Monday, May 31, 2010

"Real Men Play Hannah Montana"

The above should be the official Achievement Whore motto.

Which of the following activities have you always wanted to do in a video game:
A. Make a pop star pose and dance around during a concert
B. Buy a variety of dresses and accessories, then customize them with designs
C. Ride a horse and make it jump over hay bales (note: horse may handle more like a fighter plane than an actual animal)
D. Flirt with boy in cowboy hat by helping him build a chicken coop.
E. All of the above

If you answered E, then holy shit do I have the game for you. It's Hannah Montana: The Movie. Uh, The Game. Except I'd barely even call it a game, so maybe more like The Tedious and Short Lived Experience.

Going into Hannah Montana as a person who knows nothing about her, her music, her TV show or her movie, I wasn't really sure what to expect. I figured there'd be some music, and maybe some mini-games, but beyond that I couldn't guess. Video games are generally driven by conflict of some kind, and the type of high school/pop star conflict that drives Hannah's life doesn't seem like it would translate.

Which, to tip my hand, it doesn't. Hannah Montana isn't a poorly made video game by any stretch. It's just incredibly limited and not at all fun. Even if you were a crazed mark for Miley Cyrus and her alter ego, I can't see how you'd enjoy this title.

To emphasize my point, let me go over the sum total of activities in the game:

1. Concerts: Over the course of the game, Hannah gives several performances of her various songs. Your job is to perform little mini-games to keep the crowd excited. You use the thumbsticks to strike poses, tap buttons to play the drums and guitar, catch falling notes to play the keyboard, and play a timing game to sing. This is as close to game content as you're going to get.

2. Mini-games: There are only four of these - the aforementioned horse riding game and three carnival style attractions. Two of the carnival games have atrocious controls, though the third, knocking over soda cans with bean bags, was as close to fun as this game ever got for me.

3. Dress up: If you've ever wanted to dress a virtual Hannah Montana in various outfits, this is your big chance. In terms of actual gameplay, you can largely (and thankfully) ignore this.

4. Faffing about: Not to steal from Yahtzee, but the majority of this game (80%+) is spent wandering around talking to people and looking for poorly hidden objects. It's excruciatingly dull, in large part thanks to Hannah's snail-like walking pace (my kingdom for a run button) and the painfully lame dialogue. Like it or no, this is what you'll mostly be doing.

One might hope that the game would at least have an interesting plot given the paucity of gameplay, but prepare for disappointment. Miley's small podunk town in Tennessee (which somehow has a fairground, a petting zoo, and a university) has attracted the interest of a real estate developer, who wants to build apartment complexes and a mall. For some bizarre reason, everyone in town agrees that this is terrible and will ruin the town. (By the way, this includes the mayor...are elected town officials generally this opposed to what would represent an economic boon for their constituency?)

Anyway, the plan is for Hannah Montana to give a benefit concert, which is odd because it's right there in town and attended pretty much just by the townspeople...the same townspeople who couldn't afford to keep the developer out in the first place. Maybe the 360 hardware couldn't render the throngs of out-of-towners who came to the concert?

Meanwhile, Miley is trying to keep her secret that she's Hannah Montana and score a date with a slow-witted boy (man? it's not clear) named Travis. This leads to an awkward scene in which she's supposed to be attending a mayor's welcome event as Hannah and a date with Travis as Miley at the same time, with Three's Company style results. Oh, and there's a running subplot that goes nowhere in which some tabloid reporter is trying to discover the identity of Hannah Montana. And there's some crap about her retarded brother missing a college deadline (they must have very low standards) and her dad (Billy Ray THAT'S star power!) trying to woo some other woman while keeping Travis away from Miley. If all this sounds like it would work better as a TV show, you've appraised it well.

All told, Hannah Montana is about three hours long...pitiful for a retail release and yet still more than enough for me. I can't recommend this title to anyone. Even hardcore Hannah Montana fans should stick to her music and television show, because there isn't anything to find entertaining about this game.


  1. So, theoretically only 3hrs entertainment for 60 bucks or, alternatively, only 3hrs for 1000 gamer points. How does one view this situation?

    "I think we're all losers here."

  2. The latter for me. But I've still played worse.