t looks like the DS is having a rhythm game renaissance, what with Rhythm Heaven, Elite Beat Agents, and KORG-DS 10 offering beat-friendly gamers a number of choices for their portable system. Seems odd, then, that the franchise that made all of this cool—Guitar Hero—has had two welcome-yet-bizarrely-obtuse entries on Nintendo’s prime moneymaker. The newest iteration on the series, Guitar Hero On Tour: Modern Hits, fixes some of the series’ niggling problems, but it’s still more Van Hagar than it is Van Halen. But hey, at least it’s not Whitesnake, right?
The changes to the core gameplay are immediately noticeable and welcome; the best example of this is the Quick Play option carried over from the game’s more-recent console predecessors. Instead of playing through the career mode to unlock everything (and inevitably hitting that infamous “Guitar Hero Wall” song that’s impossible to beat unless you have eight hands), the Quick Play mode lets you choose any song you want to play on any difficulty. This is a fantastic addition to the portable franchise, as it takes the work out of the endeavor for the player.
he career mode is vintage Guitar Hero, with you traveling to various venues, playing a set of songs, amassing fans, doing terrible and awful things to the venue’s green room, and moving on. Fan requests add a welcome dose of variety to the career; after you beat a song, three new challenges open up to tackle (Lead, Bass, and Duel). In addition to altering the note charts, these modes have Achievement-esque stipulations attached to them, such as strumming hammer-on and pull-off notes, hitting various note streaks, not using Star Power—some of which add yet another level of difficulty to an already challenging game. Unfortunately, these fan requests can’t be skipped, so in order to progress in the career mode you may have to replay a terrible song up to four times to proceed.
What tends to define rhythm games is the set list, and in this instance, Modern Hits is mostly that—hits. Standouts include Foo Fighters, Kaiser Chiefs, and Phantom Planet; head-scratchers like Evanescence and Sum 41 pop up just often enough to provide logical stopping points for long play sessions. As if these subtle tips are needed; Guitar Hero On Tour’s infamous peripheral, Ol’ Wristbreaker, still requires some wrangling to use properly (and mercy to those with big hands—take those ham hocks and run), but improvements to the strumming interface and touch screen sensitivity make this less of an obstacle.
s always with rhythm games, mileage will vary with respect to the set list, but those looking for an accessible and fun portable experience will find a lot to like in Modern Hits. Future iterations—ones with set lists that don’t abuse the definitions of both “modern” and “hits”—should be eagerly anticipated. Consider this an above-average opening act.
[!/mrface4.jpg "Mr. Face say this game GOOD. Mr. Face never wrong!")