High School Musical: Makin' the Cut features the songs and cast of both the original and the sequel movies. This game is about playing rhythm puzzles as you listen to the music from the movies.
The game uses 12 songs as the background music for the series of rhythm puzzles. Each puzzle appears on the bottom touch-sensitive screen while a performance featuring cartoon versions of the movies' stars appears in the top screen. How well you do in the rhythm puzzle affects how the performers dance in the top screen. Mess up, and they fall down in the middle of their performance.
To play the rhythm puzzles, you must coordinate four different actions: tapping, sliding over arrows, tracing patterns, and moving basketballs through a hoop. The majority of the puzzle play involves tapping icons. An icon appears on the lower touch-sensitive screen surrounded by a circle meter which gradually fills with color from yellow to green. The object is to tap the icon when it is green. As the puzzles get harder, the icons appear more often and in faster sequences. Your ability to hit the icons at the right time is graded, as is your talent to repeat the process without mistakes.
The game offers four modes of play: story, quickplay, video studio, and multiplayer. In the story mode, "High School Musical" stars Troy, Gabriella, Sharpay, Ryan, Chad, and Taylor need your help as compete for the title of "Best Youth Musical in America." The narrative, while weak, is playable on four levels of difficulty presented as local, state, regional and national competitions. After playing a puzzle in the story mode, you unlock it in the other modes.
Quickplay lets you replay a puzzle for a better grade and create a custom character to perform it. In the video studio mode, you can watch what happened on the top screen while you were playing a puzzle, and then edit it by changing camera angles and adding lighting and special effects. Multiplayer gives you an opportunity to compete in the rhythm puzzles against another who also owns the game. You can also share your in-game-created video performances.
While these types of rhythm puzzles were first introduced in Elite Beat Agents back in 2006, High School Musical: Makin' the Cut uses them to create a fun way for fans of the HSM movies to interact with the musical numbers. Unlike Elite Beat Agents, which boasted a strong storyline to sustain your interest in the puzzles, here you play to better your score and unlock new outfits and locations for performances. While novel at first, interest may wane unless you are a huge fan of the movies and the music.
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