The Hannah Montana video game, produced exclusively for the Nintendo DS, picks up on the show's premise of Miley living a double life as a teenage girl in school in Malibu, California, and a secret pop star known as Hannah Montana.
The game offers three interactive mysteries set in five locations found around Malibu, including Miley's house, her school, the shopping mall, the beach, and the stadium where Hannah Montana performs. All three mysteries start with someone threatening to reveal Miley's secret identity as Hannah Montana.
This gameplay is less active than your typical role-playing game. Rather than playing through a series of levels tied together in a story, this game plays like an interactive short story, with lots of reading accompanied by some fun interactive twists. You control the character of Miley by tapping on the screen in the direction you want her to move. When you find people to talk to, you tap on them and a talk bubble appears. They may tell you what you want to know, but frequently they ask you to do a favor first. For example, before a harried teacher will answer your question, you need to find his missing class notes.
The game does offer some unique gameplay by having you draw shapes to open doors and choose between talk bubbles. It also gives you two cool gadgets. The Flash-o-matic turns the stylus into a flashlight so that you can move a circle of light around a dark room. With the Magno-Glass, the stylus becomes a magnifying glass that lets you see things that aren't ordinarily visible.
Also unique to this game are characters that block your progress. When Jackson (Miley's brother), Olivier (Miley's friend), and the twosome Amber and Ashley (the "mean girls" at Miley's school) appear, you must have a conversation with them before they will move. You control that conversation by choosing between two talk bubble options. These conversations can be amusing but, at times, somewhat confrontational or offensive. If you are rude, you may have to talk with them several times before you find a conversational path that moves them out of your way.
As in the television show, Miley is always accompanied by her best friend Lilly, who offers advice and suggestions whenever you tap the "?" sign on the screen.
Although initially intriguing, Hannah Montana gets old before the game is over. While there are three mysteries to solve, by the time you are in the middle of second one, the gameplay seems repetitive because there are no new game elements. This game would have been better if the developers had introduced new gadgets, new locations, and more mini-games within each mystery. There is only one riding mini-game, and it's pretty lame.
Even so, fans of the show will enjoy this game because it stays true to the brand. The cartoon versions of the cast catch the visual and verbal nuances of the actors. The look and feel of the Malibu world transfers well to this 3-D video game world. And there is an add-on fashion activity where girls can dress Hannah with clothes and accessories collected throughout the mystery mode.
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