Saturday, November 12, 2011

Disney Universe Hands-On Impressions

Chris Linendoll has caught platform-fever! Check out his look at Disney Universe, out now!

Spending a few hours the other day Rayman Origins stirred up some long dormant desire in me to play platformers. Luckily, a demo just hit Xbox LIVE and PSN for Disney Universe. A kid-friendly, brightly colored, easy to play game featuring a romp through a Disney-themed world was just what the doctor ordered. Unfortunately, Disney Universe doesn't come close to matching the fun or wonder of Rayman Origins.

The demo is woefully short, featuring only one world, that of the Pirates of the Caribbean. It's an odd choice, seeing as how LEGO Pirates was just released a few months ago, and Disney Universe borrows quite a lot of its gameplay mechanics from that series. Using the Pirates world for the demo makes it all the more easy to compare the two, and Universe can't reach the level of fun or whimsy that the LEGO series brings.

The player is dropped into the role of a "cast-bot" a blue Casper-lookalike whom wears a suit that corresponds with each unique setting in the game. For the time in PotC, the cast-bot wears a Captain Sparrow-inspired suit, complete with dreadlocked hair, and pirate hat. The characters are cute, and animate well, but the camera is pulled too far out to really appreciate the work that went into recreating the different costumes.

The gameplay itself is almost exactly from the LEGO games. One button to jump, one to attack, and the enemies leave behind collectible coins when defeated. Several usable items are littered throughout the environments, and the game defaults to pointing these out to the player via a large blue arrow. It can be turned off, in order to increase the difficulty, and if you're above the age of 7, you'll probably want to do so.

Each level features several minor objectives, each one taking about 15 seconds, usually in order to make a pathway to the next area of a level. The enemies are incredibly easy to take down, and the puzzles are obviously intended for the little ones. Unless you are playing with a child, or perhaps a non-gaming girlfriend or parent, there's not really much here.

The prospect of a Little Big Planet set in the Disney Universe is a great concept, however the execution of it, at least in this demo, is woefully under-cooked. It seems like the developers spent a lot of time looking at the LEGO games, trying to distill what makes them so successful, and only managed to adopt the superficial aspects. If you have a kid who is a big Disney fan, or if you've played through all the LEGO games and still want more of that style of gameplay, then Disney Universe may be what you're looking for. However, be sure to give it a try first, you may wanna wait a few months until the inevitable price drop.

Christopher Linendoll wants to show you the world. He can be reached via Twitter, or found in the hummus section of your local grocery store.


  1. this looks really really dumb.... but i guess i'm not really the target audience

  2. Rock, you know you wanna play this game! ;)