Anyhoo, it's a really fun game and plays just like any GH game, so if you are into that, then you should definitely check it out.
UPDATE (3/22/10) VFH Classic is dead
I have to be honest, I was a bit leery at first about Guitar Hero: On Tour, but still excited to try it out for myself. After checking everything out and plugging in the peripheral and checking out the tutorials, I was ready to go, and to my surprise, it seemed that the game featured everything from its console brethren and played just as well. Let me tell you a little bit about it.
The first thing you’re going to notice of course is the fact that the game box is much larger than normal. This is of course due to the fact that the game comes with a grip peripheral, which comes at a premium, brining the total of the game to $49.99. If you aren’t as hip as the rest of us and still have the old DS, then don’t you worry, as you can put in a special adapter so you can still play the game. Once that is done, you can simply slide in and out the peripheral into the GBA slot. The grip comes with a hand strap thing so you can secure it to your hand. Interestingly enough, it also comes with a plethora of stickers, just like for the guitar, and you can even change the face plate, so when new ones come out, you can exchange them for a specialized look, which is pretty cool. It is true that the grip only has four color buttons, instead of the normal five, but this is essentially the only way it could have been done, and you don’t lose any difficulty or fun because of this. Overall, the peripheral and buttons are very solid and well built and it feels just like the guitar. It is definitely a fine piece of work and something that will stand up against the test of time. Because of the way the peripheral is set up, you have to hold it sideways, in the book form, which works out very well. However, it will take some time to get used to as your wrist will start hurting after the first couple songs, however, this was also the case with using the actual guitar. You just have to get those wrist muscles strong and pace yourself, taking breaks after every couple of songs.
Here, you can see the grip peripheral from the back with the adjustable hand strap. It rests in your hand with your fingers on the buttons.
Like I said, the game is played in the book form, with the notes and performance going on on the left screen, while all your stats and guitar are on the right. The left side plays out exactly like regular guitar hero, with the notes scrolling downwards while your character is dancing around on stage. On the right, you have a variety of things, including your score, star power meter, combo multiplier, note streak, and of course your virtual guitar. However, it is near impossible to follow these things on the right, as you will have to keep your attention on the notes on the left, and glances, however quickly, to the right will throw most players off and cause you to miss a few notes, if not many more through the confusion. Luckily, you don’t really need to look at the right at all though, so don’t worry about it.
Upper left of the right screen is the Rock Meter, which shows you how well you are doing, and if it reaches the end in the red, then you fail and must start over. The blue gauge on the left is the star power meter and once it is half-way full, you can activate and use it to double your multiplier which is shown below it. As you can see, the guitar is shown on-screen, however, you don't have to strum directly on the strings, nor do you have to have your stylus on the whammy bar to use it. Also, on the right, you can see that the first green note that you are about to play doesn't have a black circle around the white center, meaning you can either hammer-on or pull-off the note so you don't have to strum it.
The controls have been done right, although because of it, can lead to a bit simpler time if you know what you’re doing. The rules are all the same here, except strumming and especially whamming are a little easier. To do either, simply swipe anywhere on the right/touch screen with your pick stylus that they give you, which is really cool actually and very ergonomic. For this reason, if there are notes that are really close together, you can simply continue to swipe away at the touch screen, as opposed to breaking away contact first, however, this is just a skill you must learn and doesn’t detract from the difficulty or fun of the game. While this seems different from using a strum bar, it is actually very similar and it feels good to do and natural. Also, the touch screen with the strumming, and the rest of the controls, are very, very responsive, so you don’t have to worry about the game not picking up your strums or anything of the sort. You can pretty much activate star power anyway you like. You can tap on the star power meter, scream something into the microphone, blow into the microphone, or press any of the DS’s buttons. I prefer the blowing, although sometimes this still throws me off a bit and causes me to miss a note, but it’s the easiest, least embarrassing way to do it I think.
Here, you can see how to hold and view the DS and game, and how the peripheral looks like when attached. You can also see the pick that comes with the game, which is stored inside the peripheral and has nice finger grips to ensure you hold on to it. I prefer the pick to the actual stylus, as it makes strumming easier.
The game offers up two main modes, being Single Player and Multiplayer. In Single Player, aside from quick play, practice, and the tutorials, you have your Career and Guitar Duels modes. The single player mode plays out just like the console version, where you have five tiers, each consisting of five songs, and you have to complete all five songs to move on to the next tier. You can play each song in the standard Easy, Medium, Hard, and Expert difficulties, and at the end of the song you are given your star rating, as well as all the normal stats, including your max combo, score, and the breakdown of how well you did in each section. There is even a high scores section where you can put down your initials if you did well.
