When I started playing Disney Universe, I was apprehensive. This is a game for kids after all, and I am a grown man. Surely this can’t be good. I was right, and I was wrong.
First, let me start off by saying this game is not meant for the hardcore audience. If you are the type to finish games on crushing difficulty, you may want to steer clear of this title. It is a 3D platformer at its core, and the character is free to roam into the foreground and background at will. As with most platform games, the story is not the center of attention here. There is a loosely bound narrative that involves the Disney universe getting corrupted by an evil virus somehow. This virus has populated the six worlds envisioned in the game with enemies and traps meant to harm your hero. Cut scenes between acts provide comic relief while loading, but really do not further or boost the story at all. Actually, if you were to skip every single one, it is likely you will not miss them.
You progress through 18 stages with three sections per stage, totaling 54 playable levels. Each world is a loose representation of some staple Disney movie such as Lion King and Monsters, Inc. The levels are colorful and support themes from the movies, but in truth that is where the similarity ends. There are no sounds from the movies and no characters from those movies in the levels. Each world is stocked chock full of the same baddies from the other worlds. The only difference is the enemies’ weapons are themed according to the movie. Your goal in each world is to rescue another character wearing a costume at the end of every third stage. There are no real boss fights to speak of, here though, this is a kids game after all. Rather, you are required to perform certain tasks in order to beat the level, all the while fending off a couple of hordes of enemies. There is just enough challenge here to require younger players to think, but that’s about it.
Along the way you will collect gold in the form of Mickey Mouse ears and other icons. There is no shortage of gold scattered through the levels with destructible scenery yielding hidden gold. With the gold you earn you can purchase new costumes to wear and new worlds to explore. At first, only one world is open, but you will quickly be able to buy more. Costumes can be upgraded within the worlds by finding stars. As an added incentive, each world can be played in any order, any number of times. This is actually required in order to unlock all of the costumes as the second time you play the character rescue level, there is a new costume to unlock.
Control in this game is extremely simple and harkens back to the golden days of platform gaming. There is a button for jump, one for attack, and one for interactions. For some entertainment value, you can press the four directions on the directional pad to elicit different emotions ala LittleBigPlanet. Inconsistent is the word of the day here when it comes to controls and interaction. Since this is essentially a button mashing experience, when you get swarmed by enemies, you start pounding the attack button. The problem with inconsistency shows up most here. The enemies could slaughter you in an instant causing you to respawn (you can’t die in this game), but the next time you play through that area, it doesn’t seem like they can hurt you. Your jumping action also seems to be flighty, as sometimes you can jump like you are superhuman, and at other times you feel like you have lead feet. These are minor annoyances though, given that you cannot truly fail a level and it does not detract from the fun.
Disney Universe is a great title to get your kids out of the rail based kiddie-style games and start getting them into the meatier side of games. Experienced players are going to love the online or local co-op modes (sadly though the game plays better solo). The game is solid, not perfect, but should give you a good number of playing hours for your investment.
Article by Rob Manning.
-The Final Word-
Disney Universe is a great title to get your kids out of the rail-based kiddie-style games and start getting them into the meatier side of games.
|Platforms reviewed : PlayStation 3|