|System: PS3, Xbox 360, Wii, PC|
|Dev: Disney Interactive Studios|
|Pub: Disney Interactive Studios|
|Release: October 25, 2011|
|Screen Resolution: 480p-1080p||Cartoon Violence, Crude Humor|
by Amanda L. Kondolojy
Disney has a huge library of properties. I don't care who you are; if you were born in this century, you've known and loved a Disney movie. However, despite all the amazing properties that Disney owns and the billions of lives they touch around the world, Disney hasn't exactly leveraged this power in the world of video games. Sure, they lent a hand to Square Enix the Kingdom Hearts series, but it wasn't until Epic Mickey came out last year that they were able to utilize their brand on their own in a meaningful way on the current generation of consoles. And the results were fantastic. Although Epic Mickey was a huge hit among Wii fans and more advanced gamers, Disney still lacked that singular game that united their franchises in a meaningful way. Until now.
Disney Universe has a simple premise. You play as little blue creatures who like to dress up as their favorite Disney characters and borrow their powers, which is a great way to literally step in the shoes of your favorite Disney character. I don't know a kid or adult alive who has never imagined themselves at one point as a character from a Disney movie, whether it's a free-spirited pirate from the Pirates of the Caribbean series or one of Disney's signature villains.
And no matter what kind of character you empathize with, Disney Universe has a suit for you. There are characters from the aforementioned Pirates of the Caribbean, Aladdin, The Lion King, Monsters Inc., Wall-E, TRON and more. The game even features suits from "classic" Disney characters like Mickey, Donald and Goofy. And if that's not enough for you, Disney has announced that there will be quite a bit of DLC support for this game in the future, which includes multiple character packs from even more Disney franchises.
But enough about the character suits, let's talk about actual gameplay. Levels in the game are sorted by movie franchise, and you'll have to complete a number of sequences within each level to move forward. The levels in the game correspond nicely with character suits, and you'll be able to play through the worlds of Alice in Wonderland (2010), Monsters Inc., and Pirates of the Caribbean, just to name a few. Each level tasks players with solving puzzles, building items, and defeating as many enemies as possible.
Actually playing through the levels is fairly simple, as the game has a persistent arrow that shows you exactly what you need to do to proceed. In this way, Disney Universe is a little bit disappointing, as you don't exactly have to think in order to solve the puzzles. However, the game does give players some challenge in the form of smart enemies. As you build structures, pull switches and use items, enemies in the game will actively work against you to try to trip you up. If you are playing the game solo, this can be a huge issue, as running around after nefarious characters can make your progress slow. But if you are playing Disney Universe co-op, distributing the labor between dispatching enemies and solving puzzles makes the game much more enjoyable.
Although the base game only comes with six worlds, there is quite a bit a meat to each one, and you can bank on spending an hour or more within each game's world. And the game puts several replay stipulations in place for unlocking all the characters. Even if you aren't a big replay enthusiast, chances are you won't mind going through these levels again, as the simplistic platforming really lends itself to playing and replaying with family and friends.
Visually, Disney Universe has some great style. Nothing is represented exactly the way you remember from the movies, which gives the game a sense of freshness. The suit design is incredibly detailed for each character, and every costume from Jack Sparrow to Jafar is presented with meticulous detail. The worlds are also very detailed, with tons of enemies running at you and plenty of things to interact with. Level design is impeccably done, and you will never get bored exploring the Disney Universe.