Hannah Montana Guitar Game
October 15th, 2010
Shot of Todd's couch. After a second, Todd sits up and moves a cushion aside.
Todd: Hi, and welcome back to the second part of my look at the Hannah Montana franchise. Now, you may not know this, but in addition to the [shots of...] records, TV show, movies, posters, books, fashion, trading cards, action figures, play sets and various other forms of merchandise, Hannah Montana also produced a surprisingly large number of video games. Now, most of these were playable on the Wii or the DS, but the game I'm talking about here is playable on no console whatsoever.
- Ad for the game in question
- Voiceover: Want more Hannah Montana? Hannah Montana Pop Tour Guitar Video Game! Just plug into your TV and rock out.
Todd (VO): Yes, believe it or not, they did in fact create a Guitar Hero rip-off solely for Hannah Montana fans. It contains a whopping ten songs! That's like, almost fifteen songs!
Todd (now holding the guitar): Now, normally I would not be covering some cheapo piece of crap meant for five-year-olds—that seems a little beneath my dignity—but there is one major mitigating factor here: The original price on this thing was 60 bucks. [Image of game with guitar, text reads "$59.99 plus tax." *ka-ching!*] That's right, for exactly the same amount of money you pay for God of War 3, you can buy your daughter or niece a Guitar Hero rip-off she'll never, ever play. And even today, this game is still fairly pricey, considering what it is. I can't imagine why anyone would buy this for any reason. The only reason I have one is because my friends got it for me last Christmas, because they think they're funny.
- Footage of Christmas Day, 2009
- Friend: Merry Christmas! Brendan and I got you a Christmas present weeks ago.
Todd looks at the box
- Friend: Show the camera! Show the camera!
- Todd: [pointing to the box] Guitar Hero guitar has three buttons on it.
- Friend: This isn't Guitar Hero! It's, it's got the- I know you, you like Hannah Montana...
- Todd: Right, as soon as you turn that camera off, I'm beating the shit out of you.
Back at the couch...
Todd: Yeah, weird, I don't know why you couldn't see my face in that, some damage to the file, maybe...
Todd holds the guitar up to the camera
Todd (VO): Anyway, let's check out the hardware! You got three frets, a whammy-bar which is fixed in place, so it's more like a whammy-button, a pause button which is way too close to the power button, and, of course, it's decorated like a My Little Pony. I'd put some skull and crossbones stickers on it, but I don't think it would help that much.
Todd: And, of course, this thing is comically tiny. It looks too small even for its intended demographic. I don't know who this thing was made for—baby gnomes, maybe.
- Ad for the game
Todd (VO): And get this—the full name of this thing is Hannah Montana Pop Tour Guitar Video Game, which is one of my favorite titles ever for a video game, up there with [shot of Gears of War] Space Marine First Person Shooter Video Game, [Final Fantasy X-2] Nonsense Fantasy Role-Playing Video Game, and of course, [poster of Metroid: Other M] Piece of Shit.
Todd: Alright, let me just put this on...
Shots of Todd trying to put the guitar strap over his head, which doesn't work as it is, of course, made for young girls and not adult men.
Todd: Ah, screw it. Let's try playing some Hannah Montana Ukelele Hero.
- Menu Screen for the game
Todd: Hi, Hannah. Yeah, work that pose. Oh, let's see... Oh, let's just put it on the highest difficulty, you know? Live dangerously. I think I need to psych myself up for a moment. [inhales and clenches a fist] All right. Let's do this.
- Tour Mode screen
Todd (VO): OK, now we have our first song, the Hannah Montana theme "Best of Both Worlds," aka the only song in this game I would have recognized. Now, let's give this a shot. [Mocking voice] Gee, I hope it's not too difficult.
- Game begins—it's obviously not going to be hard
Todd: Yeah, that's what I thought. Dragonforce this is not. Let's just knock this out and get it over with. [He holds the guitar up and looks at it closely] There's no strum bar!
Shot of Todd trying to strum the guitar
Todd: Wh... what... what do I do, just hit the frets?!
- Shot of the game—despite Todd's attempts, nothing happens on-screen
Todd (VO): It's not working, what do I do?
Todd: WHAT DO I DO?
- Screen switches between Todd's frantic attempts to play and the game, with Miley Cyrus' vocals over the top. After a few moments, the game switches to a generic "You failed, try again?" screen.
Todd [staring in disbelief]: I lost! I lost? Wait a minute, I'm not supposed to lose! Let me see this!
Todd leans down, grabs the instructions and reads them. After a second, he looks up.
Todd: You hit it?
