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Guitar Hero to Go!

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With a popular franchise like Guitar Hero it was only a matter of time before game makers took a stab at crossing over to another platform. Well, game developer Vicarious Visions has answered the call with a guitar-like attachment for the Nintendo DS that allows obsessive guitar heroes to play the game (Guitar Hero: On Tour) on the go.

This took some creative engineering, but they were able to create an attachment that resembles the games' original "guitar" neck, which plugs into the Game Boy Advance slot on the Nintendo DS Lite and Original DS systems. You use the stylus screen to strum with a guitar pick-like stylus. This can be frustrating, but shouldn't keep you from getting the hang of the game.


Similar to the other Guitar Hero games, there are four difficulty settings and the patterns get more challenging and more rapid as you go. If you miss too many notes, your rock meter goes down - most un-righteous as you risk "failing" the song and having to start over again. If you're hitting all the notes in a highlighted section, you gain star power that will increase your score big time. Star power can also be summoned by yelling into the microphone. But before you unleash your best Roger Daltry circa "Won't Get Fooled Again" there is a problem - background noises tend to interfere. So seek out a quiet, shred-conducive environment.

The unit can be uncomfortable in your hand even after playing it for only a short time. Also, it's easy for it to dislodge from the DS, which requires that the user turn the machine off and start over. Although most fans of Guitar Hero like to play for hours at a time, this would be quite a challenge on a DS. After a few rounds, you'll need to take a break so your wrist doesn't get too sore to play. There is only one way to play with the controls - something that players are, unfortunately, going to have to deal with. As far as track selection, there are 25 songs with 20 of them being new titles to the Guitar Hero series. The track list ranges from No Doubt's "Spiderwebs" to Stevie Ray Vaughn's "Pride and Joy."

The sound quality is OK at best. Even though the DS can't replicate the sounds of its console counterpart, the audio could be better presented. If you opt to use headphones while playing, the sound is somewhat better, but for a game that depends on music, it still needs much improvement. Chalk this up to the fact that designers had to compress the songs and sound to make the game work.

Playing the career mode is quite basic; you select a guitarist and then play five songs on each of five levels (called "venues" in the game) including: parade, Greek arena, rooftop, subway and on a battleship. Most skilled players can beat this in an hour and a half or less and the only replay value here is to earn more money to buy stuff like outfits, guitars, and other rock god accessories (sorry, no coke or hookers). With very few extras, this game comes up flat against its console counterpart. The developers deserve some credit for at least trying to make it cool, but this doesn't make it worth the purchase, which by the way is 50 bucks, so if you want to play 25 songs that sound like a bad AM radio then rock yourself out.

 

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Guitar Hero Beginnings

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The first Guitar Hero game was released in 2005 on the PlayStation 2. Developer Harmonix, which developed games such as Amplitude and Frequency helped usher in interactive games that let players create music using the Dual Shock controller as if it were a musical instrument. By making a separate controller that looked like a real guitar, players were able to simulate playing a real instrument.

Using well-known hit songs to launch the franchise, Guitar Hero and its sequel, Guitar Hero II, sold well and started a franchise that keeps growing with each follow up. More and more bands are joining the play lists culminating in a lineup including Aerosmith, Van Halen, Linkin Park, Ozzy Osbourne, and others.

The third edition of the franchise was released directly before this past holiday season, and is often the case with highly demanded video games and systems, Guitar Hero III was hard to come by. The result was a Cabbage-Patch-like hysteria for the game that eventually led to some obsessed gamers and overly kind parents paying more than a thousand dollars for GHII on e-Bay.

With sales in the millions and a choice of having a wireless guitar on GHIII there seems to be, like Keith Richards' career, no end in sight to this franchise. That is unless the drummer O.D.'s on vodka or drowns in the pool.

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