|Dev: h.a.n.d. Inc.|
|Release: April 11, 2014|
|Screen Resolution: N/A||Mild Cartoon Violence|
by Jenni Lada
Disney Magical World isn't just a game for children. Rather, it's for the children in all of us. This is the game for those of us who grew up in the golden age of Disney classic animation. For people who played Adventures in the Magic Kingdom as kids and lamented their inability to collect all of those magical keys. It's a game that, at times, might seem like it doesn't know exactly what it wants to be, yet manages to quite nearly excel at every genre it broaches.
I suppose the most apt way to describe Disney Magical World is to say that it's Animal Crossing with Disney characters, but that falls short. It's a more ambitious project than Animal Crossing, and while they both have a similar concept, the execution couldn't be more difficult. In each, you're gradually building up to full mastery of the game and access to everything--areas, characters, clothing and furniture. Yet, where Animal Crossing can't truly be "beaten" without at least a year's worth of play, I could see a dedicated Disney Magical World player perhaps unlocking everything within the span of a month.
That isn't to say people who like, or dislike, Animal Crossing should immediately be prepared to transfer those same feelings over to Disney Magical World. As I've said, it's quite different. Players come into this new world of Castleton after receiving an invitation from Mickey himself. An anthropomorphic invitation named Letitia cajoles a player into this fanciful realm filled not only with noteworthy Disney legends, but also various, insignificant humans. Though, I suppose the player could be considered nondescript as well. There's an option to use a premade Mii as an avatar, or one you customize within the game.
From there, a brief prologue begins to introduce players to the most basic Disney Magical World concepts. While some might scoff at the idea, myself included, it turned out to be more helpful than it seemed. After all, it not only offered a hint of how one must strive for success, but also the Happy Sticker system. Yes, I realize how that might sound, but collecting Happy Stickers soon becomes an obsession. It isn't just about rewarding people for putting together great outfits, completing episodic missions, building furniture, making clothes, taking pictures with "celebrities," or managing the cafe. It's also about opening up Castleton and its adjacent realms. For example, the cafe isn't available until 10 stickers are acquired, and only then can one head to the castle and lay claim to the business.
It's an unusual progression system, yet it works quite well. Stickers, as I mentioned earlier, are awarded for a variety of actions. You can get them for fishing, preparing dishes in the cafe, completing missions in Cinderella's Castle, Agrabah, the 100 Acre Woods, and Wonderland, collecting ensembles, fishing, farming, cooking and more. I found I'd rack up fishing, farming, cafe and episode completion stickers without even realizing it. After all, the first thing someone's bound to do when they get a new packet of seeds or recipe for a meal is plant it or make it. Considering I've seen locked sections and such that require over 60 stickers, it's good to know things progress even when you aren't consciously working towards the goals. And, if a player does find themselves faltering, the touch screen will tell you which stickers are within your grasp.
That, and the staggering variety of activities within Disney Magical World, are what makes this game so appealing and enduring. Castleton is the hub world, with the player-run cafe, Scrooge's department store, Daisy's boutique, Chip and Dale's workshop, Yen Sid's tower and a fortune teller. Someone can visit their cafe to decorate their living space, jazz up the restaurant, prepare the snack, sweet and drink that will be served, dictate staff outfits, take manager and customer requests, and even attempt to hold a party that may lure in characters like Stitch, Snow White, or the Beast and Belle. The boutique, workshop and tower are crafting stations where people can make clothing, quest related "armor" outfits, furniture, fishing rods, and wands. Scrooge's store and the fortune teller are simply places to buy goods, with the former specializing in materials, furniture, and pre-made clothing and the latter offering decorative sparkles and good luck charms that make certain elements of the game easier.
Crafting is easily the way to go in Disney Magical World. While Scrooge will sell items, they're far more expensive and he has limited floor space. No, the only way to everything someone would want, and fast, is to make it. Which means a good bulk of a player's time will be spent scavenging. If an item is on the ground and glittering, it's yours. Race up to it, grab it and hoard it away. Maybe you won't need it now, but odds are it'll be crucial for some recipe or request.
Which, if I may segue for a moment, is sadly one of the only non-quest ways to really interact with the Disney characters and faceless mooks in Disney Magical World. Every day, about four people in Castleton will have requests for a player. If completed, you'll often get an item that you might not be able to acquire in any other way. It's helpful, but somewhat disappointing. The only way I could really spend time with the characters in Castleton was if I "greeted" them with a special wave, usually to get a trading card, or did them a favor. It isn't like Animal Crossing, where silly conversations can be enjoyed. In fact, I found I often wouldn't talk to the characters. I'd walk past them, to get the "Nice!" point for my perfect Ace Ensemble outfits, wave at them if they had the card indicator, then move along.
At least the interactions with characters from Cinderella, Winnie the Pooh, Alice in Wonderland, and Aladdin felt like they had more meaning. After collecting a requisite number of Happy Stickers, gates to each area will open from Castleton. Each one offers different experiences for visitors. Cinderella's realm, for example, offers a forest dungeon and a ballroom dancing mini-game. Alice in Wonderland has two dungeons, one set in a forest and another in the Queen of Hearts' maze. The 100 Acre wood offers a patch for farming, fishing spots, and lots of gathering locations. Finally, Agrabah has a market and a ruins dungeon.