Monday, October 31, 2011

Come explore the Disney Universe with me | Review

So I just recently received a review copy of Disney Interactive's latest title, Disney Universe.  If you know anything about me at all, I'm a huge Disney fan/nut.  In fact, my review is only slightly delayed since I just spent the last 4 days in Disneyland.  So yes, my last week was full of Walt's legacy.

But in this forum, I'll only be speaking of the latest platformer, Disney Universe.  This is a wholly new IP that is in the vein of the LEGO franchises, with a great focus on the worlds inhabited by Disney Characters.  In the title, you begin by only having access to the Pirates of the Caribbean (also a game already in LEGO form), and it plays very similar to those titles.  However, the difference is you don't play as characters from, you play as a unique character, who wears caricature versions of Disney Characters.  It's like a non-descript character wearing costumes of Disney Characters.  This is where I bring in the similarities to Little Big Planet.  Though your avatar isn't quite as cute as a Sackboy by itself, the fun combinations of famous Disney staples are fun in their own right to mix and match.  Running around with a Stitch costume, playing through Pirates of the Caribbean scenario's is quite the juxtaposition.

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That being said, the game is 2 parts LEGO franchise for gameplay and accessibility, and 1 part Little Big Planet, most specifically in presentation (cuteness), and collectables.
Isn't Baloo just adorable?

You'll collect a number of items and weapon power-ups, but the most important are the gold coins, which after you earn enough (2,000 to start) you can unlock the other worlds.  There are 6 Disney "Universes" to explore; the aforementioned Pirates, WALL-E, Monsters Inc, Alice in Wonderland, The Lion King, and Aladdin (two Disney animated flicks, two Pixar animated movies and two Disney Live-Action pictures).  Obviously based on the success of this first title, they have a huge vault of new worlds to pull from for sequels.  I'd love to see scenes from The Incredibles, and A bugs life, to others such as Tangled, and Hercules.  Some of the older gamers out there will remember a similar feeling when Square paired up with Disney to produce the Kingdom Hearts series.  Though that was a more dark story with the trappings of RPG elements, it was amazing to play along side them and explore the worlds with your Square characters.

Co-op is a big draw to players of all ages.  Like LBP, there's a competitive side to it, you can steal power-ups, steal dropped coins from fallen friends, and get a score at the end of each level.  The one thing I did notice, at least early on, was the levels were small, compact and puzzle-oriented (find key, vanquish all enemies, locate item) before moving on to the next section.

The target audience is for those who are fans of other family-friendly, easily accessible titles, young children, or people like me, who are huge Disney fans - I really hope it does well, and Disney adds more worlds, or creates a follow-up that will continue a long-lasting franchise.

Mashbuttons gives Disney Universe an 8.5 out of 10.

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