Guitar Hero: On Tour First Look

We see the handheld version of Activision's rocking series for the first time.


It took more than 20 prototypes to get it right, but it seems like the developers at Vicarious Visions are happy with the guitar-grip attachment that will come shipped with the Nintendo DS version of Guitar Hero: On Tour. Producers were on hand at this week's Nintendo Media Summit in San Francisco to show off the game so that fans of the incredibly popular music series could see Guitar Hero translated to the handheld format.

Even with one less button, you'll still give your fingers a workout in Guitar Hero: On Tour for Nintendo DS.
Even with one less button, you'll still give your fingers a workout in Guitar Hero: On Tour for Nintendo DS.

The guitar-grip attachment fits neatly into the Game Boy Advance slot and is curved near the top (where the buttons are) so your fingers can easily reach the buttons. In addition, the guitar grip will fit both the DS Lite and the older Nintendo DS models--all you need to do is swap out a module close to where the grip attaches to the GBA slot to convert the grip to fit with the older DS model. There will also be a guitar pick for playing purposes--while holding the DS vertically like a book, you simply sweep it across the touch screen to pluck your notes and chords. The pick is a bit larger than your typical guitar pick, with a stylus nub at the end for navigating menus and selecting specific items on the screen.

According to producers, one of the key innovations to the guitar-grip attachment was to convert the GBA slot on the Nintendo DS from an output slot (one that plays GBA games or sends signals to an attachment like the rumble pack) into one that accepts input from a player. That breakthrough made the four buttons on the guitar-grip attachment possible--and producers were quick to point out that these four buttons aren't merely mapped to currently existing buttons on the DS (such as the face or shoulder buttons); rather, they act as four "new" buttons for the DS.

Beyond the physical mechanics of how the game will work, On Tour looks to be a pretty authentic Guitar Hero experience, with more than 25 songs (20 of which will be exclusive to this version of the game). Five tunes have been announced so far:

"Do What You Want"--OK Go
"All the Small Things"--blink-182
"Spiderwebs"--No Doubt
"Are You Gonna Be My Girl"--Jet
"We're Not Gonna Take It"--Twisted Sister

According to producers, about 85 percent of the game's music tracks will be master recordings, and those that are covers will only be so because the original master tracks couldn't be found (which makes us think that these must be older songs).

On Tour will feature both single-player and multiplayer wireless play. When playing with (or against) a friend, you'll be able to choose to play cooperatively, in guitar battles for the high score, or in duel mode, where you'll be able to earn power-ups you can use against your opponent. For example, you be able to toss bombs at your foe that will make random notes appear as bombs for your opponent. Another power-up will break the strings of your opponent and he or she will have to repair them using the touchscreen.

The game is still months away--it's due for release on June 22--and we look forward to bringing you a hands-on report of how it works in the near future, so stay tuned.

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