Disney Universe Review
Mention the word “Disney” and images of some of the most successful movies and the most uniquely charming characters in the entertainment world comes up, both heroes and villains. Sadly, the name remains iconic only in the world of movies and home video when its franchise could have lent its magic in the world of video games as well. I do recall a few Disney game titles but nothing to put them in the gaming firmament. But it wasn’t until last year that its Epic Mickey for Nintendo Wii became a resounding hit. This year, Disney Interactive Studios follows suit and has just imprimatured the release of Disney Universe for the major game consoles, including the PC.
On closer play, the game does have more affinity in looks with LEGO’s Traveller’s Tales series, but Disney Universe offers more with a cute virtualized version of its theme park with a caricatured look of its movie characters. Disney certainly knows how to delight its juvenile markets with an engaging game that promises to be a standout for the kids.
The Good News about Disney Universe
Exploiting the engaging familiarity of its popular movies, the Disney Universe is presented in a colorful 3D platform that rides on the gadget literacy of young folks while catering to their fantasies of assuming the fictional characters in its movies like The Lion King, Pirates of the Caribbean, Alice in Wonderland, Aladdin, to mention a few. The fun starts with the gamer wearing and assuming the powers of any of the successful Disney characters. It is set in the familiar but computerized-looking Disney movie worlds corrupted with a cybervillain called HEX and are now corrupted with deadly enemies. There are 54 parts in 18 stages where you are expected to beat the bad guys while having fun in the process.
Not that the game underestimates the intelligence of a 5-year old game-savvy kid these days, but it is quite literal in hand holding players through. It has a persistent blue arrow that points to your next move and objectives. But what stands out is its non-linearity. That means you can unlock any of the 6 game worlds anytime as long as you have saved enough in-game currency which is also easy to get anywhere in the game. You can also replay each world as they offer enough challenges and collectibles that are different each time.
The Not so Good News about Disney Universe
Despite having a resolution that goes up to 1080p, don’t expect much from its graphics. While I did get some real satisfaction kicking butts in the game, Disney Universe is designed for kids. The 3D platforming of familiar movie scenes can be boring as the camera angles are fixed with few platforming feats. The imageries are less refined and the animation not as fluid as their movie franchises. Sound effects and background music can be repetitive and borders on the boring. Even the actions are simplistic enough to be predictable. But this roughness actually adds to its charm of the Disney Universe that suitably removes much of the complexities that adult games boast – something kids wouldn’t really make much fuss about.
The game’s multiplayer mode allows 4 players at once but it can be chaotic and 2-3 players are more manageable. There is also no online modes. But it is plain Disney Universe wasn’t designed for either and is best enjoyed solo or with a couple of friends.
The Bottom Line
If you plan to give your kid an excellent gaming title in the coming holidays, you can’t go wrong with Disney Universe. I just wouldn’t expect it to have the same spit and polish as most adult games. That is no problem as kids generally won’t mind the difference. I certainly don’t see its flaws and rough edges as shortchanging your kid. Within the genre of kid’s play, Disney Universe has to be one of the most rewarding gaming experiences for the young and even the young at heart.