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Guitar Hero is the video game phenomenon that lets player strum, pluck and play along with a semi-realistic plastic guitar.
After the breakthrough success of Guitar Hero on the PS2 and original Xbox (not to mention the battle with competitor Rockband), Activision are first to bring their franchise to a portable medium - the Nintendo DS.
Rhythm action games combine the enjoyment that comes from creating music with the challenge of video game scoring. The player is usually tasked with dancing on a mat, tapping a touch screen, pressing a button, singing into a mic or strumming a guitar controller in time with the music.
The original Guitar Hero proved that peripherals mattered in rhythm action games, bringing added realism and novelty to the game play. Guitar Hero On Tour aims to add this experience to Nintendo's already tactile handheld system. The game comes complete with a peripheral that slots into the GBA slot on the DS to provide four guitar fret buttons and a holstered plectrum.
The add on makes it possible to approximate a guitar like hold of the DS in portrait book mode. The player has to balance this against the difficulty of seeing the LCD screen and the strum area. It's a compromise that makes this a functional game although those who have played with a 'real' fake plastic guitar on the console version may find it a bridge too far.
Guitar Hero On Tour proves its worth on the harder difficulty settings, when you simply have to gel instinctively with the music to hit all the notes. Although the peripheral doesn't make this experience entirely guitar like, without it these high speed, high accuracy songs would be impossible. Perhaps more Sitar Hero than Guitar Hero, but full of fun just the same.
The game is structured around songs that last three to four minutes each. If you only have 15 minutes to play you can knock out a few tracks. To get the most out of it however you need a good hour to warm up those fingers.
Head to head sessions, pitting one DS player against another have been known to stretch out into the small hours, particularly with similarly skilled players.
The timing required by Guitar Hero Aerosmith makes it a little prohibitive for very young players. That said, provided you have a reasonably musical ear, a sufficient hand span to reach the controls, and select an easier setting you should be able to enjoy it regardless of your gaming experience.
Older players may feel that playing this approximation of a guitar more embarrassing than even its big fake plastic brother on the consoles.
The game's song list manages to steer clear of any tracks that would accrue an explicit rating, although they are still unlikely to be familiar to very younger players.
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