Guitar Hero's Branches Turn to Twigs

by Mike Schiller

30 April 2008


A pile of the tracks that are going to be on the upcoming Guitar Hero: On Tour release for the Nintendo DS broke yesterday, and…well, look for yourself:

Do What You Want - OK Go
All The Small Things - Blink 182
Spiderwebs - No Doubt
Are You Gonna Be My Girl - Jet
We’re Not Gonna Take It - Twisted Sister
All Star - Smash Mouth
Breed - Nirvana
Jessie’s Girl - Rick Springfield
Hit Me With Your Best Shot - Pat Benatar
This Love - Maroon 5
Heaven - Los Lonely Boys
Helicopter - Bloc Party
China Grove - The Doobie Brothers
Rock and Roll All Nite - KISS (cover by Line 6)
What I Want - Daughtry

(Opinions and rants after the jump.)

A DS with the On Tour peripheral attached

A DS with the On Tour peripheral attached

I’m not sure if this makes me a music snob or a Guitar Hero snob, but there is precisely one exciting thing about that set of songs, and it is Nirvana’s “Breed”.  Finally, we get a Nirvana song that’s not one of the radio hits.  Otherwise…the only thing I could possibly point to as a redeeming quality of this setlist is that it may well grab the casual gamer.  These are the types of songs that make up the first three tiers of a typical console Guitar Hero game, and as selections from the introductory portions of a Guitar Hero game, they might not be bad.  “Jessie’s Girl” might be cheesy fun à la “Hit Me With Your Best Shot”, and “This Love” is a great song, though I seem to remember more piano in it than guitar.

Still, by the time you get to the end of a Guitar Hero game, you should be looking at the tracklist, thinking about the memorable solos in the tracks presented, and wondering how in hell the programmers were going to go about coding them.  Even if putting something on the level of “Through the Fire and Flames” onto a portable console might be overkill, something like “3s and 7s”, “Welcome to the Jungle”, or even a nod to the other Guitar Hero game coming out at the same time as On Tour would be appropriate.  Come on, “Eat the Rich” or “Sweet Emotion” would be kind of badass, right?  Really, what in this bunch is going to be the final trial?  “All Star”?  Even the mere fact that a few of these songs have already been done in previous iterations of the series is kind of disappointing, given the limited space afforded a DS cartridge.

Sometimes there is a fine line between awesome and depressing.

Sometimes there is a fine line between awesome and depressing.

What On Tour is starting to look like is yet another symptom of overkill bringing about the potential ruin of a great series.  When Activision ended up with the rights to the Guitar Hero license, they had something to prove, and apart from the silly boss fights of Guitar Hero III, they did just fine.  The third in the series is proving to have a rare sort of staying power, as players are actually finding themselves willing to stick around long enough to full-combo expert-level tracks (and then, in many cases, post them on YouTube).  Still, we now have Guitar Hero Mobile, Guitar Hero: On Tour, Guitar Hero: Aerosmith, the Guitar Hero Air Guitar Rocker, Guitar Hero: The Web Widget (not an official title, but it’s posted below)...

It seems that Activision isn’t entirely familiar with the phrase “Leave ‘em wanting more.”  If their treatment-thus-far of the Guitar Hero license is any indication, “Stuff it down their throat ‘til they choke on it” might be a better motto.  Here’s hoping we don’t turn blue before Guitar Hero IV arrives.

What do you think?  Do you like the tracklist-so-far for On Tour?  Are you still longing for more Guitar Hero?  Am I just going to recant all of this when the thing actually comes out?


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