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UK freelance journalist and author Sean McManus

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Nintendo News: Korg DS-10 and Guitar Hero

05 August 2008

I've read a few reviews online of Guitar Hero on Tour and the new Korg DS-10 synthesizer for the DS, and there have been several uncertainties, which I can clear up.

Guitar Hero on Tour for the DS is great, first of all. The medium difficulty level is perhaps not challenging enough - I've only got through the first 12 or so songs, but I've completed them all on the first attempt. The hard level is a whole league more difficult, so the game levels aren't quite pitched right. But gameplay feels natural and the songs I've played so far are all good fun. I was surprised that I did know some of the songs although I didn't recognise them from the titles in the song list. The fret buttons plug into the GBA socket. One review I read said that it keeps falling out and is too small for adult fans, but when the support strap is properly tightened, I've had no problems at all and the buttons are the right size for my grown-up fingers. Playing with two hands (the other hand strums on the touch screen with the plectrum provided) feels natural and more engaging than simple two-handed button-based gameplay. If you've enjoyed the previous incarnations of the game, this feels like a home from home. If not, it's as good a place as any to start.

Secondly, Korg DS-10 does indeed support English by default. In fact, it doesn't appear to support any other languages. It's only available in Japan at the moment, and reportedly only available through Amazon in Japan, which is making it quite expensive to import. The manual is only in Japanese, but you should be able to muddle through okay - I've had no problems understanding the basics of the interface, although I still need to work out how to use the sequencer. So if you're up for some DS music making, you can import it with confidence. I previously previewed the Korg DS-10 here.

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I read a review that said Guitar Hero really cramped up your fingers after half an hour or so of play. I'm not sure it would attract my attention for that long!
I've been playing some great DS games - Hotel Dusk: Room 215 is a well-written interactive detective novel, kind of like a grown-up Phoenix Wright meets point-and-click escape game, with a witty script. The illustrated characters look like they came out of A-ha's Take on Me clip, with a rotoscope style. I also bought a US import of a game called Professor Layton and the Curious Village. Interspersed with the whimsical "Belleville Rendezvous" style animation (and Dickensian voices) is a cute adventure story with about 132 different puzzles - mathematical, logical etc- to solve in between. After you finish the game, you download new puzzles every week to your DS!
I've also played the second Phoenix Wright and am on to the third, then there's Apollo Justice after that. I hear there's a Miles Edgeworth game in the works!
Hi Kim. I tend to pop in and out of games to be honest, so half an hour is about as long as I've played anything in a stretch.

I'm working my way through Trace Memory at the moment, with Phoenix Wright 2 lined up behind it. I think story games are best played one at a time, like reading novels, otherwise you lose momentum.

Thanks for those recommendation of other interactive stories - I think the point and click adventure is a great format for storytelling and gaming.
You can get Korg DS-10 from playasia.com. It looks like there's going to be a US release in October.
Thanks for clarifying that, John - I got my copy on ebay from someone who had presumably bought it on Amazon Japan first, and copies are available through Play Asia too and probably from other places too. The advantage of the US release will be having an English manual and hopefully a lower retail price than the import cost.
More good news. Apparently there will be a European release:


I'm not sure what they mean by their "probably only in Germany" comment. I think it's a poor joke about Germans liking techno...
That's good news. I'll be interested to see what price they set over here. Unless you're in the studio now it's probably worth waiting until October with the international releases now confirmed.
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