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Guitar Hero On Tour: Decades Review

Pretending at pretending just isn't what it should be...

It is, perhaps, a blessing that Nintendo's new DSi handheld lacks a GBA cartridge slot, thus rendering the whole Guitar Hero: On Tour series obsolete - perhaps it'll convince people to stop procrastinating and just buy a real Guitar Hero game instead.

Sure, we can appreciate what the handheld version of Guitar Hero is trying to do but for us, pretending to pretend to play guitar (which is what you do in On Tour) just doesn't cut it when there's only one degree of pretence in the 'proper' version. And don't give us the argument that it's a reasonable compromise for those who can't afford the full console game either. That's like saying that a tin of Spam is a decent replacement for a fat, juicy steak. Just because it's cheaper, that doesn't make it taste any better.

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Not that any such concerns have stopped Activision from busting out Guitar Hero: On Tour - Decades, a game that does so little over and above what the last On Tour game did, it should be called a track pack rather than a full-blown sequel. What you've essentially got here are 28 new tunes to play through, many of which have been ripped straight from the setlist of Guitar Hero: World Tour and, rather surprisingly, many of which aren't the pop fluff that constituted half the songs in the last On Tour.

The Rock Of Ages

Placing a more even-handed focus on how the decades are represented, you're now invited to play through each period as its own themed gig featuring five songs a-piece. Sadly, it all gets off to a sour note by starting with the modern era - Paramore and Tokio Hotel can take their business elsewhere. On the plus side, that naturally just means the game gets better as you progress. Give enough time to the Career mode, which isn't hard considering completing it only takes a few hours, and you'll soon find a few songs that are so wonderfully kitsch and anthemic, it'll be hard to not sing along with the tunes... providing you know the words, as we do, of course.

To be blunt, this is the only part of Decades - or, indeed, any Guitar Hero game - that really matters. Activision can bang on about the new characters and all-new venues all it likes, but we wouldn't care if all the tracks were performed by a toothless tramp standing

in a skip so long as they rocked hard enough. The problem is though, all the great songs in the world can't fix the other more critical issues that Decades has. And what's worse, they're exactly the same issues we had with the last game.

For instance, it still hurts to play it for any length of time thanks to the harsh dynamics of how the game uses the grip controller. It's amusing that even Activision acknowledges this by suggesting other ways of holding the DS during the game's start-up, but such humour didn't stop our wrists from cramping.

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There are still some serious issues with the touch screen either failing to register your strummed notes or performing double strums which effectively wipe out your combo score meter. And bar the addition of a Bass/Rhythm career on top of the usual Lead Guitar and Guitar Duel Career modes, there's nothing here that the last On Tour didn't do. A few subtle tweaks to the visual interface here, a couple of power-up adjustments to the Guitar Duels there and you're done. In terms of advancing the series, it's positively dwarfed by the improvements made by World Tour on the Wii.

Hotel Cali-bore-nia

Ultimately though, it's all about perspective. Did we have fun for the three scant hours that it took us to play through the Career mode and unlock all the available songs? To a degree, yes, if only because the songs found towards the end are perfect examples of what Guitar Hero should be all about. Would we pay £30 for the privilege and be caught playing it in public though? Good lord, no. Regardless of how much polish Decades has over its predecessor, the fact remains that the DS game will never be more than a simulation of a simulation; a short-term novelty that just makes you wish you were playing the real Guitar Hero games instead. Unless you don't own anything other than a DS and can't bear to miss out on the phenomenon, there's really no good reason to get this.

Comments

34 comments so far...
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  1. Cinaclov Thursday 13th Nov 2008 at 17:21

    You put "still painful to play" as a positive at the end... XD

  2. Cinaclov Thursday 13th Nov 2008 at 17:24

    You put "still painful to play" as a positive at the end... XD

  3. SteveMega Thursday 13th Nov 2008 at 17:28

    Bahahahahaha!

