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Joystiq impressions: Guitar Hero: On Tour (DS)

Zack Stern

Activision and Nintendo briefly demonstrated Guitar Hero: On Tour at last week's Nintendo Media Summit. As previously announced, the portable rhythm game includes a four-fret controller that slips into the DS GBA slot. A stylus shaped like a guitar pick can be stored inside and pulled out for portable rocking.

Guitar Hero: On Tour includes the same kind of career mode and single-song play as Guitar Hero III; many of the portable songs also overlap with other versions of the game. But 20 new tracks, a few control twists, and a new versus mode should make it more than Guitar Hero Lite.

Gallery: Guitar Hero: On Tour (DS) | 13 Photos

Players work the four frets in either left- or right-hand mode, and strum on the DS screen to play notes. An on-screen whammy bar activates sustain effects, or gamers can just hold the stylus down after picking for the same results. Like a real rock-star, players activate Star Power by yelling at the DS. We recommend phrases like "I only eat green M&Ms," or "Hello, Cleveland!" If you're already geeking out enough playing this game in public, we don't know why you'd be too self-conscious to yell, but an on-screen icon also activates that bonus if you want to be discreet.

A new duel system tops the multiplayer modes. With a local, direct wireless connection, two players compete to turn in the best performance, although they also earn power-ups to harass each other. Try to screw up your friend with a camera flash, brightly popping the screen to white; or send groupies over who demand autographs, covering up the strum area until you sign a T-shirt. Other distractions force an opponent to restring a guitar, ramp up their difficulty, or overload their amp momentarily so the audio cuts out. Your guitar might even catch on fire, forcing you to blow on the mic to put it out.

The duel mode and complete port of other major points of the game make this version of Guitar Hero worth watching. Look for it in June.

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