Shots of Todd hitting the guitar
Todd: Attention video game designers. The whole point of Guitar Hero is that it makes you [Video of a kid playing Guitar Hero] feel like you're playing guitar! That's why you use a guitar-shaped controller! And not a light gun, or a DDR-pad or something! It gives you the sensation of actually playing the songs! That's completely ruined when you have to play the game in a way that doesn't actually resemble the motions of playing a guitar! You may as well just have people swing it around like a golf club, if that's the way you're gonna do it! Seriously, unless I'm supposed to pretend I'm playing the song entirely [shots of...] through acoustic hand-slaps, you utterly destroyed the fantasy!
Todd: Maybe I can pretend I'm playing Slap-Bass like Larry Graham.
- Shot of the game, Todd now playing it perfectly.
Todd: OK, if you can figure out the stupid, stupid interface, the songs will not give you a hard time any more, not if you can already walk and chew gum at the same time. (Clip of Rock Band) In fact, for most of us who've gotten through "Green Grass" and "High Tides" on Expert a couple of times...
Todd (VO): ...the challenge will come from having to slow down so much. If there's anything difficult about this, it's because of sheer incompetence of the programmers. The note charts often vaguely look like the song.
- Clip of the game—the notes look nothing like the song
Todd (VO): More importantly, the game doesn't have those horizontal lines that tell you where the beat is, so it's pretty easy to miss a note if it's a syncopated beat, or, God forbid, a triplet beat. You'd be completely thrown off, unless of course you know Hannah Montana's music by heart.
Todd: And do I ever!
- Clip of the game, switching after a second to Todd, hitting the controller rhythmically
Todd: You know, I'm playing this basically with two fingers, but I'm imagining little girls with less arm strength having to whack the sensor repeatedly with their whole arm until either the guitar breaks or they hurt themselves. Yeah, that'll teach you some rock 'n' roll, kids.
- Shot of the selection screen
Todd (VO): So, beyond the gameplay mechanics, what else is there about this game? Really... not a whole lot. There are no special features, no different modes, no characters... I mean, you go on tour, but basically, you're just looking at various barely-animated backgrounds with faceless crowds. Again: sixty dollars. [Clip of...] You can actually download some Miley Cyrus songs on Rock Band 2, just get that!
Todd: Ugh, let's see what the whammy button does.
- Clip of the game—the lights on the side of the screen turn on, and several big blue arrows point to them.
Todd (VO): It makes the lights on the side of the screen go off.
Todd: You know, like a whammy bar! It also comes with a wah-wah pedal that, when you press it, it does your nails!
- Clip of the game
Todd (VO): Well, what about the songs?
- Miley: I got everything I've always wanted
Todd (VO): I had never heard most of them before, but to my surprise, I don't think they're that bad. As far as the music goes, the Hannah Montana guitar game isn't that illogical—most of her music is fairly guitar-driven. I'll tell you what, this game rocks harder than a Shinedown game would, at the very least. To be honest, I really don't hate the songs on this—one or two of them are actually kinda good, which is kinda shocking, seeing as I completely despised all the Miley Cyrus songs I'd heard previously. I mean, how does that work? Relegate the actual tolerable songs to the Disney Channel and release god-awful crap like "See You Again" and [clip of...] "Can't Be Tamed" to the mainstream?
Todd: However, I do have one major observation about the song's lyrical content. Now, see if you can spot a common theme in these excerpts. This is "Best of Both Worlds."
- [Clips of the game for each song]
- Miley: You go to movie premieres, hear your songs on the radio
- Livin' two lives is a little weird, but school's cool 'cause nobody knows
Todd: This is "The Other Side of Me."
- Miley: If you could see the other side of me
- I'm just like anybody else, can't you tell
- I hold the key, to both realities
- The girl that I want you to know, if only I could show
Todd: This is "Rockstar."
- Miley: I might even be a rockstar, if you only knew the real me
- I might even be a rockstar
Todd: This is "Just Like You."
- Miley: So what you see is only half the story, there's another side of me
- I'm the girl you know but someone else too, if you only knew
Todd: She's constantly singing about her secret identity, or hinting at it, or referencing it—apparently that's just a recurring theme in her music. Why?
- Clip of the opening credits of the show
Todd (VO): I mean, I've thought about it, and the only reason I could think of that nobody's figured out that Miley is Hannah—and it's a very good reason—is that it hasn't occurred to anyone that Hannah would even have a secret identity, because that would be completely asinine.
Todd: But if she's always singing about it, you'd have to think that more than a couple of people would catch on. That's like if [Clip of...] Peter Parker walked down the street singing, "I'm Spider-Man, I'm Spider-Man, look at me everyone, I'm Spider-Man!" That's like if [Clip of...] the Power Rangers just constantly walked around wearing the same color street clothes as their uniforms! It'd be ridiculously obvious! So, on one level, this is totally stupid. However, on another level, it's ingenious. Why the stupid double-life premise at all? Why would you have that? Because: Hannah Montana isn't just Miley Cyrus, she's you.
