – Kiss – *Cover
What I Want – Daughtry
Jet Airliner – Steve Miller Band – *Cover
Black Magic Woman – Santana – *Cover
Stray Cat Strut – Stray Cats
La Grange – ZZ Top – *Cover
Youth Gone Wild – Skid Row – *Cover