    By real Guitar Hero game I hope you mean 1 or 2. :)

  4. Wii_Will_Rock_U Thursday 13th Nov 2008 at 17:29

    I'm actually pretty sad the series will be obsolete, seeing as it's either get a decent game or a better game, but pay Ł160 to play the "proper" game that requires you to stand around in front of a TV instead of being able to take it on the road.

  5. ultimate-k Thursday 13th Nov 2008 at 17:29

    Is painful to play ment to be a -? :? I have played on my sister's GHOT and a find it playable for 5 mins and then it is unplayable, I rather just use the buttons on the ds and have an enjoyable game.

  6. hpmad910 Thursday 13th Nov 2008 at 17:30

    i'm gettin' this i loved the first one and i can't wait till it comes out

    I got the last one on release!

  7. random_guy_14 Thursday 13th Nov 2008 at 17:34

    The fact that it still hurts your wrists is a positive? :P

  8. noodle link Thursday 13th Nov 2008 at 17:43

    yay, you guys have come to your senses! on tour sucks.

  9. super_chris Thursday 13th Nov 2008 at 17:43

    The fact that it still hurts your wrists is a positive? :P

    Yer, I saw that as well. Kinda thing Yubel would do.

    As for your review, I have the game. It is good, better than the first tbh. Can't see how it didn't get up in the 80's.

  10. wilfer 11 Thursday 13th Nov 2008 at 18:14

    I'm on the first page

  11. SteveMega Thursday 13th Nov 2008 at 18:24

    I'm on the first page


    Are you?

  12. Mama Luigi Thursday 13th Nov 2008 at 18:51

    Guitar Hero is terrible. End of.

  13. AMthedude Thursday 13th Nov 2008 at 18:57

    Can I just say that despite all the hate it seems to be getting, I loved the first game and will get this as soon as possible. I never found playing it to be very uncomfortable (once I found a good way to hold the DS) and now that it has a better track listing I guess I'll like this one even more!

  14. nintendood Thursday 13th Nov 2008 at 19:58

    'Still not real enough' as one of the down points? The only way they could make it more real would be to attach the DS onto a big full sized plastic controller, which would make it unportable. Even then, rocking out on fake plastic instruments was never very real anyway...

  15. adamwalker222 Thursday 13th Nov 2008 at 20:04

    Track list is ace?

    What is the full track list?

  16. Super_Sonic96 Thursday 13th Nov 2008 at 20:04

    It looks just like the original.

  17. yosho Thursday 13th Nov 2008 at 20:57

    Didnt the old game get 76% too, despite the saying the new game was better. Im confused??? :?

  18. mcr fan92 Thursday 13th Nov 2008 at 21:13


    • Alien Ant Farm - "Smooth Criminal"
    • The All-American Rejects - "Dirty Little Secret"

    • Blind Melon - "No Rain"
    • Blondie - "One Way Or Another"
    • Bon Jovi - "You Give Love A Bad Name"
    • Boston - "Rock and Roll Band"
    • The Darkness - "I Believe In A Thing Called Love"

    • Edgar Winter Group - "Free Ride"
    • Fall Out Boy - "The Take Over, The Breaks Over"
    • Foo Fighters - "The Pretender"

    • Free - "All Right Now"
    • Jimmy Eat World - "The Middle"
    • Joe Satriani - "Satch Boogie"
    • Journey - "Any Way You Want It"
    • Lenny Kravitz - "Are You Gonna Go My Way"
    • Linkin Park - "One Step Closer"
    • Los Lobos - "La Bamba"
    • Lynyrd Skynyrd - "Sweet Home Alabama (live)"
    • Paramore - "Crushcrushcrush"
    • Queen - "We Are The Champions"

    • R.E.M. - "The One I Love"
    • Red Hot Chili Peppers - "Can't Stop"
    • Sammy Hagar - "I Can't Drive 55"
    • Seether - "Remedy"
    • Smashing Pumpkins - "Tarantula"
    • Stone Temple Pilots - "Down"
    • Veruca Salt - "Volcano Girls"
    • Weezer - "Buddy Holly"

    That is actually quite an awesome track list. I've took the liberty of highlighting the awesomest songs :D

  19. Icarus_Kid Thursday 13th Nov 2008 at 21:14

    The fact that it still hurts your wrists is a positive? :P

    Yer, I saw that as well. Kinda thing Yubel would do.

