|System: Xbox 360, PC, PS3, Wii|
|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 tried to court hardcore gamers with games like Split/Second and Pure. However, these titles failed to sell as well as they hoped, and with the closure of Black Rock studios imminent, Disney went back to the drawing board. How do you create something that will appeal to gamers of all ages, but still retains that special something only Disney can provide. The answer: create a Disney-themed platforming game.
When you think about it, this move makes a whole lot of sense, as gamers of all skill levels have gravitated towards platformers. Series like Mario, Kirby, and most recently LEGO have done well because the platforming genre can be easy on the surface, yet still difficult if you want to challenge yourself. Disney Universe is going to have the same format.
We recently got some hands-on time with Disney Universe, and though the game is going to be similar to games we've seen before, the Disney twist will make it something special. We were able to check out two levels: a huge door level from Monsters Inc. and a whimsical level from Alice in Wonderland. We played as a little blue guy dressed up as a character known as "Tron Guy," who had a little Light Disc on a stick that we were able to whack enemies with. We also tried out a character in a Stitch costume. He had a similar MO, except instead of whacking people with a Light Disc, he could hit people with a guitar. Neutralizing enemies netted us some sweet Mickey Mouse-shaped coins, which could be used later on in the game to unlock content.
The levels themselves looked great, though you can expect strictly linear content from this release. However, that's not really a bad thing, as the actual design of the levels themselves is quite good. The Monsters Inc. level we played featured lots of spinning doors and moving platforms. Though our main goal was to go from right to left, the level had a very fluid construction which helped it feel bigger than it actually was.
As we navigated tough environmental areas, we also came to wide open spaces filled with enemies. However, one interesting thing about Disney Universe is that enemies aren't content to just attack you. Enemies in this game are smart, and will set traps and throw switches to try to halt your progress. And that's not the only difficult part of this game. During our time with an Alice in Wonderland-themed area, we had to figure out how to use a trampoline hat to reach different areas and throw specific switches to move forward. From what we've seen, the puzzles aren't as difficult as those you might find in something like the Zelda series, but if you enjoy the difficulty of games in the LEGO or LittleBigPlanet series, Disney Universe will be right up your alley.
But of course, to Disney-philes, it is not the gameplay that is the most exciting facet of Disney Universe, but the characters and worlds you are able to explore. Disney Universe is going to be the first video game in history to blend Disney and Pixar worlds. This is definitely cause for celebration, as Pixar has really put Disney animation back on the map in the last decade. It has been confirmed that there will be character suits from popular franchises like Monsters Inc., the Alice in Wonderland reboot, Tron: Legacy, Lilo and Stitch, Finding Nemo, The Lion King, Aladdin, and WALL-E.
Disney Universe isn't going to set the world on fire with its revolutionary gameplay, that's for sure. The experience will be almost identical to the latest licensed LEGO game. But the difference here will be the unique way your favorite characters will interact. The suit mechanism is a great way to let you take on your favorite characters' personas without controlling them directly (which has basically been done to death in other game franchises), and will certainly make Disney Universe a unique-feeling title. Though Disney Universe was only announced a few months ago, we won't have to wait too long to check out the full version. It will be releasing this October for all home consoles.
Amanda L. Kondolojy
CCC Senior Contributing Writer