Let’s be honest: everything that Harmonix touches turns to gold. Guitar Hero. Rock Band. Dance Central; hell, that’s just scratching the surface and naming a few of their franchises. Their latest, Disney Fantasia: Music Evolved, doesn’t disappoint, becoming THE title you’ll want a Kinect for.
Yeah, THE title you’ll want a Kinect for. Give Fantasia a go and you’ll suddenly be pissed off at yourself for buying that new Kinect-less Xbox One bundle. On that note, Microsoft also needs to slap itself for potentially robbing its user base of such a brilliantly creative game.
I digress. We’ve previewed the title numerous times, but to quickly summarise, you’re following in Mickey Mouse’s footsteps, becoming the new apprentice to the famous Yen Sid (yes, that’s Disney spelt backwards). Via Kinect, you’re thrown into a series of unique worlds, tasked to spread art and music while at the same time clearing pesky noise from the land. You do this via motion and rhythm, aided by another of Sid’s protégées, a young girl named Scout.
The game has four central motions: a straight-up swipe that matches an on-screen prompt, a wipe and hold, a punch and finally, a punch and trace motion. If you start the game’s campaign, it takes you through these concepts, then explaining the game’s remixes. Each song has three mixes – its original, plus two more – that you can transition between in-song. Finally, there are also composition remixes that let you create your own little sample to insert in a track. Unlike dancing, the actions of Disney Fantasia: Music Evolved are easy and damn natural. You won’t feel like a fool performing them.
Basically, I feel like a DJ now, and a damn good one at that. I ran to the other room and dragged my partner into the living room so he could listen to my new song. No, scratch that; so he could EXPERIENCE my new song.
Fantasia manages to take everything that’s good about Disney and wraps it up into a neat little package. The game is all about exploration, creativity, co-operation and fun. It’s innocent and lively and perfect. My partner, after being dragged into the room to listen to my creation, immediately wanted to have a go with Fantasia himself. After finding out he had to stand up and perform the Kinect actions, that eagerness faded away… until about ten seconds later when he was actually playing. I get it, gamers: you automatically don’t like motion control stuff. Duly noted; let it go (LET IT GOOOOOO!).
I let him play, of course, but with me in multiplayer mode. While you’re collaborating to make a great song, you’re also competing with one another to rack up the most points. Even with two people playing, you don’t need a lot of space to wave your arms around; our coffee table finally got to stay where it was intended during a Kinect game. Also, it’s adorable how you bring a second player into the game simply by engaging in a handshake.
The bottom line is that you can’t walk away from Fantasia without a stupid grin plastered across your face. It’s the same grin that you’ll know of if you’ve ever gone to a Disney theme park as a kid — hell, or as an adult — and just got to forget about the worries of the world to simply have fun. Everything just melts away, leaving you to enjoy yourself.
Each of the world’s hubs provide a further sense of exploration should you choose to do it. That’s right — if you don’t want to use Kinect to find secret spots in a world, you don’t have to to. That side of the game isn’t shoved down your throat, but once you interact with clam-drums under the sea, I’ll be willing to bet you’re going to want to see what other areas offer.
If you want to ditch the game’s campaign and play with all the unlocked songs and their remixes, you can certainly do so straight away via Party mode, but it’s far more rewarding to unlock songs and their remixes as you go, getting that little rush of accomplishment when uncovering a unique sound. That rush aside, campaign mode sure takes its time explaining details when you really just want to get into creation — especially at the start of the game when you’ve just had your first hit of gameplay.
Remixes provide amazing new ways to experience a song, but I found that I usually avoided them in classical songs. The idea works quite well with modern music, but I found it almost sacrilegious to put a reggae beat over Mozart, or a synthesizer over Tchaikovsky. As far as song selection, there’s something in the game for everyone, from Mozart to Nicki Manaj or Lady Gaga to The Police.
Disney Fantasia: Music Evolved is a bright, sparkling gem in a landscape full of first-person shooters, death and blood. It’s the perfect game for children and adults alike, providing a unique outlet to have fun and spur those creative juices. I’ve never been more confident giving a game a 10/10 review as such. Before any of you out there belly-ache that you can’t give a (near-) perfect score to a motion-controlled game, just stop and give it a try. You won’t consider it a one, for starters, as it’s more akin to an easy-to-pick-up version of Garage Band; regardless, you’ll forget about all your (baseless) complaints as soon as you’re wrapped up in its blanket of giddy fun.
Fantasia Music Evolved was reviewed using a promotional code on Xbox One, as provided by the publisher. Click here to learn more about Stevivor’s scoring scale.