But the game makes one big error that ends up ruining the whole experience - it just doesn't feel like you're playing guitar. Don't get me wrong, the console games aren't exactly hardcore guitar simulators, but at least you feel like you're playing a guitar. The problem here is that strumming on the DS touch screen doesn't feel right and you never really get the same sensation of playing this at home in front of the TV. I'm not entirely sure how they could have made it any better or different, it may just come down to this being a game that didn't need to go portable.
Not only does this game not feel right, but it also punishes you for rocking too hard. You have to beware of getting too into a song, because it doesn't take much to accidentally nudge the Guitar Hero: On Tour fret accessory out of the Nintendo DS. While this may not sound bad, accidentally removing this from the DS effectively ends the game, leaving you with the option of staring at the screen of death or completely restarting your console. It's just another one of the many problems associated with this game.
If you can get passed some of these imperfections then you'll be treated to a lot of the same things you would find in the original console game. You still have the multiple difficulty settings, you can pick from a number of characters, there's still a story mode and you can even play these songs against another DS owner. In fact, the multiplayer mode is perhaps the only part of the game that actually feels new and original.
In a lot of ways the multiplayer is taking its cue from the battle modes in Guitar Hero III; players battle for power-ups that will make your opponent screw up and ultimately fail out of the song. However, in this game you have a number of cool Nintendo DS power-ups. For example, you can set your opponent's guitar on fire, which will make him blow into the Nintendo DS's microphone to extinguish the problem. Another power-up requires your opponent to sign his name for an adoring fan. And in yet another interesting twist the screens will switch, which can really mess you up. All of these cool powers make me wish that there was a better game for me to use them in, but alas you're stuck listening to crappy covers of songs you don't even like while your hand cramps up with pain.
Perhaps the best thing I can say about the game is that the audio is surprisingly good. Nintendo DS games are not known for their crisp audio fidelity, so it's easy to be excited when a company comes around and bucks the trend. The audio is still not CD quality, but it sure does sound better than most of the games I plug into my Nintendo DS. It's a shame that the Nintendo DS card didn't allow for more songs, I can only imagine what gems were left on the cutting room floor.
It's not that Guitar Hero: On Tour is bad, but it does feel incredibly unnecessary. I'm not sure I needed a portable Guitar Hero game, though judging from early sales I may be in the minority. Even then, the music and interface just doesn't work for me and the controls never feel like you're actually playing a guitar. If that's not important to you then by all means give this game a try, but be warned that this game comes with a number of unfortunate limitations.
Guitar Hero: On Tour has crummy music, a bad interface, an accessory that cramps my hand, a lot of bad cover songs and a stylus that looks like a guitar pick. Outside of that it's a fantastic game. Don't be fooled by the name, this is one game that won't make you feel like a real guitar hero!
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