If the DS version of Guitar Hero did not come bundled with the Slot 2 Fret Board peripheral, it probably would have been something very similar to Guitar Rock Tour.
The first thing about this game that doesn’t really make sense is the title. Playing guitar is one aspect of this game, but the player also has the ability to play some virtual drums. In many ways, this sells the game short. Only until you read the back of the box art does the company disclose that drums are also a part of this game. If this is a dominate feature of the game, shouldn’t it stand out right from the get go?
Using the stylus or buttons, the player will jam through a set list composed of a little more than a dozen songs. Songs like Beat It, Message In A Bottle, Smoke on the Water, and If Everyone Cared, are rock songs that any rock and roller will immediately recognize, but it is ultimately disappointing that these are not the officially licensed tracks. Instead, every single tune on this cart has been re-recorded by the developer’s audio team. To make matters even worse, the game does not even tell you who the original artist is. Even the first versions of Guitar Hero on PS2 stated the “as made famous by” before each song was played. And does a Rock You Like a Hurricane fan really want to play a song like Girlfriend? Just about all of the songs in this game are playable on other guitar based video games too.
As the audio department is a little lacking, the gameplay remains average at best. Instead of holding fret buttons with the attached add-on in the DS version of Guitar Hero, the player has the option to use either the stylus or d-pad when playing the drums and stylus when playing guitar. When using the stylus to play the guitar, the player must tap each falling note when it reaches the bottom of the screen. This game has six playable notes instead of the five buttons of Guitar Hero and Rock Band, having a slightly more realistic approach. Playing two notes that are very close to each other is performed by sliding the stylus from one to the other. For the most part it works and is challenging on higher difficultly settings.
Drums, on the other hand, require more thought and concentration than guitar no matter which control setting is chosen. Using the stylus is too slow because the touch screen buttons are placed way too far apart and the face buttons are an awkward mix of using the d-pad in combination with the A,B,X,Y buttons. Playing drums is the weakest part of this game…perhaps that is why it was omitted from the title.
In Guitar Hero, the player had the option to play any song from a five song set list. Once each song was completed, five new ones would become unlocked. In Guitar Rock Tour, only two songs are unlocked at time, putting a tighter restriction on the player. Luckily, the songs’ unlockable order is different for guitar and drums, so players might find themselves switching instruments early on just to hear some different tracks.
The game’s different difficulty settings will keep the challenge at the right pace for the player. Taking a note from other music games, Superstar Mode will increase your score while the Pyro effect will eliminate all the notes on screen at the time of activation. The rock meter on the side of the screen will let you know how well you are doing. Co-op and competive play are also available through multicard link. Basically, all the features of Guitar Hero are in this game as well, just modified new names and slight tweaks.
The visual quality is an expected experience. Characters are detailed enough for a DS game, but it might have been cooler to throw in some music video-like effects that Rock Band is known for. And any music game is best played with headphones.
It is very hard not to compare Guitar Rock Tour to Guitar Hero and Rock Band. It is obvious that the developers did not have the budget that these other heavy hitters do, but Guitar Rock Tour is a decent attempt to cash in the current music game trend. But for the price of a full retail DS game, $29.99, it is harder to justify spending this amount when the player is getting less content and remixes of all the songs. It is not that this game is bad, it is just a little harder to justify a purchase when Guitar Hero does so much more.