Guitar Hero: On Tour offers fun game play for a uncomfortable price.
Since this is a handheld game the full size plastic guitar is out of the question. Instead On Tour ships with a peripheral that slides inside the Game Boy Advance slot on the DS. The peripheral is essentially a grip which consists of four fret buttons (green, red, yellow and blue), a guitar pick and a strap to secure your hand in place. After playing a few songs the controller becomes rather uncomfortable and might be a problem for those that have bigger hands. Unfortunately the controller doesn't snap into the Game Boy Advance slot so if you find yourself rocking out too hard then the controller slips out of the slot and requires you to power off the DS and start the game over again.
The game play is similar to the previous Guitar Hero games but what makes this installment distinct is the touch screen features. As always you must press the correct color fret button that matches the notes on the screen. Sliding the guitar pick back and forth on the screen emulates strumming. This works surprisingly well since it is rather responsive and lag free.
Since there isn't a whammy bar to distort the sound on the controller the alternative is to quickly move the guitar pick back in forth whenever long notes are being held. It's an easy way to rack up on more points. Another example of the touch screen game play is the way in which "Star Power" is enabled. To feel like a true rock star you can say "Rock On" into the microphone to activate Star Power, or if you're more on the shy side you can blow into the microphone or even touch the Star Power meter. While this may seem creative it doesn't always necessarily work. The microphone on the DS is sensitive and picks up any loud noises which will randomly cause the star power to activate. Since this happens quite a bit it makes it hard to play on the go which totally defeats the purpose of the game.
There is a significant amount of game mode options that are included in the game. Of course there are the standard Career and Quick Play modes which are basically the same as other Guitar Hero games. Practice is another mode but it doesn't seem too useful since there isn't an option to change the speed of the song so you can perfect those parts in the song where you get lost. Out of the entire options multiplayer is where the game shines. Unfortunately there isn't Wi-Fi multiplayer but linking up with a friend in the same place works just as well. There are a number of modes that can be played such as Face-Off (playing against your opponent to see gets the most points), Co-op (you and your friend play songs together), and Guitar Duel. Guitar Duel is similar to Face Off but you are given the opportunity to throw items at your opponent to hinder their performance. A few examples of this is where the music is muted but the notes still appear across the screen; repairing broken strings and putting out the fire that has encompassed the guitar.
Guitar Hero: On Tour isn't the best looking game on the DS but it definitely captures the Guitar Hero style. There are five venues to select from; Subway, Rooftop, Parade, Greek Arena and Battleship which fully pulls off the atmosphere of each one. There are a few familiar characters in the game but you can't really tell since the character models aren't detailed at all. On the other hand the various guitars that are available look great while they are enlarged on the touch screen. The size of the screens doesn't seem to make a difference since it is easy to see the notes that scroll down.
The DS does have some small speakers but you wouldn't be able to tell since the music sounds great. There is the option to plug in headphones to get the full experience but you should have no problem hearing the music if you are playing in a fairly quite area. There are a total of 25 songs in the entire game. While this is nowhere near the amount of songs in the previous Guitar Hero games, it is amazing to have that many songs on a small cartridge. When it comes to song selection On Tour tends to have more of a lighter feel to it as opposed to Hard Rock and Metal. The artists range from No Doubt to Ozzy Osbourne. There is definitely a good mixture of songs here and the bonus is that the majority of them are master tracks.
Sadly On Tour doesn't offer a lot when it comes to value. As always there are four difficulty levels to perfect and the multiplayer modes are a blast that will leave you wanting more. The problem seems to be with the short 25 song set list. After a while the songs tend to get a bit stale especially when you are constantly playing them over and over again in order to practice. It would be great if there were songs that were available to download but that obviously won't happen. This game is great to pick up and play for short periods of time.
Overall Guitar Hero: On Tour is a fun game that gives players a different way to play. While the game and the controller aren't perfect it sure does make up by for it by giving you the opportunity to be a Guitar Hero on the Nintendo DS.