When mild-mannered Miley Stewart eats a banana, she becomes ... no, wait, that's Bananaman. When night falls, Miley Stewart assumes the mantle of the bat, dishing out vigilante justice in the guise of ... no, that's Batman. After her uncle was murdered by a burglar ... no, that's Spider-Man. Drat. Secret identities are so hard to keep track of. In Miley Stewart's case, though, it's that when she puts on a sparkly costume, she becomes Hannah Montana, pop princess, and Disney's latest cash cow for spin-off projects from the successful TV show. Hannah Montana Music Jam is just the latest, a music-themed adventure game for the Nintendo DS.
The game's main adventure mode casts you in the dual-role of Hannah Montana, pop superstar, and Miley Stewart, ordinary girl. You've got to balance Miley's social life — interacting with her friends, heading out to the mall, that kind of thing — with Hannah's somewhat more businesslike pop career — shooting music videos, learning to play the guitar and so on. This entails walking Hannah/Miley through different game sets, interacting with characters and playing a number of different mini-games along the way.
In plot terms, Miley has to deal with the new popular girl Josie Moore, while Hannah has to deal with up and coming music superstar, Savannah Starr, by competing in a music video showdown. The basic games that surround these activities are nicely implemented as long as you keep in mind that the target market isn't that old, but it's then curious, given the general attention span of the pre-teen set, that the adventure game itself is so sludgy and slow.
Hannah moves at an absolute snail's pace around the game's sets, and while the inbuilt task list never leaves you in doubt as to what you need to get done, the fact that it just takes so long to do even the most mundane tasks — and most of the game's tasks are of the "talk to person Y in order to get object Z" type — mean that many younger gamers may get bored with it rather quickly.
Keeping with the Music Jam theme, the game also offers a music video and tune creation applications. The music video application is just the endgame for each of the adventure game's acts, and it's just as clunky here as it is in the game. The Make A Tune section fares better, in a sub-Guitar Hero/Rock Band kind of way.
The guitar sections of Hannah Montana play out in much the same way as Guitar Hero: On Tour, although the music is much worse — that's not just a subjective point of view, either, as all you've got to play with are MIDI-sounding Hannah Montana tracks. We can't see the fans being all that happy with that, frankly. Strangely, On Tour and Music Jam share the same quirk of intermittently refusing to recognise your screen swipes when registering notes.
The other mini-games are all simple, swipe-the-screen style affairs, from posing for photos to ice skating, and while none of them are taxing, some do overstay their welcome by being rather lengthy in single sittings. Speaking of overstaying their welcome, the game's main theme is incredibly repetitive, and we'd advise any parent considering Music Jam for their kids to invest in a set of headphones, pronto.