Band Hero for the Nintendo DS features the ability to play the same instruments as the console-based versions. Though the game is compatible with the DS, DS Lite, and DSi, only players on the DS Lite will receive the "full band" experience due to the nature of the hardware extensions for the unit.
Guitar and bass parts are played with the same "Guitar Grip" previously created for the Guitar Hero: On Tour series, though this unit will not work on the Nintendo DSi and Nintendo 3DS due to lack of a GBA slot. The gameplay for guitar and bass is considered to be the fourth iteration of the Guitar Hero On Tour design by developers Vicarious Visions, and have further improvements to meet with different strumming styles.
A new "drum skin" that fits over the bottom half of the DS unit provides four "pads" for drumming that map to the unit's directional pad and face buttons; this design was selected over use of the touch screen due to the inability of the touch screen to recognize near-simultaneous taps, a factor that would have interfered with the drumming experience. The drum skin is limited to the Nintendo DS Lite due to the skin's form factor. The decision to design towards the DS Lite rather than the newer DSi was due to the much larger volume of DS Lite units that have been sold relative to the DSi.
The DS microphone is used for vocal parts. The DS has 30 of the songs from console versions. The game also supports up to four player multiplayer in a similar manner as Guitar Hero 5 using the DS's local wireless connections, allowing any combination of instruments.