Parents' Choice Foundation: Reviewing Children's Media Since 1978

Guitar Hero On Tour: Decades

Guitar Hero On Tour: Decades

Spring 2009 Video Games
Ages: 10 & Up
Price: $49.99
Gaming System: Nintendo DS
Forcing the hugely popular console videogame series Guitar Hero into the pint-sized Nintendo DS format is a little like trying to shove a bowling ball into a jewelry box. The packaging is pretty, the content is solid as a rock, but the concept is flawed.

Start with the equipment: Like the big-screen console version, the DS Guitar Hero lets players simulate being in a rock band playing lead guitar or bass/rhythm guitar. Cool, right? But, ergonomically speaking, not so cool as playing the console version's nearly-full-sized guitar-like controllers. Here, you connect an add-on device called the "Guitar Grip" with four (instead of five) color-coded fret buttons to your Nintendo DS player's GameBoy Advance port. Then, holding the DS player, with Grip attached, like an open book, you've got one hand strapped behind to push fret buttons as song notes scroll down the "Note Highway" on the one screen. At the same time, you "strum" the other screen, the touch screen, with the included pick-shaped stylus. All this is sort of odd and uncomfortable.

Another issue is sound quality. If you're buying this DS version, expect it to be no more than an amusing, portable take on the real-deal console Guitar Hero. Fact is, while this sound is okay, though perhaps a tiny bit tinny at times, you simply can't get great sound out of a handheld device.

All that said, here's the good news for those of you who just want this for mobility or whatever other reasons. This version does reflect some of the appeal and great fun of the Guitar Hero franchise. The 28 songs are all originals, not covers, and they span five decades of rock 'n' roll-from Lynyrd Skynyrd's "Sweet Home Alabama" and Foo Fighter's "The Pretender" to alt tunes such as Paramore's "Crushcrushcrush" and The All-American Rejects' "Dirty Little Secret."

Same modes are also available-from single player to a sweet multi-player, from duel mode to career. And, there are several difficulty levels, so learning isn't so painful. Without comparing to the console version, this is a fun little game. No, it's not like playing a pseudo guitar. But it is sort of like playing in the band.

Don Oldenburg   ©2009 Parents' Choice
A former feature writer and consumer columnist at The Washington Post for 22 years, Don Oldenburg is the Director of Publications and Editor of the National Italian American Foundation, in Washington, D.C. He regularly reviews books for USA Today and is the coauthor of "The Washington DC-Baltimore Dog Lovers Companion" (Avalon Travel). The proud father of three sons, he lives with his journalist-author wife, Ann Oldenburg, in McLean, VA.

Look for this product at:
Activision, Inc.
Major, Specialty & Online Retailers

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