I've been on the fence about Guitar Hero On Tour ever since it was first announced. I mean, just how much fun would Guitar Hero be without the guitar? Well I've had about a week to play with it, so I figured it was time for me to share my thoughts.
When opening the box, I was pleased to find an adapter for my old original DS. It's good that they understand that some people haven't upgraded to the Lite. Just a few quick turns of a screwdriver made it possible to use the older device. Of course I quickly switched it back so I could play the game on my white Lite.
The guitar accessory was a lot smaller than I thought it would be, which does make it easier to carry around. Unfortunately, smaller is not always better. When you fire up the game you are greeted by a warning to take frequent breaks in order to prevent cramping and discomfort. That troubled me slightly, but I quickly tapped the screen to get onto the good stuff.
I figured I would just go ahead and jump into the career mode. After playing just one song I knew that I was in for a rough time. First, strumming on the touch screen is not fun, especially anytime you go to chug several notes in a row. You do this by rubbing the pick back and forth on the screen, which works fine sometimes, but other times I'll have a whole series of notes just cut out. If this happens, I have to lift off of the screen and press back down before I can start rubbing again. Not fun.
I tried various ways to hold the DS, and adjusted the hand strap more times than I care to mention, and have yet to find a position that I can describe as comfortable. I have rather large hands, which very well may be a good part of the reason why I have so much trouble with this game. It seems to be made for people with much smaller hands. About 10 minutes of playing is all it takes, after that it's pain city. I've seriously had 5 or 6-hour rock marathons with GH and Rock Band, and only towards the end of those does my had begin to feel like this.
Even before my hand begins to ache, I still have issues just playing the game. When you switch between which buttons are pressed down, your hand inevitably moves. That's no big deal when the notes are coming slowly, however, if you have a lot of notes coming at you that require different buttons, the screen can shake so badly that you'll have trouble seeing the upcoming notes. Oh, and don't shake it too much, or else you'll accidentally tap on the Star Power meter and activate it at a bad time.
The peripheral itself seems to fit rather snugly into the GBA slot, however, once you get to rocking, you might notice that it comes out a bit. You might notice it because you get this wonderful message that tells you to power off the DS and re-insert the device. That's right, you can't just pop it back in and keep going.
The game isn't all bad news, but its redeeming qualities are far from making up for the negatives. I actually really dig most of the music on the setlist, with Ozzy, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Santana, and Stevie Ray Vaughan topping the list. There are plenty of these songs that I hope to play on GH IV.
I also enjoyed the way the allowed you to activate Star Power. You can tap the Star Power meter (I wish this could be disabled, due to frequent mis-taps), press the X, Y, A or B button and also by yelling into the mic. I would never be caught dead yelling “Rock Out” into the mic of my DS, however, if you just simply blow at your DS, it will register and activate Star Power.
Overall, I was disappointed with the game to say the least. I can attribute some of my issues to the fact that I have large hands. This is unfortunate, as my hands aren't gargantuan, and there are plenty of people out there with even larger ones. The fact that even playing for 20 minutes would make my hand ache for the rest of a day was enough to make me think twice about picking it back up. Could this game be fun? I'm sure that eventually after plenty of practice I would have some fun with it. I had no issues working my way from easy to expert on the original Guitar Hero. However, I just have no desire to get better at this game. It is seriously the least amount of fun I've had with a Guitar Hero title since the 80's. Looks like it's up to Aerosmith to quench my thirst for a new way to rock. I give Guitar Hero On Tour 3 out of 5 stars.