Product Type: Activision Nintendo DS games
Newest Review: ... stylus across the touch screen in order to "strum" instead of having something like a strum bar. And there are only four fret ... more
Guitar Hero On Tour: Modern Hits (DS)
Member Name: yackers1
Guitar Hero On Tour: Modern Hits (DS)
Advantages: Great fun, suitable for all ages and abilities, awesome graphics
Disadvantages: You need some headphones to really appreciate it
****What is it?****
As most of you are aware Guitar Hero is a computer game that involves strumming along to different music tracks in a bid to earn cash (to personalise your characters etc.) and hit the 100% note streak. After buying and becoming addicted to the Wii version of the game I saw Guitar World Hero On Tour for the Nintendo DS and just had to give it a go. The thought of rocking out to a load of decent tracks whenever and wherever I wanted seemed a too good a chance to miss.
With the Wii version being so good and a real hard act to follow I have to admit that I was a bit sceptical when buying this game, although any concerns disappeared very, very quickly.
The Guitar Hero On Tour Modern Hits for the Nintendo DS contains 30 tracks, which is considerably less than that of the consoles. However, when you consider the size of a DS cartridge 30 songs is actually quite impressive, although I still think the producers should have created a special cartridge that would hold the full suite of tracks available on the Wii.
The tracks include songs like "Girl friend - by Avril Lavigne", "Two Princes - Spin Doctors", "Excuse Me Mr - No Doubt", "So What - Pink", "In Too Deep - Sum 41" amongst many others. The track list contains some absolute classics and, in my opinion this is one of the best track listings of any game of this genre I have played. It really is great and you'll soon be toe tapping, nodding and humming away.
As identified by the above the tracks are spread across all genres and include pop, rock, indie and heavy meal. There really is something for everyone on this game. One thing that is noticeable about the track listing is that most people would have heard of most of the songs, or if you haven't you will recognise them once the tune starts. It is a game of "all killers and no fillers", unlike the console version where many of the tracks are actually not that mainstream or well known.
A full track listing is available from many websites and is easily found by inserting "GH DS Track Listing" (or something similar) in to Google.
This game is played using the touch screen and a special fret button controller and it is impossible to play this game without it. Whilst the fret button controller can be bought with the game as a bundle package it is worth noting that the game can be bought separately so if you are buying the game second hand off Ebay or some other similar site ensure you get a controller as well otherwise you are going to be very disappointed.
The fret controller consists of a black box that includes 4 different colour buttons and looks like the end of the "proper" guitar controller. I should point out that the DS version has 4 fret buttons, whereas full sized console versions have a fifth fret button that is used in expert mode.
Whilst die hard gamers may see this as a disadvantage not having a fifth fret button doesn't bother me that much as I still struggle with four.
The controller is used by simply sliding the DS unit on to the unit, with the GBA cartridge slot cover removed to allow the male connector on the unit to slide in to the GBA slot. It is then a case of securing the DS to your hand (using the handy strap built in to the controller), placing a finger over the fret buttons, grabbing the pick and getting ready to rock out to your favourite tunes.
The game play is the same as on all the other consoles in that you chose the song and as it plays coloured circles travel down the screen that represents the guitar note of the part of the song. To hit the note it is simply a matter of pressing the corresponding coloured button on the controller and strumming. The strumming is achieved by moving the pick (supplied with the controller) on the touch screen.
With this game you'd expect that many of the console features would have been lost, but that does not appear to be the case here and just like the console versions some of the notes contain that all important "star power" that is required to reach those high scores. There are also times when you have to whammy notes, which without a whammy bar you'd think would be impossible. This is not the case and the developers have devised a cunning way to whammy the notes, which simply involves scribbling on the touch screen during the long notes. I think this is easier than using the whammy bar on the guitar controller on the console version.
What is good about this game is the touch screen will pick up a strum regardless of the direction the pick is slid across the screen. In addition, multiple strums can be done without taking the pick off the screen which is very useful for those fast notes in expert mode. In fact, if you had to take the pick off the screen then I think the completing songs in expert mode would be unachievable.
As with everything in life there are some downsides to this game and one thing I should point out is that to begin with, this was the most uncomfortable game I had played on the DS, period. Being strapped to the controller and the DS you will find your hands are forced in to an unnatural position, which unfortunately is required to play the game. I have the same issues playing the console version using the guitar controller however using the guitar controller you can actually stretch and move your hands and fingers to alleviate the pain. This is not possible with this version as any vigorous movements or stretching is going to lead to the controller becoming dislodged from the DS which will temporarily render the controller useless and stop game play. If this does happen then you will need to turn the DS off, push the controller in properly and reboot the game. It is not possible just to push the controller back in and carry on playing, as Nintendo doesn't allow "hot swapping" of peripheral items in the GBA slot, which is very frustrating.
With your hands forced in unnatural positions at first you'll probably find that it won't be long before your hand is cramping up in pain, forcing a recovery break. With a bit of perseverance you'll soon find your playing sessions will get longer and longer between breaks so it is worth sticking with it.
A game of this genre is all about the playability and the audio so, in the large scheme of things graphics shouldn't really matter. Despite this the producers have developed some awesome graphics.
Whilst you're concentrating on the notes coming down the screen the band members will be in the background singing, strumming their guitars or beating their drums. Whilst the movements aren't in time to the music, nor are the mouth movements in time with the words but this is totally forgivable. The band members are 3D polygon rendered and look very good. Whilst I have never been a fan of customising computer characters I have to make an exception for this game and I admit it is kind of cool to see the band members with different instruments and accessories or dressed differently thanks to the cash you have managed to earn during the numerous hours of game play.
