'Guitar Hero III Mobile' comes to AT&T

The mobile version of the dramatically popular console game comes to AT&T phones, with a few upgrades.

Article updated 2/29/08 to correct headquarters location.

We were stoked when Hands-On Mobile, a San Francisco mobile games company, announced Guitar Hero III Mobile for Verizon. On Friday, AT&T brings the portable version of the wildly popular console game to J2ME phones.

The game is expected to launch on 30 handsets today, including Motorola V3 RAZR and Sony Ericcson 810, with more handsets joining the fray. The staggered launch means there's no guaranteeing that your handset will be supported when the game goes live today, but Hands-On Mobile suggests that eager phone gamers check back with AT&T throughout the day and Saturday.

Guitar Hero III Mobile on AT&T

There's good reason to make haste. Guitar Hero III Mobile dethroned Tetris in mobile gaming on Verizon, a miraculous feat, by offering three popular songs per month taken straight from Activision's console game. Users who subscribe by March 1 will receive the standard start-up song package and also the month's playlist, including Lynyrd Skynyrd's 'Freebird', Black Sabbath's 'War Pigs', and Iggy Pop's 'Search and Destroy'. Dilly-dalliers who subscribe after March 1 will have to wait for April to get any bonus song releases.

Membership on AT&T-supported phones has other benefits, too. The Java platform has allowed for certain upgrades to the BREW version of the game currently out on Verizon phones. The graphics are slightly larger and clearer, and Hands-On Mobile has added a haptic dimension to a missed note: the phone vibrates in response to butter fingers.

In another welcome change, songs will now live on AT&T phones, saving users from having to download them anew. Sorry, Verizon users, you shouldn't expect any alterations to your version yet.

What the J2ME platform gains in graphical quality, it loses, slightly, in audio power. Songs on Guitar Hero III Mobile for Verizon play MP3s; while AT&T's version streams out MIDI.

Be sure to catch Guitar Hero III Mobile in action in this video, taken on a Verizon phone.

About Jessica Dolcourt

Jessica Dolcourt reviews smartphones and cell phones, covers handset news, and pens the monthly column Smartphones Unlocked. A senior editor, she started at CNET in 2006 and spent four years reviewing mobile and desktop software before taking on devices.