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What's it about?
Guitar Hero is back – and this time it's mobile. For the first time in the mega-popular music series, Nintendo DS gamers can unleash their inner rock star with Activision, Inc.'s GUITAR HERO: ON TOUR. Packaged with a "Guitar Grip" peripheral that fits snugly into the Nintendo DS system, players then hold the game system like an instrument and strum along using a guitar pick-stylus hybrid (also included) on the bottom touch-screen. You know the drill if you've played any of the previous Guitar Hero console games: players assume the role of an up-and-coming rock band and must work their way up from playing grungy clubs to sold-out stadiums. While listening to the 25 or so songs, you must watch notes sail down the neck of a guitar and press the corresponding color at the right time, while also strumming; play well and the crowd cheers you on, but if you make too many mistakes you're booed off the stage.
Songs include the likes of Blink 182's All The Small Things, No Doubt's Spiderwebs, Jet's Are You Gonna Be My Girl, Nirvana's Breed, Twisted Sister's We're Not Gonna Take It, and as heard in Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock, Pat Benetar's Hit Me With Your Best Shot. Some lyrics, however, might not be suitable for kids, such as Maroon 5's This Love, which has lines such as "I was so high I did not recognize…" and "My pressure on her hips/Sinking my fingertips/Into every inch of you."
Is it any good?
Some doubted how this popular franchise would translate to a handheld game, and the good news is that it works -- and well at that. Sure, you don't get the same sensation with a guitar-shaped controller over your shoulder, nor do you have a big-screen TV with the volume cranked up, but given the medium, developer Vicarious Visions did a bang-up job with this portable version. In fact, along with a "Quick Play" and lengthy "Career" option, Guitar Hero: On Tour also offers cooperative play using a local wireless network and a head-to-head battle mode called "Guitar Duel." As examples of the latter, players must blow into the microphone to extinguish a pyrotechnics effect gone wrong or use the touch-screen to autograph a crazed fan's shirt during the band's set.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about if this Guitar Hero game is as much fun on a portable system compared to a console. Sure, there are wireless multiplayer modes and a guitar pick, but is it the same as jamming with friends in front of the same television, wearing guitars? And will gamers mind that you can't download additional songs with this game as you can with its console counterparts?
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