Whilst the graphics are superb I do think they are a bit of a waste of time in all honesty. Playing this game I find I get so engrossed in the music and focus solely on the notes flying down the screen so pretty much everything else becomes a bit of a blur.
As previously mentioned this game is in a genre where the audio needs to be top notch, and once again the producers have really pulled it off. I admit I am usually the first to slate the audio quality of most DS games but I can't with this. Even with the DS' pretty poor speakers and audio ability the tracks sound just great.
In public places or in noisy rooms in your own home headphones are an absolute must have to really get the most out of this game. In addition, you don't really want to annoy general members of the public going about their daily business.
One thing I should point out when using headphones is that you need a controller with a headphone input jack since the controller covers the DS' own headphone jack. If you buy the bundle, i.e. the game and controller together, then you won't have any problems since you will be buying a "genuine" product. Care must be taken when you buy the game and the controller separately, like I did. The genuine controller is quite expensive and there are much cheaper alternatives available on Ebay for a fraction of the cost. I bought one of these cheap "knock-offs" from Ebay and whilst it worked perfectly it had no headphone input jack and I couldn't use it with headphones, which was a bit of a pain. Therefore, I ended up buying a genuine controller and a third party controller and in a bid to save a few quid I ended up paying out more than I really needed to.
Like all the Guitar Hero games across all platforms this version starts off very easy and becomes ridiculously hard, so it is something for gamers of all ages and abilities. In my opinion, this wide reaching audience is what makes the Guitar Hero series so good as the market is simply massive and very diverse.
With the DS version missing a fret button it would be natural to think that this version is easier than the others. I am pleased, however, to say that it is still difficult and expert mode is exceptionally tricky. With the notes flying down the tiny DS screen at a fast pace, combined with small buttons and being strapped in to the cramped playing position this game is a real challenge.
Despite having only 30 tracks there is many, many hours (if not days) of game play in this game. It is very addictive and I find it generates the "I want to beat my last score and get that 100% note streak" attitude that demands you carry on repeating the songs over and over again until you finally get there.
In addition, this game contains the "star rating" performance measure, like the console versions, therefore it is only natural to want to get the 5 star performances for every song to show your mates your superiority.
The multi player features of this game are excellent, which I guess is to be expected. There are several things to keep you, and your friends entertained such as playing each song in a co-op mode with lead guitar and bass guitar working together over a wireless local connection or you can go head to head and have a "guitar duel" whereby you play and obtain these power ups to disrupt your opponents playing.
There is plenty of hours entertainment in multi player mode and it is amazing how the "just one more song" or "just one more battle" turns in to numerous tracks and many hours later.
With all that's going on, the developer even managed to get a decent visual engine going to accompany the notes running down the screen. The characters might not lip sync, strum or beat the drum in time to the music, but it's still cool to see them in full 3D and wearing your custom items earned, purchased, and selected.
***Price and availability****
The price paid will depend upon whether the game and the controller are bought together (i.e. a bundle) or whether the game is purchased on its own.
At the time of writing the bundle can be bought from TheHut.com for £11.73 (which is significantly less than the RRP of £39.99) with free postage, which I think is an absolute bargain price. From my experience with TheHut.com the delivery times are a bit longer than most other stores but then it is free and waiting a couple of extra days doesn't hurt. In fact, I actually find it makes me want the game more and builds up the excitement somewhat.
The game can be bought in isolation from TheHut.com for £9.73 (once again with free postage), so getting a controller for £1 is fantastic value, especially when you consider a genuine guitar grip controller from Gametrain.com costs £6.95 and a third party produced one will cost around £5 from Ebay.
This game has been out a while so getting a copy will not present too many problems, and it is widely available from many retailers, including large national supermarkets, multi product stores (e.g. Argos), large electrical shops (e.g. Currys ) and specialist computer game stores, as well as from many online shops.
There is a huge price differential on many consumer goods and this game is no different, so it pays to shop around for the best deal. It ever ceases to amaze me how some retailers can sell things for less than half the price of others. How does that work?
The producers of the DS version have done a fantastic job in getting Guitar Hero from the main consoles and transferring it to a portable handheld. Considering the game play, graphics and audio on such powerful systems and having to transfer that to something much less powerful must have been a daunting and challenging task but the producers have really pulled it out of the hat.
The graphics are simply stunning, although they are a bit over the top and not really necessary, the audio is fantastic, the track listing consists of all well known songs (without any fillers), the game play is just like the console version and it provides hours and hours of entertainment, in both single and multi player modes.
Whilst the experience on the DS is not as realistic or captivating as strumming a life size replica guitar, like on the console version, (and it would have been naïve to think it ever would be) the unique fret button controller, combined with the strumming on the touch screen, does add some authenticity and realism to the game. It also allows you to enjoy rocking out to your favourite tracks whenever and where ever you want. I must stress that headphones are a must have accessory so make sure you have a genuine controller, don't go and waste your cash on a cheaper third party produced one from Ebay like I did.
The only real disadvantage of this game is the discomfort of an unnatural playing position or though you will find that this soon reduces as you get used to it and rack up game playing hours. That said, I have found that I still have to take regular breaks during extended game play to get the feeling back in my hand, as I now find I get numbness rather than pain.
Overall this is a fantastic game and I can't recommend it highly enough, and whilst this particular version may not ever be a classic I think the Guitar Hero concept and controller will be and hopefully there will be many more Guitar Hero games in the future.
Summary: Strum along to some great tunes whenever wherever