by Chris Scott
reviewed on NDS
One of the biggest aspects of the Guitar Hero series is the performance. There is just something about standing before a television with a guitar controller, performing. Whether it is in front of others or just alone, it doesn't matter. The idea of mixing the biggest franchise in gaming -Guitar Hero- with the best selling platform in gaming -the Nintendo DS- probably seemed like a fantastic idea in theory but once it was officially unveiled there certainly were more than a fair share of skeptics. All those that thought Activision had finally milked the Guitar Hero franchise for all it was worth are going to be in for a shock once they get their hands on Guitar Hero: On Tour. Vicarious Visions and Red Octane have done a fantastic job of making the Guitar Hero experience a mobile one.
The first thing that should be talked about is the DS guitar attachment. Red Octane has once again come through with a solid piece of hardware to play Guitar Hero with. For those that are familiar with the series the first thing they will notice is the lack of the orange (or fifth) fret, this was due to the size limitations of the DS. The attachment itself is a curved item with four frets on the edge and a slot to input the device into the Game Boy Advance slot on both the original DS and the DS Lite. The device contains a special guitar pick stylus that locks in place on the underside of the controller. A regular stylus can be used to strum but the guitar pick certainly adds to the overall experience.
After removing your pick stylus you will slide your hand into place underneath the DS, forcing you to hold the DS book style. There is an adjustable stabilization strap that can be used to position your hand as best possible. While the device is certainly up to the standards Red Octane has set for guitar peripherals for the series it can be somewhat uncomfortable until you find the ideal position for yourself and extended play sessions may not be possible.
Once you have positioned your DS and its sparkly new attachment you'll be ready to play. For those unfamiliar with the Guitar Hero formula it is quite simple. The player is tasked with timing his or her button presses on the guitar attachment and strumming on the touch screen at the same time to coincide with the streaming colored circles coming down the screen. Strumming a series of notes correctly will increase your score multiplier while missing too many notes or hitting the incorrect notes on screen can cause you to fail the song.
Guitar Hero: On Tour boasts everything its console brethren do, Career, Quickplay, Multiplayer, plus some new things as well. Developer Vicarious Visions has done a solid job of bringing the gameplay of the consoles to the handheld, although strum recognition is sometimes a little spotty due to the nature of the touch screen. Vicarious Visions had to come up with a rather ingenious new way of deploying star power as tilting the DS would make hitting notes even harder.
To deploy star power (and increase your score multiplier by two for a limited amount of time) you will have to scream into the DS microphone. Actually that's not true but it is how the tutorial tells you to do it. In place of screaming you can blow into the microphone, hit the select button or tap the star power meter on the touch screen. While it generally works quite well, there were times when background noise from my kids set off the star power. I can only imagine that playing the game in public or on some mode of public transportation may result in some unwanted deployments of star power.
No Pros and Cons at this time