Short-lived and dull adventure game that is a sheer pain to control.
Miley Stewart is a teenage girl who lives a secret double life. Her secret alter ego is Hannah Montana, a world famous pop star. Keeping secrets isn’t always easy and one day, Miley receives an anonymous message that says that someone knows her secret identity and does not hesitate to blackmail her about it. Miley and her best friend Lilly set out on an adventure to find out who the blackmailer is.
Hannah Montana for the Nintendo DS is an adventure game where you play as Miley. Through conversations and investigation you and your best friend Lilly will follow leads and try to solve the mystery behind the threatening message.
The basic controls are straight forward. You simply tap on the bottom screen where you want Miley to walk. In spite of this, the controls manages to be really troublesome. When Miley walks into something, be it another person or a static object, she stops dead in her tracks rather than try to get around the obstacle. This means that you have to constantly tap the screen to make her navigate around obstacles etc. The game does not support any other controlling methods, not even the most obvious and best choice – the D-pad.
The top screen is used to show your current inventory, or close up images of characters when a conversation takes place.
Navigating through the menus and inventory is also done with the stylus, using on-screen buttons. It works, but it’s overly complicated and somewhat clunky compared to just using the regular buttons.
To open doors you have to sign a special random signature with the stylus. Why they would want to complicate a mundane task like this is anyone’s guess, but the fact of the matter is that it’s just annoying.
Perhaps worse still are the conversations where your answer has multiple possible choices. First of all, it doesn’t seem to matter what you choose to say – the result of the conversation will be the same, or similar anyway. Instead of just clicking on the line you want to say, you must sign the corresponding signature. Needless to say, this is just a waste of time and borderline stupid.
Basically the gist of this game is to walk around in various places such as the school, the mall or the beach and collect clues using a special magnifying glass, a special flashlight or just by talking to the right people. Once you find the clue that you’re looking for, you must follow the next lead in order to proceed through the story.
At any time during the game you can ask your friend Lilly what to do next. This feature is helpful, but it also makes the game a little too easy.
The special magnifying glass (called MAGNO-GLASS) is also controlled with the stylus. This is used to scan the area for items – both bonuses and necessary ones to progress through the story. If you want to find every bonus item, you are encouraged to scan every inch of every area that you ever visit, except the dark areas where you instead use the flashlight in a similar manner. Much of the play time is thus spent searching for items this way, and needless to say it grows old very quickly.
Even if you don’t care for bonus items, you must still spend lots of time searching for clues.
The bonus items mentioned above are special wardrobe items. The game won’t let you know what exactly it is that you find, but your findings will stack up in your wardrobe, which is located in your house. There you can try various pieces of clothing and even design your own by choosing textures and colors. The main point with all this is that you can partake in so called fashion shows and show off your creations in the wireless multiplayer mode. However, this has nothing to do with the main adventure so it is regarded as an optional bonus.
The game consists of three episodes, and if you keep at it you’ll be able to beat it in just a few hours. The whole experience is repetitive as it is, because it’s basically the same all the time – talk with this and that person, scan the area for clues and move on to the next. You’ll also be doing a whole lot of backtracking as well so you’ll traverse the same areas multiple times.
Every now and then the story calls for a stressful situation where you have to hurry from one place to another. That’s when the racing mini games come to use. Lilly will skate (on a skateboard or on a pair of rollerblades) or drive her scooter down a road, and your goal is to make sure that she travels safely. The goal here is simply to move objects and hazards out of her way with the stylus – otherwise she’ll blindly crash into them and lose time.
As if Hannah Montana wasn’t overexposed already, the game is full of product placement related to the Hannah Montana franchise, including cd’s, dvd’s and live concerts – almost as if the game is an advergame (a game that incorporates advertising messages) when it in fact is a retail, full price product. Other Disney franchises make appearances too, and it doesn’t make the game any better.
The graphics in the game are passable. The environments are very lacking in details and thus look very dull and boring. The whole game is rendered in bright pastel colors, and the environments are drawn in a 45 degree angle. Sure it has its charm, but it’s mostly just predictable and uninspiring. Speaking of which, there are numerous background details that have been used repeatedly.
The character animation is uplifting and is perhaps the most convincing part of the whole presentation, but sadly that’s not saying much.
The music in the game consists of cheery teenage pop-rock style songs. The original Hannah Montana theme is absent, but other similar songs fill its place. It’s nice for the first few minutes, but it grows old quickly. The music does its part in capturing the right atmosphere, and most of the songs have catchy qualities, but they repeat too often. Luckily there is an option to turn the music off, which certainly comes to good use.
Hannah Montana on the DS is a poor game. It’s way too short, is a pain to control and doesn’t have much that’s fun in it. Designing clothes is the redeeming factor here, but even that is limited in scope and won’t allow for very much creativity and variation. If you are a huge Hannah Montana fan, you may be able to forgive some of the flaws in the game, but chances are that you’re better off without the game completely – it doesn’t add anything positive to the Hannah Montana brand… Quite the opposite, in fact.