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Guitar Hero: On Tour Preview DS

Writer: R J Gaffney » Blog
Posted: 23rd Apr, 2008

Publisher: Activision
Developer: Vicarious Visions
Release: TBA
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When I first heard Guitar Hero was coming to the DS, I did what most people did: a double take, followed by an out-loud WTF, all tainted by a cynical gamer's sense of inevitability. Nearly every popular franchise will have a crack at the handheld market, even if it's a half hearted attempt to get portable dollars for home console success.

As cynicism faded and curiosity took over, my mind turned to the question: How can you play Guitar Hero without a guitar? If the DS version has a guitar, it will either be a), not portable, therefore defeating the purpose of having guitar hero on a handheld or b) too small to be fun.

Of course, the answer was answer was c) stop being an idiot and let Vicarious Visions figure it out.

While you've probably seen images of the thing, you have to feel it in your hand to understand. It fits, oddly enough, like a glove. The strap fits over your hand, not unlike a scrubbing brush, and the four fret buttons line up on your fingers, but are a bit small. Understandable given the diminutive size of the DS Lite (DS Heavy users don’t need to worry, the fret board comes with an adapter). The fret board also has a removable face plate, so you can skin the thing yourself with only a piece of paper and a blue ink pen filled with rock majesty.

Four fret buttons means no orange button, which is good news for everyone who ever crapped themselves upon seeing it show up in the middle of a song and had to change hand positions. And changing hand positions is the reason it was removed. Holding the DS hand in one hand and strumming the touch screen with the other, shifting grip is not only difficult, but potentially harmful to dropped hardware.

To strum, the player simply takes the plectrum stylus, stored inside the fret board, and strum back and forth across the strings on the touch screen. You just stroke across the strings and away you go. All you need is rhythm, so it's your fault if you fail at rocking. The notes roll on the left screen (this can be flipped via the options menu for lefties, as can the button placement) and the right is reserved for rocking out with your socks out.

All very well and good, but if you want to rock harder, you need star power. You can either yell “Rock On!” in to the DS microphone or, for the sake of social standing and ease of use, just blow into the microphone for that cool burst of static.

But what of the songs? It’s no good having a cool peripheral if you’ve got nothing to play on it. Guitar Hero: On Tour (love the name) has a play list of roughly twenty five songs, and the soundtrack is more pop centric than usual. The first ... (continued next page)

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