Guitar Hero On Tour: Decades
Reviewed by Didi Cardoso
Review Date Platform Genre Rating Production
2008-12-04 Nintendo DS Music/Rhythm T (Teen) Activision / RedOctane

It doesn't seem that long ago that I played Guitar Hero On Tour and found myself pleasantly surprised at how it worked out on the DS. Therefore, Decades was a more than welcome addition to my games collection, and a quite nice trip back in time as well.

Guitar Hero On Tour: Decades can be purchased as software only, while the bundle includes the same contents as its predecessor: game cartridge in a plastic case, guitar grip, an adaptor for the original DS, a guitar pick stylus, a skin for the grip, and more funky little stickers that you can use to decorate your DS with.

Holding the DS sideways, you place your fingers on the fret buttons and hold the pick with your other hand to strum on the touch screen. To strum, you press down the respective fret button and slide the stylus across the guitar strings on the touch screen. To activate star power, you can either yell "Rock out! at the microphone (as suggested), tap the star meter or press one of the A-B-X-Y buttons.

The gameplay is the exact same, with the usual difficuty modes: Easy, Medium, Hard and Expert. What Decades does differently begins by letting you play as lead guitar, bass/rhythm guitar.

I was expecting to find a character creation option, but that's not the case. However, in addition to the characters from the original On Tour, two new ones join the ranks: Midori representing J-Rock and Clive for Classic Rock.

The game will take you back in time, starting with a set of modern age tunes and going back every 10 years to hits from the early 2000s, 90s, 80s and 70s. As you enter each venue, you are given an introduction by the manager responsible for it, an overview of the music genre that was popular during that decade and there's even some background story for each tune. It's not just a musical experience but a learning experience as well - there is quite a bit to read if you feel like going through all the text.

As for the track list, it figures that I don't know much until I get to the 80's (I am stuck in the 80's as far as my musical tastes go...). Still, I shook my head to the beats of Bon Jovi's "You Give Love A Bad Name", sang along with The Darkness in "I Believe In A Thing Called Love" and Los Lobos' "La Bamba" and nearly bounced around like a little schoolgirl when Journey's "Any Way You Want It" showed up on the screen.

Multiplayer modes remain the same. You can join or host a game in Face-Off, Pro Face-Off, Co-Op or Duel. Duels can also be played solo, against one of the game's characters. By hitting all the notes in a certain combo, you get special attacks to use on your opponent instead of Star Power. The attacks include screen flip, muted music, bomb notes that you can't touch, speeding up the notes, setting the screen on fire and sending fans in with odd objects for autographs. The new multiplayer feature in Decades is song sharing. This means you can import the song list from the previous game and increase your current library.

Again, it's no easy feat to play portable Guitar Hero. The fret button adaptor still makes the system heavy and will tire your hand quickly. If you're the kind who likes long play sessions be warned, pain will occur. Guitar Hero On Tour is best played in short bursts just because of that, or if you're anything like me and are always looking for the most comfortable way to do whatever, just sit back comfortably and rest your wrist and the DS on your thigh.

Still, I was really pleased this time around for one very specific reason: the quality of the songs. There are no covers to be found, no "as made famous by", only the original tunes performed by their original groups. Now if only all Guitar Hero titles would follow the same rule...

Special thanks to Karen Fujimoto, RedOctane and Activision for providing a copy of this title.