Guitar Hero On Tour is the latest in Activision’s part of the Guitar Hero franchise, and the one with the most potential for being a cheap cash-in. Fear not though, because it’s actually not entirely terrible!
Seeing how Guitar Hero doesn’t have much of a story, I’ve chosen to review the "Guitar Grip" in its place. For those of you that are unaware, this is a gizmo that fits into the GBA slot on a DS. You slide your hand through a grip on the opposite side and control the guitar that way. It’s designed to fit a DS Lite, but comes with an alternate slot that fits the DS Phat as well. The grip presents the main problem I have with the game. For one, it’s incredibly uncomfortable. The grip part is designed to slide around your knuckles, so it somewhat restrains your movement, and requires a bit of juggling to properly hit the blue or green notes, and I have tiny fingers. I can’t imagine how hard this would be for someone with larger or fatter hands. For two, there’s nothing actually securing it in except friction. It often loosens during play, and twice now I’ve accidentally pushed it out. I can not wait to see if a third party guitar grip comes out that addresses these issues.
Guitar Grip: 6/10
The graphics are actually quite good, for a DS game. I’m somewhat surprised they at all bothered with 3D, but I have to say the results are quite passable. The models could pass for Playstation-quality, and the sprites are all very nice. There’s a bit of dithering on the text, though, and the greens and yellows sort of meld together, which can be disorienting.
For a rhythm game, the sound quality is pretty poor. If I had to compare it to anything, I’d say Elite Beat Agents, but worse. I can’t even blame it on the lousy quality of the DS’s speakers, because it still comes out crap when you have headphones on, unlike other games where that improves the sound. The sound effects, however, are inexplicably quite good, and sound like they were lifted straight from Guitar Hero III.
As usual, Guitar Hero’s saving grace is in the gameplay. It plays like Guitar Hero is expected to, when the Guitar Grip doesn’t come loose it’s responsive, and the strum system is very easy to get used to. Star Power can be a bit tricky, as the microphone is sensitive enough that any background noise can inadvertently activate it, and I had to fiddle a bit with the options to get it working properly, and the Whammy bar is a little awkward. However, they brought back Pandora, so they get a bonus point for that.
Guitar Hero: On Tour takes some getting used to, and it gets a little awkward at times, but overall it’s a more or less passable first effort for a handheld Guitar Hero game.
Final Score: 7/10
Guitar Hero: On Tour is available for the Nintendo DS for $49.99 and includes a Guitar Grip.
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