When you think of a Hannah Montana game, what immediately comes to mind? I assume most gamers will think "karaoke game," because that would make the most sense. After all, Hannah Montana fans want to sing along with their idol and enjoy the music of Disney's massive franchise that stars Miley Cyrus. But Hannah Montana: The Movie, a licensed number loosely based off its silver screen counterpart, is not a karaoke game. It's a strange adventure game with poorly implemented rhythm elements that just don't work.
As a young country girl with a secret pop star identity, players are tasked with helping Miley Stewart save her hometown of Crowley Corners, Tennessee, while occasionally performing as her alter ego, Hannah Montana, or just performing in a dream sequence. Seeing as how Miley has two lives to live, the game -- logically -- can be broken up into two parts. Most of your time with the Hannah Montana game will be spent as Miley, wandering around Crowley Corners and buying clothes, playing a few mini-games and riding Blue Jeans, the family horse. The other main gameplay feature is performing as Hannah, which involves following a series of on-screen prompts while a song from the franchise plays in the background.
Amazing gameplay clips?
This entire affair would have been much easier to grasp and -- I assume -- much easier to design had it been a karaoke game. Instead, players are subjected to the most inane, slow-paced fetch quests that I've ever experienced. In one particular point in the game, I was told by an NPC to talk with one of the townspeople. I walked over to her, had a quick chat, and then was told to walk back to the original NPC again. After that pointless excursion, I was tasked with doing even more pointless things which not only had very little impact on the game's "story" but were entirely unexciting. How often can you play the messenger and not get bored?
Of course, the tedium of these quests is exacerbated by the fact that Miley can't run. She can only walk... slowly. I'm sure most of my total play time was devoted to agonizing strolls through the county fair. Where everyone talks without moving their lips.
Surprisingly, the Hannah Montana performance segments are even more poorly executed than the Crowley Corners adventure. With plenty of awkward character models and frame hitches to go around, Miley/Hannah bounces around on stage as you follow on-screen prompts that have very little to do with what she's actually doing. The backbones of these interactions are poses and gestures, which happen as Hannah runs through a pre-scripted dance routine. A picture or icon will pop up and you have to have the appropriate command memorized to match it.
Hannah will also go up to each of the band members and stand next to them while they play along. For the keyboard sections, you'll try and catch notes of light that are falling from the top of the screen with a sliding bar that runs across the edge of an on-screen keyboard. For the drums, you'll have to time inputs with notes that are once again falling from the top of the screen onto four different drum heads. When they cross the center of the head, you press the corresponding direction with the analog sticks (or you shake the controller if you're playing on the Wii) and watch the magic happen. This section of the game feels very sluggish and was a source of frustration for me as your commands don't quite seem to line up with the falling notes or with the music in the background.
Then we have the guitar portion of the song, which is embarrassing to play. It's embarrassing because there are only five strings on the on-screen guitar interface. Oops! Also, when playing along with the notes that are streaming down the neck of the guitar, the strumming causes a "correct input" bell chime as opposed to the more logical guitar sound effect. Double oops!
And then there's the singing. Yes, Hannah will awkwardly run up to the microphone and sing along (even though her vocals have been audible the whole time) with the current track. But instead of using a microphone peripheral and singing with her, you push a button (or shake the controller) when a cursor passes over select words in the song. It's idiotic.
Hannah Montana: The Movie is a terrible game on any platform, but each version has its own quirks that make it extra terrible. The 360 version suffers from horrendous framerate issues during the Hannah performances, the PS3 version forces you to use Sixaxis motion controls that break most of the gesture prompts (as you can just shake the controller in any direction and it usually works) and the Wii version is equally ridiculous because you can wave the remote and nunchuck around madly and do just fine.
Lastly, I earned a Platinum Trophy on the PS3 version in less than five hours (which includes beating the game).
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