December 1, 2008

High School Musical 3

Highschool Musical 3 Senior Year Dance! (HSM3) is the game your younger teens are going to be asking for this holiday season. Being a closet High School Musical fan I was eager to play the dance pad version of the game for the Xbox 360. HSM3 for the PS2 is also compatible with a dance pad where the Wii version of HSM3 is focused on performing dance motions using the Wiimote and Nunchuk. So you will need to keep the control systems in mind when you are deciding on what version to purchase for your children.

The content in HSM3 is not only from the newest movie but totals 29 songs from all three High School Musical movies. The playable characters from the movies include Troy, Gabriella, Sharpay, Ryan, Chad and Taylor or you can create your own Wildcat if you prefer. Each of the characters in HSM3 made the transition from the big screen to be transformed into graphical representations. At first I thought it was odd that they didn’t use the song segments from the movies to dance along to until I realized the developers made this decision so your created Wildcat could be placed into the songs. This is a great option for your kids to get them involved in creating their own dancer so they can take part in their favourite songs.

As previously mentioned the control system for the Xbox 360 version is your dance pad. The game includes a very thorough tutorial mode where you will follow Ryan’s instructions to learn the basics you need to dance along with your favourite High School Musical songs. While dancing you will follow the circular dance queues direction from the center of the dance ring to know which way to step on your pad or move on your Xbox controller. Time your step precisely to correspond with your dance queue hitting the dance ring to score the best points.

While dancing your selected song there are two meters on the screen you will need to watch for. The first is the star shaped meter that will fill up gradually with each correct dance step. When you fill the star meter you will be able to activate your super star power by hitting two corner pads or by pressing down on the LB and RB on the controller. Each correct dance move will earn you more points when star power is active. There is also a performance meter that you must keep out of the red zone. If you miss too many steps, there is a possibility that you fail a song. I suggest you start off with the easier songs in Sophomore and as you get some passing grades, you graduate to Junior and Senior levels.

Personally, with my two left feet and lack of rhythm I found the quick timing of some songs a little hard to follow with the dance pad and often got confused which step was next. Often, I had to look down to the pad to prevent myself from missing tripping myself up. Even with my inability to be a dance master I really enjoyed HSM3 and loved the option to use your controller instead of the dance pad when I got tired of all the dancing. The game also supports multiplayer so your kids can invite their friends over for a dance party.

HSM3 plays like other dance pad genre games available, but has a uniqueness of its own that derives from the dance ring and queue system which replaces the directional arrow directions common to other dance games. One of the most positive aspects about HSM3 is that Disney has released a game that will interest a younger crowd and get them off the couch and active.

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