Guitar Hero for the DS? Yes, that’s right and we are quite serious about this. And having spent hours of gaming time on both Guitar Hero 2 and Guitar Hero 3, I was not about to let the challenge of Guitar Hero on the DS phase me — nope, not one bit. Several hours later though, and yeah… well let’s just say my fingers were cramping, my hand was swollen and I was definitely feeling a little worse for wear.
When first I heard about Guitar Hero being ported over to the NDS, I was a little concerned that the phenomenal household name of Guitar Hero would slowly edge closer towards becoming more of a gimmick than a game to be taken seriously. But let’s be honest here, Guitar Hero is all about fun and on some level, it is a gimmick. What Guitar Hero represents is game development at its absolute best; when you have a game that can deliver so many hours of fun filled gaming sessions by playing along to songs with a plastic guitar; you’ve got something special, gimmick or no.
So how can that experience ever be replicated without a guitar and on a portable handheld console like the Nintendo DS? Well, after playing for a few hours (with regular breaks in-between as the guide suggests) I have discovered that the same, addictive game element still exists to some degree and once it gets hold of you, it’s really hard to get away from. I blame it all on the music because if you’re a fan of Guitar Hero, you know that the one thing that keeps you coming back for more is the songs.
Basically, Guitar Hero: On Tour (not to be confused with the other new title from Activision, Guitar Hero: World Tour releasing in the next quarter or so) is played via an adapter that connects to your DS which allows you to use your fingers on the keys that represent the coloured notes on the fret board in the game. The premise is quite simple, you flip your DS so that you’re looking at it vertically not horizontally and you strum along on the virtual guitar on the touch screen with your pick shaped stylus. At first, this will seem pretty weird but it won’t take long to become accustomed to pushing the buttons in time with the music like you would do other Guitar Hero games.
There’s no denying that the DS is not a plastic Gibson guitar. You’ll soon feel it in your hands after a couple of hours if you don’t notice it straight away. A certain measure of dexterity is required to play any of the Guitar Hero games but it really does become more of an important aspect of the game on the DS.
The game itself is setup almost identically to the Xbox 360 version of Guitar Hero 3. You can choose from a selection of characters to represent you in the game, you can choose from various different game modes such as Quick play and Career and you can also purchase outfits, guitars, guitar finishes, the works — it’s all there. But it’s not so much the way the game is presented that’s the problem. It really does come down to the actual playing of the songs and that’s the most important thing.
The one thing I didn’t like in the game was activating star power. You cannot use the tilt function to activate star power nor can you use the whammy bar. The whammy bar is now a virtual thing and you have to strum it with your stylus to activate it whilst star power can only be activated by ‘blowing’ on the microphone on your DS. I found this quite frustrating and no matter how hard I tried to activate star power, most of the time it just wouldn’t activate for me.
The set list however is impressive and features songs like “Spiderwebs” by No Doubt, “Breed” by Nirvana,and “All the Small Things” by Blink 182 which may not be everyone’s cuppa tea but the set list is varied and very much rock orientated.
I will definitely continue to play Guitar Hero: On Tour (and try hard to beat expert). I just don’t think it will get as much game time as my copies of Guitar Hero 2 or 3 have in the past but overall, Guitar Hero: On Tour is quite possibly the closest port you will get for a game like Guitar Hero on the DS.