    I don't like you.

  20. catscan93 Thursday 13th Nov 2008 at 21:19

    the reason its so rubbish, is because they started making it a week after the first one was released.

    No time for tweaking or feedback, just straight into the sequel. one of the worst choices in gamign what so ever.

    Guitar Hero is terrible. End of.

    Indeed it is.

  21. xevilpunkx Friday 14th Nov 2008 at 13:20

    I didn't realise it was released yet, what a nice surprice! I loved the first one, though it can't beat the home console versions, but it's got it's charm!

    Painful!? :roll:
    The first times I played the original "On Tour" it did hurt indeed after 10 minutes, but I don't feel it anymore when I play now, even when I play longer sessions.

  22. random_guy_14 Friday 14th Nov 2008 at 17:19

    The fact that it still hurts your wrists is a positive? :P

    Yer, I saw that as well. Kinda thing Yubel would do.

    I don't like you.

    Why is that?

  23. Yellowtail Friday 14th Nov 2008 at 18:16

    You say it's not real enough? Not to argue, but obviously you consider SSBB realistic?

  24. Ryu5 Friday 14th Nov 2008 at 18:37

    You say it's not real enough? Not to argue, but obviously you consider SSBB realistic?

    HE MEANS NOT REAL ENOUGH COMPARED TO THE GUITAR HEROES ON THE CONSOLES DUMBASS.

  25. Dana_ava Friday 14th Nov 2008 at 21:14

    I like the idea of guitar hero on the ds. Sure it dunt play like the other games but it's not bad for something you can take on the road. The set list on the other game was kinda crappy tbh but decades looks a hell of a lot better :D

    The only bad thing i found about the on tour game besides the hand cramp is that it's way 2 easy but for a guitar hero game minus the orange button it's not 2 bad

    Definatley on my chistmas list :P

  26. Hotblack Desiato Friday 14th Nov 2008 at 23:08

    The whole review is soooo negative, yet you give it a very high score? What the hell?

  27. jct Saturday 15th Nov 2008 at 16:10

    I have to say, I'd look like a prat playing this in public. They'd look at yopu clutching a little grip thingy in your DS, and strumming the touch screen... -SHUDDER- God that's embarrassing. Well, it woulkd be embarrassing, as I don't know what it's like.

    Long story short, I won't be getting this.

  28. stusaysyes Saturday 15th Nov 2008 at 16:38

    it hurts my neck more than my wrist but it is fun after 30mins of changing face plates and trying to fix the strap i broke it was a good laugh

  29. Charlie96 Sunday 16th Nov 2008 at 10:54

    Should I buy this guitar Hero? I didn't buy the first one, but this one looks better:)

  30. stusaysyes Sunday 16th Nov 2008 at 22:25

    yes i would i find it better than the console versions

  31. My name is Earl Tuesday 18th Nov 2008 at 21:34

    Wont this game be useless when the dsi comes out as it doesn't have a gba slot for the frets

  32. MPWSnomi Saturday 22nd Nov 2008 at 11:34

    Wont this game be useless when the dsi comes out as it doesn't have a gba slot for the frets


    yeah....but thats ages away.

  33. heartless236 Saturday 22nd Nov 2008 at 19:04

    i bought guitar hero on tour when i went to america and when i got back to the hotel to play it for a little while i was disappointed with it because it lacks the entertainment that a normal guitar hero game has and plus my wrist didn't half bloody hurt after playing so this game is going to be just as crappy and im glad that nintendo are bringing out the DSi.

    dont buy this game get world tour on the wii

  34. sonicfever Saturday 23rd Jan 2010 at 14:57

    I think you guys were really harsh with this review. My brother bought the game last week, and judging by your review I was all set to laugh at him. But when I had a go it was a great game, and really fun.

    OK, so it only has four buttons, but apart from that, I really dont see any problem with it. It's cheaper, and you can play it on the go. I would have given it 85%.

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