Editor’s Note: As some of you know, I’m on staff as a game reviewer for the electronic entertainment site, Avault.com. I intend to publish all of my reviews on these pages to insure I have a full record of everything I’ve written. If you haven’t read this before, enjoy!!!
Slander suit be damned, I’m going to launch this review with an earth-shattering revelation. We’re talking Da Vinci Code, faked-moon landing, Milli Vanilli levels of conspiracy paranoia here. I am utterly convinced that tween rocker Hannah Montana (star of Disney’s ‘reality show’ of the same name) and Miley Cyrus, Achy Breaky’s brat, are one in the same. After all, I’ve never seen them in the same place at the same time. While we’re on the topic of conspiracy theories, I am utterly convinced that my editors have installed a covert WebCam in my home and assigned this title to me just so they could catch me lip-synching alongside Crowley Corners’ celeb crooner in the hopes that the video of a 36-year old dude busting out The Climb would become the next hot Web sensation.
Hannah Montana The Movie game releases alongside its cinematic namesake. Rather than offer a straight music title, along the lines of Karaoke Revolution, Disney Interactive has developed an adventure title that puts players in Hannah Montana’s shoes as she interacts with the clueless inhabitants of Crowley’s Corners, Tennessee – who have fallen for Hannah’s Clark Kent act for far too long. The title has Hannah’s down home alter-ego, Miley Stewart, working to save her town by interacting with the NPCs that dot the town and engaging in a series of mini-games and fetch quests designed to drive the story. In addition to the plot progression, players can take their time and perform little side quests that provide them with the means to customize Miley/Hannah’s wardrobes. The player can also interact with Miley’s beloved horse Blue Jeans – with minigames tied to feeding and riding the pretty pony.
Throughout the game, the player will break from the adventure elements to perform musical numbers. Some of these are integrated into the plot while others arrive as dream sequences, where Miley melds with her Hannah Montana alter-ego. These sequences are similar to other rhythm titles, such as Dance Dance Revolution, with the player matching a command that appears on screen in order to create a fluid, musical performance. As Hannah works her way across the stage, she will occasionally get close to a band member which spawns an instrument-specific minigame.
This title exhibits one fatal flaw that drags the entire enterprise crashing down. Instead of designing a straight karaoke game, which I assume the target audience would go crazy for, the developers shoehorn rhythm-based music sequences within the confines of a dull adventure tale. The instrumental minigames use the fundamentals seen in titles like Guitar Hero and Rock Band with one key difference – instead of using a cool peripheral that expertly mimics the onscreen actions, the player is simply mashing buttons in time with the beat. Even more peculiar is the handling of vocal tracks. What would have been a perfect opportunity to implement karaoke via USB microphone is handled exactly the same as the instrumentals. Players hit a button on queue, prompting Hannah/Miley to lip synch the lyrics. Little girls would get more satisfaction singing into a hair brush.
The adventure element – which dominates 75% of the thankfully brief 5-hour playtime – is completely neutered. Players are provided monotonous, mundane tasks along the lines of “Find NPC X and give her Y and then return to me for another boring errand”. This continues throughout the game with brief excursions to bolster your wardrobe or bond with Blue Jeans the horse. The quests remain the same, with each offering slight nuggets of plot development. Boredom sets in very quickly. Adding to the lethargy is the poorly animated character models who move at a snail’s pace, thus stretching the most simple of fetch quests to agonizing lengths as you wait for Miley to amble across town to pickup another basket of biscuits for the town picnic.
My playtime with Hannah Montana The Movie didn’t offer enough conclusive evidence to prove if the singer and that sweet Southern gal are the same person but it did offer ample intel to ward me off ever playing this game again. This title is obviously aimed at the tween crowd and it completely misses the mark by offering a lukewarm adventure title versus the Karaoke compilation that would really hit home with them. The developers were aiming for ‘The Best of Both Worlds’ when they jammed the adventure genre with a rhythm game but end up failing completely with two underwhelming modes that never mesh and overly frustrate and bore. Now that this mystery is behind me, and thankfully my playtime with the game is over, it’s time for me to work on some more true Hollywood revelations. For instance – Jake and Maggie Gyllenhall. Real life bro and sis or is there some Hannah Montana mumbo jumbo going on there as well? Stay tuned and keep watching the skies.