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DS  header logo

Hannah Montana: Music Jam

For: DS

Ready to rock

Product: Hannah Montana: Music Jam | Developer: Gorilla Systems Co | Publisher: Disney Interactive Studios | Format: DS | Genre: Casual, Film/ TV tie- in, Music/ Rhythm | Players: 1 | Version: Europe
Hannah Montana: Music Jam DS, thumbnail 1
Who knew teenage girls had such glamorous lives? When I was a lad, all I did was sulk and play a battered Nintendo console. But if Music Jam is anything to go by, most of the girls in town were arranging charity fundraisers and leading secret double lives.

Miley Stewart, if you're one of those uncool grown-up types, is one of Disney's modern hit characters. She's an average girl in an average high school, but unbeknownst to most of her friends she's leading a stressful double life as the hugely famous pop star Hannah Montana. As the player, it's up to you to balance her friends and her fans, as well as entering an online music video competition.

While a lot of Hannah's tasks involve moving around town and collecting items and talking to people, the important tasks involve taking part in one of a variety of mini-games. They're varied enough, with ice skating and making pizzas in Hannah's schedule alongside playing musical instruments and getting ready for the competition.

The mini-games all employ the touchscreen in relatively basic ways, but they avoid being too frustrating, and the musical instrument sections – involving three types of guitar and a drum kit – are quite fun, with the strumming working well on the DS's screens and the difficulty levels well-pitched to make sure none of Hannah's target market is left frustrated or bored, though some last for much, much longer than needed.

But for a game reliant on Hannah's music, it doesn't make such a good job of including it. Hannah's hit songs are present in the game, but only in a rather reduced, electronic way and while it's not whiny enough to become irritating, it's probably not going to enthuse her fans much either. If you're already familiar with her songs you can probably sing along to the noise as you strum and drum – there are even vocal sections where you sing into the DS's embedded microphone – but some real music would've made quite a difference.

In between the mini-games you'll find yourself running around town talking to people, making friends and doing whatever it is that girls do at a mall. The tasks and games are nicely spread out, but this does become a weakness for Music Jam, because the game crawls along at a snail's pace. Hannah moves across the screen as if she's wearing lead boots, and most locations have multiple exits, so you'll spend a lot of time wandering around squinting at the scenery.

It's all good fun, though. Even the change between Hannah and Miley is turned into a game, with Hannah's outfit being customisable and more clothes unlocked as you play. So despite the slow speed of the game, more patient younger gamers are kept entertained.

Once the adventure side of things is done with, you're left with the extra sections. All of the mini-games are available to play outside of the main game, once you've unlocked them, but the biggest extra available is the 'Creative Mode' which offers a video creator and a music composer. The video creator is taken from what's used in-game to enter the competition – you choose from a variety of backdrops, lights, outfits and poses, and the results are generally a bit chunky, but it's fun to play around with the settings and watch the results afterwards.

More impressive is the composer, which is surprisingly deep for what is ostensibly a children's game. It offers the three guitar types shown in the game, as well as the drum kit, and you can compose full songs, strumming and choosing chords using the D-Pad. It's very functional, even if it might be a bit complicated for the youngest players, and combined with its multiplayer mode where you and friends can form a band together, the whole package of story mode and music maker fits together very neatly indeed.

Music Jam
's flaws keep it far from perfect, particularly for those with short attention spans. But it doesn't frustrate the player, and there's a lot of variation to be found. For fans of Hannah Montana, this is an accomplished use of the licence. But don't expect a rollercoaster ride.
Hannah Montana: Music Jam
Reviewer photo
Mike Cook | 30 June 2008
With clean graphics and fun mini-games, Music Jam is a good composition let down by slow pacing and poor music
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