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Guitar Hero: On Tour (DS) artwork

Guitar Hero: On Tour (DS) review


"Creating a game multiplatform is one way for a publisher to sit on the fence by selling as many titles as possible without taking the risk of developing for the losing console. When multiplatform games appear on every active format available, you canít help but think the publisher (*cough*EA*cough*) are trying to milk the franchise a touch. But when weíre talking a multiplatform attempt to downsize a peripheral based game in which the controller isnít exactly handheld, a la Guitar Hero, s..."



Creating a game multiplatform is one way for a publisher to sit on the fence by selling as many titles as possible without taking the risk of developing for the losing console. When multiplatform games appear on every active format available, you canít help but think the publisher (*cough*EA*cough*) are trying to milk the franchise a touch. But when weíre talking a multiplatform attempt to downsize a peripheral based game in which the controller isnít exactly handheld, a la Guitar Hero, scaling it down onto a significantly less powerful portable console is real commitment.

As ambitious GH: On Tour may be; itís a mostly well executed attempt. Just in case youíve never heard of Guitar Hero, songs are played along to with a full sized guitar controller by strumming along to the on-screen tabs that appear in the form of coloured gems, pressing the corresponding buttons on the guitar and strumming the fret tab at the right time. Song performance is measured with a scale, playing notes properly will shift the needle into green, but constant slip-ups will make it fall into red. If the needle stays in red for too long the song will be failed. Certain parts of the songs are highlighted by stars, which successful completion of these enables star power, doubling points and will accelerate the performance tab into green which is extremely useful for some of the satanic solos. The game-play is no different in this DS version, but uses a four-button fret board plugged in to the GBA slot as opposed to a five-button guitar. The console is held sideways with your hand under the fretboard, pressing buttons from the side and using the touch screen to strum along with a stylus pick.

As is typical of the console offerings here, there is a career mode that involves working up from gigs in the subway to eventually earning the right to perform in Greek arenas and battleships, unlocking new track-lists of songs for each new venue. Cash prizes can be used to purchase new characters, outfits and guitars. A two-player mode over wi-fi is also present, where one player must outperform the other by playing songs flawlessly and shoving the opposition aside. By successfully completing highlighted note sequences you can chuck distractions at the opponent; however, GH:OT manages to add a couple of twists tailored specifically for the DS. For instance, your guitar will set on fire and you have to blow into the microphone to extinguish it, or use the touchscreen to fix a broken guitar string or sign a fans notebook/t-shirt/fish. Other distractions include a confusing screen swap or a sudden white camera flash, two-player is not just about you playing well but how strategically you put off your opponent.

The song selection is fairly modest compared to the console versions, but 26 arenít bad for a DS cartridge. The tracks on offer are mostly that found on console versions, with hits spanning from the past four decades with a variety of genres. Steve Miller Band, ZZ Top, Lyrnyrd Skynyrd and Santana provide some 70ís classic rock, whilst Nirvana, the Red Hot Chili Peppers and Skid Row make up the late 80ís and early 90ís metal collection. 2000ís pop hits are provided by the likes of Bloc Party, Jet and OK Go plus some modern metal tunes courtesy of Daughtry, Incubus and Ozzy Osborne. Most of the tracks are masters, but the covers are still done pretty well. The compression quality of the songs does leave a fair bit to be desired, to say itís even FM radio quality would be sounding pretty optimistic. Fortunately doesnít ruin the experience and youíd hardly notice when your concentrating on actually playing the notes right. The selection of tunes is well varied and presents a contrasting range of difficulty, despite the fret-board dropping a button this game is still freaking tough.

Despite the fact this is Guitar Hero on a handheld, the fret board and stylus combo captures the core console experience pretty well. All itís signature vices are intact, with songs that throw punishing solos at you when you thought you were on cruise control, quirky rhythms that are impossible to keep in time with and annoying riffs that take hours to get right. And this is just to get through the song without failing it. As with anything though, practise pays off and stumbling through an Ozzy Osborne solo without failing it really is satisfying. Although fretboard is relatively practical to handle, its not perfect despite being the product of 20 prototypes; itís fairly easy to get wrist cramp after fifteen minutes if not held the specific way. The other problem is that the fret board does have a tendency to slip out, but this is easily dealt with a bit of Blu-tac. But should you manage to overcome the potential arthritic issues, the fretboard in tandem with the touchscreen works wonders; the touchscreen is surprisingly responsive and the overall combination is very space efficient and not too bulky to carry around.

Guitar Hero: On Tour, despite being a bit rough around the edges, is a fairly remarkable attempt to encapsulate the fundamental Guitar Hero experience when youíre waiting for the bus. Even the visuals mimic its console counterparts faithfully with full 3D characters and venues, albeit with less polygons and effects and cardboard cut-outs for the fans. Internet play wouldíve been a nice bonus, but for now youíll have to hope someone else has this game as well. As long as you can overcome the potential difficulties from the fretboard, and the highly compressed sound, the core Guitar Hero experience does not get lost in translation and is just as addictive as ever before. A recommended buy for fans, but this certainly is not a bad way to start for newcomers either. Rock on!

Rating: 8/10

bigcj34's avatar
Community review by bigcj34 (November 25, 2008)

Cormac Murray is a freelance contributor for HG and is a fanboy of Sega and older Sony consoles. For modern games though he pledges allegiance to the PC Master Race, by virtue of a MacBook running Windows.

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wolfqueen001 posted November 25, 2008:

Yay. I'm glad you finally came back to us, at least for a little bit anyway.

Anyhow, this review was very informative and detailed in its descriptions, which is great, but it's not really presented in an interesting manner. It's still good; I just found myself having to reread stuff because I found myself spacing off in places and such. You might also want to proof again for sentences that can be cut down a bit. You don't really have any grammatical issus, per se, but there are some things that could be shortened up or said better. Like this for example:

The tracks on offer are mostly that found on console versions

"The offered tracks are mostly found" or something similar would sound better.

Anyway, this was still decent, and I commend you for reviewing a DS Guitar Hero game and comparing it to the consoles in the rather detailed manner you did. I rather enjoyed the bit about the new things the DS tried to incorporate. It's also interesting that the "fretboard" doesn't actually hinder the experience as much (aside from the things you mention). Granted, it's not something I'd still be interested in. A portable Guitar Hero I think would be too small for me to handle, not least because I'd barely be able to see what I'm doing, but it's good to know for people who would be interested.

I hope you stick around some more. I know you explained over on GFs that you're a bit busy with studying abroad or whatever you're doing, but it's still nice to have you around.
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bigcj34 posted November 26, 2008:

Thanks for the feedback, although I'm unsure what you meant by it "not being presented in an interesting manner." However, you can expect some more reviews from me in the next few days, some new reviews plus some old ones from GameFAQ's I'm going to revamp as well. Just for you guys!
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wolfqueen001 posted November 26, 2008:

Heh. Sure. Well... what I criticized is kind of hard to explain, and it may just be my impression on the matter anyway, but what I meant was that the writing maybe felt a little dry in places, thus making the review perhaps a bit less entertaining for it. However, your approach was fairly analytical anyhow, and so balancing that with entertainment is always difficult. I think I criticized Lewis for the same thing some time ago, but he's getting really good at balancing the two now, I think.

Anyway, it doesn't matter that much with this particular review because it still does its job fairly well in explaining the differences between this version and the console ones, as well as describing what pluses the DS version has over the others. Also, I'd imagine this game (or any Guitar Hero title for that matter) would be difficult to write about in such a way as to be everything at once.

Anyway, I'm glad you're write / import (and modify) more of your work. It's always good to see enthusiastic people around here.

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