Review: Guitar Rock Tour (DSiWare)

All the right notes, just not in the right order.

Guitar Rock Tour is a rerelease of the game of the same name we saw on Nintendo DS late last year. The game falls into the genre of games such as Guitar Hero and Rock Band, albeit on somewhat of a budget. There are fifteen tracks to tap along to and two modes of play over three levels of difficulty.

Both the original game and the Nintendo DSi release do not require any peripheral add-ons and therefore are played with the stylus or, in the case of the drums, with the shoulder buttons. This of course impinges on what makes some of the other games in the genre so much fun, however stylus input works reasonably well. Players familiar with this type of game will know the drill already - coloured “notes” descend down the bottom screen and the player is required to tap said notes in time with the beat.

As there are three difficulty levels available there is quite a lot of scope for meeting the needs of individual players, and for those who are musically challenged Easy mode really is very easy, at times almost mind-numbingly so. Medium difficulty should suit most players and Hard mode is understandably pretty challenging as many note combinations appear on screen at once. For making successful strings of notes players are rewarded with power ups that can increase the player’s score or wipe the screen of all notes.

There are two modes of play available: Quick Play and Career Mode. Quick Play is pretty self-explanatory: at the start of the game only two songs are available to be played in Quick Play, and the rest have to be unlocked by progressing through Career Mode. Career Mode has a simple back-story which involves the rise to fame of the player and his or her travels around different world venues, claiming fans in various cities such as Los Angeles and Tokyo. There are a few avatars to choose from for the main character, although a character creation option would have been nice. New tracks are introduced in each city in career mode and each stage requires progressively more tracks to be completed. Many tracks are repeated due to the game’s rather miniscule repertoire of songs and this is perhaps the game’s main fault – with only 15 songs to choose from the game can quickly become rather dull.

Throughout the game it is possible to unlock awards for completing various feats such as completing a 200-note streak. These awards are recorded in a special menu, although there is little incentive to gain these as other than the award itself no other extras are unlocked. Like past releases from Gameloft on Nintendo DSi the game makes some use of the DSi camera by asking the player to pose for magazine covers and press releases. While these photos have little purpose it’s a fun add on and Gameloft has to be applauded for trying to make use of the DSi hardware.

The visuals in the game are pretty decent and while the rendering of the game’s characters on the top screen isn't exactly crystal clear, due to the nature of the game the player is unlikely to be paying too much attention to them anyway. The menus are animated quite nicely and the cartoonish art style of the player and his band mates during “cut-scenes” is quite pleasing.

Perhaps the game’s main shortcoming is the most important factor in a game such as this: the music itself. Unlike the physical release of the game, the DSi version does not feature any vocals on any of the tracks, and making the in-game music feel somewhat like cheap karaoke tracks. Certain tracks don’t sound too bad but vocal intensive tracks sound pretty laughable when replaced by an off-key honky-tonk piano. The sheer lack of variety also makes the game become quickly repetitive, and before the end of Career Mode the player has pretty much heard all the game has to offer. On the other hand however, the three difficulty levels do give the game an extra level of depth and in this way tracks can be experienced again at different difficulty levels. The option to play songs either on guitar or drums also adds an extra element to the game, however the drums are quite frankly boring: with only three buttons to be pressed the player really isn’t challenged too hard.

Conclusion

Overall Guitar Rock Tour isn’t a bad attempt at emulating the feel of similar games in the genre, and for the asking price the game really is quite a bargain. For an hour or so the game is a good way to pass the time, but it’s unlikely that after this initial “honeymoon period” the player will go back looking for more than a 5 minute session. This is due to the lack of choice in music and indeed the rather cringy, scaled down representations of many popular songs.

For owners of similar games it’s perhaps best to stay clear of this as you can only be let down by the “bargain bucket” nature of the title. For first timers this may just be the perfect introduction to the genre and for a mere 500 points Gameloft is really just giving it away!

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