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DS  header logo

High School Musical 2: Work This Out!

For: DS

Out of tune

Product: High School Musical 2: Work This Out! | Publisher: Disney Interactive Studios | Format: DS | Genre: Adventure, Music/ Rhythm | Players: 1-2 | Networking: sharing one cartridge | Version: Europe
High School Musical 2: Work This Out! DS, thumbnail 1
I'd always suspected that living in a musical would be a pretty harrowing experience. Living in constant fear of someone, somewhere bursting into song; you'd pop out to the shops for a pint of milk only to be tossed into the air, have umbrellas thrown at you, and be expected to tango with the nearest man, woman or child. However, even I couldn't have predicted how traumatic it would be to live in the world of High School Musical 2: Work This Out!

The game takes its title from the popular Disney movies of the same name, which follow a group of picture-perfect high school students as they deal with all the trials of being young, set to music and dance numbers.

The DS interpretation is no different, following the plot of the second film and planting the gang – Troy, Gabriella, Chad and Taylor – in the ultimate summer job doing occasional work at an expensive country club, with their part-time nemeses Sharpay and Ryan tagging along for their summer break. Work This Out! does its best to allow the player to be a part of the film, throwing you all over the club grounds, and even attempting to keep the mostly random mini-games connected to the movie's plot.

These mini-games range from simple to impossible, but they all share one common thread: an unhealthy obsession with music. You're first introduced to a relatively tame quest, watching over sunbathers and tapping on their umbrellas in time with the music to keep everyone in the shade. But Work This Out! doesn't stop there – soon you're picking up golf balls and even making sandwiches with the musical backing of the film's starring students.

Some of the mini-games devolve into madness because of the fixation with music. Sandwich-making involves four conveyor belts running in opposing directions, some with ingredients and others with bread on. Not only do you have to pick and drag wafer-thin lettuce leaves onto moving pieces of bread – and hit a pot to indicate their readiness within a certain time – but you have to do it all to the seemingly arbitrary rhythm of one of the songs.

Sometimes this seems to work. One of Work This Out!'s central games is rehearsing and performing songs for the upcoming talent show. Your current character stands on the stage and struts around for a bit, while you tap icons on the screen as they change in colour according to timings. The music is less of a barrier to the game here, but because most of the sequences are synchronised so badly, more often than not you'll find it easier to switch off the music altogether and just use visual cues to work out when to tap.

If you could switch off the music, that is. The game plays a constant stream of hits from the movie. You may be buying it for the songs of course, which makes it slightly more forgivable, but you have to unlock the soundtrack as you go along so for the first day's worth of activities you'll be hearing the same two songs, on repeat, all the time. Loading screens, conversations – nowhere is safe except the pause menu, and the only way you can silence it once and for all is to hit the volume control on your DS.

Everything High School Musical 2 tries to do well, it ends up destroying some other way. Lava Springs is bright and in beautiful 3D, but the engine overstretches itself and slows down when more than two things are moving on screen at the same time. Fans will love exploring the country club, but it's so confusingly laid out that when you're told to meet someone you can spend five minutes wandering around the right section of the world before you find the corner they're hidden in.

So the burning question is whether it's still one to buy if you loved the films. Well, play for long enough and you'll unlock an album's worth of music. And while the mini-games are frustrating, it's hard to fail most of them on the easiest difficulty setting.

If you've got a pair of headphones to spare everyone else in the room (unless you've found someone willing to play multiplayer with you, which thankfully only needs a single copy of the game), then High School Musical 2: Work This Out! is a fine enough way to live the film on your DS. But if you're looking for some music-based fun, there are far better experiences to be had – Elite Beat Agents might be a better place to begin.
High School Musical 2: Work This Out!
Reviewer photo
Mike Cook | 17 June 2008
Like its stars, High School Musical 2 is pretty to begin with, but quickly becomes annoying and repetitive
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