'Aerosmith' and 'On Tour' join 'Guitar Hero' saga

Your fingers might still be numb from jamming along to Activision's Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock, but two new Guitar Hero games are now available.

The Bad Boys of Boston get their own video game in Guitar Hero: Aerosmith, the first in the popular music series to offer an interactive retrospective of the legendary rock group. Gamers on the go, however, can rock out with Guitar Hero: On Tour, which brings the popular franchise to the Nintendo DS — including a snap-in peripheral that mimics the plastic guitar used on the console version.

Both games work similarly to their predecessor: While listening to familiar rock songs, you must press the correct colored button at the right time to rack up points. If you play well, the virtual crowd cheers you, but if you hit too many sour notes, you might get booed offstage.

Here's a closer look at each.

'Guitar Hero: Aerosmith'

Join legendary singer Steven Tyler and drummer Joey Kramer onstage as guitarists Joe Perry, Brad Whitford or Tom Hamilton (on bass), and play through the band's early days at a high school and small clubs all the way up to sold-out stadiums.

By progressing through the game, you unlock new Aerosmith songs, ranging from '70s classics including Dream On,Back in the Saddle,Sweet Emotion and Kings and Queens to '80s and '90s hits, such as Let the Music do the Talking, Livin' on the Edge,Love in an Elevator and Rag Doll.

Handpicked by Aerosmith, songs from other bands in the game include Cheap Trick's Dream Police, Run DMC's King of Rock, The Cult's She Sells Sanctuary, Lenny Kravitz's Always on the Run and Stone Temple Pilot's Sex Type Thing.

Single-player options include Career and Quick Play, while four multiplayer modes offer various competitive and cooperative options — including Battle, where you face off against a friend and use "attacks" to try and mess up his or her performance.

In the game-play department, not much is different in Guitar Hero: Aerosmith compared with past Guitar Hero versions, therefore this disc can best be described as "Guitar Hero 3.5" rather than a whole new game. Plus, if you're not much of a fan of the band then you'd obviously want to pass on this disc.

'Guitar Hero: On Tour'

(For Nintendo DS; $49.99; rated Everyone 10+; 3 stars out of 5)

Guitar Hero is back and this time it's mobile.

With this version packaged with a "Guitar Grip" peripheral that snaps underneath the Nintendo DS system, you hold the game system like an instrument and strum along using a guitar pick-stylus hybrid (also included) on the bottom touch-screen.

As with other Guitar Hero games, you assume the role of an up-and-coming rock band and must work your way up from playing grungy clubs to packed arenas. While listening to the 25 or so songs, you must watch notes sail down the neck of a guitar and press the corresponding color at the right time, while also strumming.

A decent lineup of classic and contemporary rock hits are included, such as Blink 182's All The Small Things, No Doubt's Spiderwebs, Nirvana's Breed and Twisted Sister's We're Not Gonna Take It.

So, why the lukewarm score? Controlling the game feels awkward. Even when the Guitar Grip doesn't pop out of the cartridge slot while playing — and it likely will — wrapping your fingers around the four colored buttons feels strained.

If you can get used to it, though, along with a Career and Quick Play option, Guitar Hero: On Tour also offers cooperative play using a local wireless network and a fun head-to-head battle mode called Guitar Duel.

Contact Saltzman at gnstech@gns.gannett.com.

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