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Disney Universe

 

Disney Universe

ESRB: Everyone 10+
Platform: PS3
Category: Action Games
 
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Author: Henry K

Intro:

Like a lot of kids growing up, I wanted to go to Disneyland. I don’t know exactly why but it just seemed like that’s what all the other kids did during their summer holidays and I felt I was missing out. While I didn’t get to go as a kid, I did go to Disney World on my honeymoon and I finally got to see what the hype was about. It was truly a magical place for everyone including kids and adults. When I was asked to review Disney Universe, I readily agreed knowing that the same care they put into their parks, movies, and everything else would likely be the same approach with the game as well. After playing Disney Universe for the PS3 for several hours, I knew I was right.

Graphics:

Graphics in this game are very good and I was pleasantly surprised how they looked considering it is a Disney kids’ game. The characters and even some of the enemies looked cute and smooth and looked like little kids dressed up in Halloween costumes.

The developers paid attention to details and obviously did their homework to provide players a good feel for the game. One particularly memorable experience was the Aladdin world with its vibrant colours and shadowing including the levels on the rooftop or inside the palace. The cut scenes are comical and they look okay but don’t look as good as the world you play.

Sound:

The sound in this game was good with the level music inspired by the soundtrack on the movie it was based on. However, if you pay close attention to the background music, you can definitely hear songs from Disney movies such as “I Just Can’t Wait to be King” from the Lion King as well as others.

There isn’t a lot of voice dialogue in the game, which was fine, but the introductory voice at the start of each level did remind me of the narrator from LittleBigPlanet. The sound effects are appropriate to the gameplay but the highlight was definitely the music.

Gameplay:

In terms of the games basic plotline, the Disney Universe is a virtual world that is happy and safe until one day it has been hacked by the evil HEX. Bad guys now inhabit the six worlds and it’s up to you to take it back by solving puzzles, collecting coins, defeating enemies and ultimately return the Disney Universe to its original tranquillity.

My initial impressions of Disney Universe reminded me of games like Little Big Planet and the Lego franchise except the character you play in the game is a cute little blue-blockheaded guy. You suit up your character into one of 45 costumes based on characters from the Disney and Pixar films (both animated and live action). As I mentioned, there are 6 worlds which are further divided into several levels, containing different puzzles and lots of minions of HEX. Objectives come up on the screen to guide you through the level and large arrows direct you specifically how to solve each puzzle. These arrows can also be turned off in the game options to make the game a bit more challenging for more experienced players. The levels can be completed pretty quickly but there are a lot of things to find if you take your time: treasure chests, power ups, stars, challenges and unlockables. There is also a short mini-game type challenge in each level that range from defeating bad guys to avoiding bombs, some of which I found were actually challenging. Your success in the challenge along with the number of bad guys you defeat and the number stars and coins you collect determine your score for the level which you use later as currency to unlock the other worlds. You can replay the level to try to beat your score and each time you play it is slightly different.

Each costume has a specific upgradeable tool related to the costume you choose. For example, when wearing the Donald Duck costume, the tools are nautical themed (think oars and anchors). To upgrade the tools, you must find and open the treasure chests in each level. Unfortunately, there doesn’t seem to be any significant difference in how the tools function in an attack. They apparently just look cool and are thematically suited to each costume. Costumes are unlocked as you play through the game and then purchased with the coins you collect in each level but again, there doesn’t appear to be a significant difference in costumes except in appearance and type of tool you use.

The plot of Disney Universe doesn’t have a lot of depth but it isn’t necessary to enjoy the game. The camera angle is fixed but it didn’t affect the gameplay. Exploring the levels were neat and there are lots of things to find, smash and collect including game music, character models and concept art that you can view later. While this may not sound necessarily appealing to a child, older fans of Disney may appreciate it. Also, whatever you miss or unable to find, you can go back and replay that level until you get it right.

While the levels were fun, I wished there were more worlds as I can see the game could be completed fairly quickly. The game does offer some downloadable content for purchase through their online shop and the developers are offering regular updates for new costumes and possibly new worlds.

While playing the game, I found there was also a lot of amusing little details inside Disney Universe. For example, some of the levels have animals wandering about which you can ride and then use to attack your enemies. One of the funnier parts of the game include how each animal uses their own special attack including a farting pig that emits a green gas from his butt which temporarily knocks out enemies and an attacking cow that throws bottles of milk, causing damage to those hit.

The controls in the game are fairly straightforward. Essentially, most of the gameplay involves the left stick to move and the other buttons to attack, jump, use items, and to cancel your last action. While there are some variants of attack including upper cutting and grabbing enemies, most of my attacks ended up being some button mashing and the “double jump ground slam attack” which is a powerful move I used over and over again to get me through the levels.

The enemies themselves were generally divided into one of four categories: the regular little guy who fights in groups; the bigger “brute” type guy who’s tougher to beat; the occasional flying enemy; and the boss at the end of each world. While the regular enemies can be little repetitive, the bosses were quite impressive ranging from a giant snake in the Aladdin world to a pirate ship battle from the Pirates of the Caribbean. The enemies were easy to defeat but can sometimes be surprising including trying to throw items you need off a cliff; lighting fires you just doused out or constructing cannons that shoot at you until you destroy them.

The game also is available in cooperative play and can be played with up to four players on local multiplayer. This was fun and the pace was chaotic by players being having the option to work together to complete the puzzles or work against each other by throwing each other towards enemies and essentially getting in each other’s way. Scores are based on the number of enemies defeated and stars collected. Unfortunately, there is no network play, which was a disappointment.


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