Guitar Duels plays the same way as the Career mode, except you are dueling someone, as if you were actually playing a real person in Multiplayer. You play the song as you normally would, except some sections that would be star power are now the special weapon sections, where if you hit all the notes, you gain a weapon to use against your opponent. Of course they can throw weapons at you too. The player with the highest score at the end wins. The attacks, by the way, are all pretty cool and use the DS’s abilities in some way. The scissor attacks cuts the one of the guitar strings on your opponent’s guitar, so they must use the stylus to connect both the ends together to fix it, while the autograph attack sends a fan to your enemy in which they must sign some item before the fan will go away. There is also an attack which causes a fire and requires that you blow into the mic, while there are others that raise their difficulty level or decrease yours and many others, which are all fun and inventive, making for entertaining and exciting battles.
The Multiplayer section contains three main modes, including regular face-off to see who can rack up the most points; guitar duel to see who can get the most points, but with the aforementioned attacks implemented; and co-op, where you play together, with one person playing lead and the other playing either rhythm or bass. I haven’t personally gotten a chance to play these modes, but the standard gameplay obviously hasn’t changed, and given three modes as opposed to just one will improve replay ability and bring out more enjoyment into the title. It’s good to know that they didn’t skimp on the multiplayer and only offer one mode.
The dueling mode. Currently, I am under attack by the fire, which I must blow out before I can hit anymore notes. You can see who is winning by looking at the bar on the top of the right screen, as well as look at and use your items which are on the left of the right screen.
The feature list seems a little lacking, but is overall decent enough. You can choose to play as one of six different characters, all of which are series favorites, including Judy Nails, Johnny Napalm, Axel Steel, Lars Umlaut, and others. You also have your choice of ten different guitars, although seven of them are locked at the beginning of the game. There are also a variety of different colors and outfits you can buy from the store for both your character and guitar, which gives a good variety. On Tour also features 25 songs to play, including a secret unlockable track or two. The track list is pretty diverse, including some good songs, and some not so good songs. Because I’m nice, I’ll list all the songs and let you decide for yourself (Note: Some songs are covered):
• Ok Go - "Do What You Want"
• No Doubt - "Spiderwebs"
• Jet - "Are You Gonna Be my Girl"
• Blink 182 - "All the Small Things"
• Twisted Sister - "We're Not Gonna Take it"
• Nirvana - "Breed"
• Smash Mouth - "All Star"
• Rick Springfield - "Jessie's Girl"
• Pat Benatar - "Hit Me With Your Best Shot"
• Maroon 5 - "This Love"
• Los Lonely Boys - "Heaven"
• Bloc Party - "Helicopter"
• The Doobie Brothers - "China Grove"
• KISS (cover by Line 6) - "Rock and Roll All Nite"
• Daughtry - "What I Want"
• Steve Miller Band (cover by Wavegroup) - "Jet Airliner"
• Santana (cover by Line 6) - "Black Magic Woman"
• Stray Cats - "Stray Cat Strut"
• ZZ Top (cover by Line 6) - "La Grange"
• Skid Row (cover by Wavegroup) - "Youth Gone Wild"
• Ozzy Osbourne - "I Don't Want to Stop"
• Incubus - "Anna Molly"
• Red Hot Chili Peppers - "Knock me Down"
• Stevie Ray Vaughan - "Pride And Joy"
• Lynyrd Skynyrd (cover by Wavegroup) - "I Know A Little"
Guitar Hero: On Tour is a fantastic expansion of the series onto the Nintendo DS, with everything you come to expect and enjoy out of a Guitar Hero game. The game features everything the console versions have, with a decent track list and two single player modes that will keep you busy for awhile, and once you find a friend with the game, you can enjoy battling each other for days and days. The hand grip peripheral is very well built and the buttons feel like the ones on the guitar peripheral. While there are only four buttons instead of the usual five, nothing is lost, as the game is still insanely fun and addictive to play, as well as very difficult and rewarding on Hard and Expert difficulties. And if you happened to be left-handed, then don’t worry, as there is an option for that. So, if you have the money to spare, and are a fan of the series, then there is no reason for you not to pick up On Tour, as it is the perfect portable music game.