|System: PC, PS3, Xbox 360, Wii|
|Dev: Disney Interactive Studios|
|Pub: Disney Interactive Studios|
|Release: Q3 2011|
|Screen Resolution: 480p-1080p|
by Amanda L. Kondolojy
It has been a tough few months for Disney Interactive Studios. They closed Propaganda Studios, which was responsible for the development of the Tron: Evolution games, Split/Second developers Black Rock Studios were significantly downsized, and the company posted a loss of over a hundred million dollars last quarter. Disney needs a hit, and if early impressions are anything to go by, they may have one in Disney Universe.
The premise of Disney Universe is simple. You play as a little blue creature that is able to put on suits that look like characters from Disney and Pixar films. Naturally, these suits give you powers related to the universe the character is from, and you'll be able to go on a platforming adventure using powers and character suits from all your favorite movies and properties. As you progress, the powers that the suit gives you will increase, and you'll be able to conquer more challenging levels as you "become one" with your character-based suit.
Naturally, the first question that comes to mind is this: which Disney properties will we see in the game? Unfortunately, there's not too much to report there. The only confirmed Disney franchises that we know of right now are Tron, Alice in Wonderland (the Tim Burton version), Finding Nemo, Monsters Inc., Lilo and Stitch, and The Lion King. It's a small list for now, but I'm sure it will grow substantially in the months to come.
But enough about characters, let's talk about gameplay. Disney Universe will feature puzzle-platforming reminiscent of the LittleBigPlanet or LEGO series. Just like those games, this one will also have a heavy emphasis on local co-op. You will be able to play with up to three of your friends, and though the game will probably be playable with just one person, this is definitely one that will be better when you have people to play with. Online multiplayer has not been confirmed, so, at this point, we only know that local friends will be able to play with you.
As you roam through the six different Disney/Pixar-themed worlds, you'll be able to use the wildly-varying powers of each suit to solve puzzles and discover items. We actually don't know anything about each character suit's power, save for the TRON suit, which gives players the ability to use a light disc to hit far away objects. I can't help but wonder what the powers will be for some of the less action-oriented characters though. I mean, what power could Mike Wazowski possibly possess? The ability to perform stand-up comedy? Although some of the character suit choices seem a bit odd at first, I'm hoping they add an interesting creative element to the game and are nicely balanced as well. It would be a shame if there were only one or two "good suits" and none of the others needed to be used.
Although Disney Universe has only just been announced, it has been revealed that the game will be supported with extensive DLC post-launch. New character suits, levels, and other unspecified content will be made available on a regular basis to keep the game fresh. What remains to be seen, however, is how this will impact the game at launch. Only six levels have been confirmed, which seems a little small if we're looking at linear puzzle-platform gameplay. Of course, we won't know until we actually get our hands on the title how expansive (or not) these worlds are going to be, but this is certainly an eyebrow-raising facet of the game, and we'll be sure to follow up with Disney about it when we get the chance.
We certainly don't know all the details on Disney Universe, but we are very excited to get our hands on this game at E3 next week. Disney has confirmed that this title will be at their booth, and we'll make sure to ask all the big questions about the game, the characters, and the DLC when we stop by. The game's premise looks incredibly charming, and the character suits that we've seen thus far are undeniably cute. There's certainly a lot of promise here. Hopefully Disney Universe delivers on our expectations when it releases later this year.
Amanda L. Kondolojy
CCC Senior Contributing Writer