- Clip of the movie
Todd (VO): Yes, you, pre-teen girl with dreams of being famous despite no evident talent. The Hannah Montana persona slots in just so perfectly with your own life. You too can imagine that when you get tired of doing your homework and hanging around your stupid family, you can put on a wig and go on tour and thrill your millions of fans. It's the perfect fantasy, and the songs are built to reinforce that.
Todd: Those bastards at Disney are as brilliant as they are pure evil. If they wanted to overthrow the government, believe me, they would.
- Clip of the game
Todd (VO): But yeah, other than that, I don't really have a lot of complaints about the music.
Todd: I guess I have a soft spot for girly guitar-pop. Oh well.
- Clip of the game—"Nobody's Perfect." As the song plays (and it's definitely not girly guitar-pop), Todd leans forward in disbelief
Todd: Oh, God! Ugh, it's worse than the [clip of...] Tom Morello battle in Guitar Hero 3! Ugh! OK, not every song on here gets a pass. But most of it is fairly inoffensive. Or at least, I think it is. I mean, I'm trying to tell how good these songs are, but it's difficult, because I don't know if you noticed, but the audio quality is just shit.
- Clip of the game—Miley's vocals are nearly drowned out by the music.
Todd: I mean, seriously, listen to some of this. God, the compression on this is so bad, you'd think you were playing this through a drive-thru speaker or something. [holding cords] It's not even in stereo, it's mono sound!
Todd (VO): [sound demonstrated] I actually corrected this for the sake of the review, but when I played the game, I only got sound from the left speaker.
Todd: Sixty dollars. Seriously, take a listen to this song, "I Got Nerve."
- Clip from The Wizard of Oz
- The Cowardly Lion: If I only had the nerve
Todd (VO): Now, I know what the name of this song is, but since I can barely hear it, it keeps sounding like [picture of...] "I Got Nerf."
Todd: Heh, Nerf should use this song for their commercials. Nerf should not use this song for their commercials, I immediately take that back.
Todd (VO): And while I've never played any of the other Hannah games, I'm pretty sure they at least have Hannah onscreen. This game doesn't even have that! They made a Hannah Montana game without Hannah Montana! There's not even an onscreen character for you to customize and dress up! You know, the only part of Rock Band or Guitar Hero that a preteen girl might actually be interested in?
Todd: Also, there's, of course, the obvious point that Hannah Montana does not actually play guitar in concert!
- Clip from the ad
- Voiceover: Match the notes on your TV screen and thrill the crowd with your rockin' Hannah performance, starring you!
Todd (VO): Except not starring you.
Todd: Basically, what this game is selling you is the fantasy of being one of Hannah Montana's...
- Clip of a Hannah concert, with a large blue arrow captioned 'YOU' pointing to one of the overlooked musicians
Todd (VO): ... well-compensated but completely anonymous professional sidemen. The crowd completely ignores you and won't ever acknowledge your presence. You share a small dressing-room with three other guys.
Todd: If you're lucky, Miley might say a couple sentences to you during rehearsal.
- Clip of the game
Todd (VO): And let's think about it, who would even want something like this? [Pictures of...] Hannah Montana karaoke? Fine. Hannah Montana Dance Dance Revolution? Perfectly acceptable. Hannah Montana Guitar Hero?
Todd: Do you see a lot of little girls air-guitaring to Miley Cyrus? No! Of course you don't! You may as well just have Hannah Montana toy guns, or Hannah Montana skateboa- [pictures of such skateboards] Oh. Wow, they'll just slap her face on anything, won't they? Furthermore, Guitar Hero is, at its base level, a fairly complicated and difficult game, not to mention expensive! By the time you've dumbed it down and cheapened it up enough for little girls, there's just no point any more! It's like if they made [picture of chessboard] Hannah Montana chess, where there's eight pieces per side and they're all pawns.
So yeah, this game is garbage. It's a waste of money. It's crap for all ages. Don't play it. [Stuffs guitar in garbage can] But hey, we're not done yet. Tune it for the third half of my look at Hannah Montana, where I review all four seasons of the Hannah Montana TV show. [pause] Wait, what? [Picks up piece of paper and looks at it. He picks up a gun and points it under his chin as we cut to video game clip at the end of a song.]
- Hannah: Yeah. Good night, everybody!
Closing tag song: Hedwig and the Angry Inch - "Wig in a Box"
Yeah, no, I'm not reviewing that
Music reviews resume next week