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Hands on with “Hannah Montana Music Jam”

By dcacho
Monday, August 13th, 2007 at 1:18 am in Gieson Cacho.

Honestly, I was expecting pink and a lot of it.

I stood in a publicist’s office Thursday in San Francisco waiting to check out a preview of the latest “Hannah Montana” game. I was roped into the event because A) I have an open mind when it comes to video games and B) I had time (It was my day off.). As I stood in the downtown office, all I could think of were screenshots full of daisies, sugary pop music and galloping ponies. I was approaching this as any red-blooded man would — with a sense of palpable dread. Is this what 90 percent of girlfriend’s go through when they see their significant other’s fire up “Gears of War”?



As Disney Interactive designer Derek Dutilly fired up the Nintendo DS, I was greeted a nonlethal overdose of pink. He took me through the start screen, opened up a play mode and he showed me the first few seconds of gameplay and I was pleasantly surprised. I expected Billy Ray Cyrus’ daughter’s new game to be another “Barbie Horse Adventure” and it wasn’t. Far from it, “Hannah Montana Music Jam” plays surprisingly like a simplified version of Ubisoft’s Jam Sessions.

Players strum a guitar by moving the stylus across the screen and playing a chord by holding a direction key. The notes flow down the screen “Guitar Hero” style and if you’re quick enough and have a sense rhythm, you’ll have no problem scoring points. But the real strength seems to be how Disney Interactive managed to fit several different instruments.

Along with lead guitar, players have the option of learning the rhythm and bass guitar and the drums. The developers Gorilla and Fall Line did a detailed job mimic each instrument with the DS stylus. By tapping on the chords, players can pick an individual string on the different guitars. On the bass, if you move your stylus across the screen, you’ll get a more slapping sound from the instrument.

As for drums, you can either use the face buttons to knock around on the cymbols and snares. But the real fun comes in tapping the specific drum piece with your stylus. The single-player mode for this instrument bears a passing resemblance to “Elite Beat Agents.”

What makes this game interesting though is the combination of these instruments. If you can get four friends together, you can get each person to play an instrument on their DS and become a pseudo band. Yep, this could essentially be “Rock Band” on a portable system with the ability to play your own songs, record and share them. The only problem is a lot of the older male players may see that Hannah Montana license as an obstacle. What guy would be caught dead buying a title targeted specifically for girls?

I feel a bit embarrassed but I’d consider picking it up when it comes out Oct. 30. I wouldn’t buy it for the Hannah Montana stuff (I swear). There are a three measly songs to master but the potential in the game engine is intriguing. For once, there may be a title for girls that the boy’s may be jealous of.

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