You can play On Tour
using the DS stylus, but there's really no reason to -- the grip includes (and stores) a special pick-shaped stylus that felt really great in our fingers. Having gotten a grip on the hardware setup, we were ready to rock out.
The left screen displays the recognizable Guitar Hero
virtual guitar neck in front of polygonal rockers that look alright (not as detailed as, say, the Elite Beat Agents
), especially considering you're not really looking at them all that much. Note icons, of course, stream towards the "pick point" and, once they hit, we strummed away with a swiping motion on the right (touch) screen. That screen is laid out so you can easily see the virtual guitar with whammy bar (it's nice and easy to strum right into using the bar, too) along with the Star Power gauge, point counter, and multiplier number.
Deploying power-ups in versus mode
Strumming felt great -- it isn't velocity sensitive of anything like that, but it is accurate. We even tested to make sure you couldn't just tap the screen to register a strum; you can't.
Star Power is "deployed" in one of three ways. Firstly, you can say something into the DS's built-in microphone -- that would explain the folks shouting around us. If you're not into public embarrassment, you can touch the Star Power gauge with the pick, or, in a trickier move, press a face button on the DS. We think the vocal trigger is the best way, and is pretty unique. Just be prepared to draw some odd glances.
"On Tour is packing an arena's worth of true Guitar Hero gameplay on a stamp-sized game card."
The game is otherwise structured just like the console titles, with four tiers of four songs plus an encore for each. The audio quality isn't as nice as listening to an MP3, but it's good and without any noticeable warble. All 20-plus tracks (85% of which as master tracks, according to Vicarious Visions) are new, having never appeared in any previous Guitar Hero
After rocking out to 10 songs in single player, we wrapped up our tour of On Tour
with some multiplayer against other journos. The gameplay was based around not only out-scoring opponents, but also by using power-ups to screw with them.
They say "big things come in small packages," and from what we played of it, On Tour
is packing an arena's worth of true Guitar Hero
gameplay on a stamp-sized game card. It, quite simply, rocked.
Check out Activision's Family Album to learn more about the company's internal studios.