Also available on Xbox 360, PC, Wii
Release October 28th 2011
The trailers to this game seem to show it as some sort of cross between LittleBigPlanet and the Lego game franchise, mixed with Disney based characters and wacky action. That’s a pretty good description of what the game is.
The characters look similar to LittleBigPlanets Sackboy, with small bodies and large heads, while the play area is more open space like in Lego rather than side-scrolling. Usual platform mechanics apply, with jumping, attacking, double jumping and moving objects around to get through the levels. Similar to the Lego games, you collect coins as you go which can be saved up and used to purchase things in game. There’s not much that is particularly new or exciting for the game to boast.
Which is fair enough. It is aimed at a young audience, who may only be beginning to play on consoles and need a simple set up. One to four players can work as a team to get through the levels, so if you are a parent you could let a few children play together or join in yourself to offer support or guidance.
The game offers simple puzzles which usually involve finding and dragging an object from one place to another in order to open a passage to the next area or locating a lever which opens doors or lowers bridges.
The game has a very basic premise which barely needs consideration as plot doesn’t seem to be a driving force in it. A virtual Disney Universe had been created for people to visit and enjoy at their leisure, cared for by a blue cube named Vic. Trouble began when an evil cube named Hex arrived and took over turning the Universe bots into menacing enemies. Vic enlists the help of you (a guest) to restore the Universe and defeat Hex.
The Universe is divided into Worlds. Each World represents a Disney film. The first World that is available to you is the ‘Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides’ World. The rest are locked until you buy them for 2000 gold each. That sounds like a lot, but collecting gold is so easy you will be able to unlock them in no time.
You are then given options of which costume to wear. You initially have the choice between Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck, Angelica from the Pirates World, Tron, Hal from the Wall-E World, Princess Jasmine, Randall from the Monsters Inc World, Pumbaa the Warthog and the Cheshire Cat.
These costumes allow you to play as a representation of your favourite character, though they all act the same and none have any unique abilities. This is due to them being a costume rather than the actual character.
Each World contains three Locations and within those Locations are three Levels. At the end of each location you are able to rescue another guest, (usually after a boss fight) which allows you to purchase their costume for gold.
As mentioned, collecting gold is very easy. You will find a lot of the Mickey shaped money simply laying around levels, even more in breakable barrels and objects and yet more is dropped by defeated or damaged enemies. If you die, (the game avoids using this word and says ‘defeat’) you drop some gold, but on respawning you may be able to grab some of it back.
Besides coins, there are other collectibles too. Each Level has three collectible items unique to the World such as ships in bottles or ‘Drink-Me’ potions. Collecting all three will unlock a reward in the menu such as music, concept art or info on enemies.
Each level also contains a blue star, usually in a chest which requires a key to open. Gaining the blue star raised your costume up a level, making them stronger with increased attack.
When your character increases a level, their weapon will change to represent their new strength: Cheshire Cat begins with an orange mushroom which becomes blue at level 2. At level 3 he gains a green lollypop and finally a red mushroom at level 4. The weapons are as individual as the costumes as Iago goes from a red and yellow feather to a wooden plank, to a sceptre and ultimately a bejewelled sceptre, while Hal begins with a traffic cone, then moves on to a broken bottle, a piggy bank on a stick and a globe on a stick. Meanwhile Jack Sparrow trades in his cutlass for an inflatable parrot, Aztec coin on a stick and finally a skull and crossbones staff.
The levels provide simple objectives to follow in order to get through each level. It may tell you to open a doorway and your task will be to find out how to do so. Blue arrows point to where you need to go to find helpful objects, but these can be switched off to provide more of a challenge. For young gamers, this could be a great help to develop problem solving skills.
To help you along, besides the movable items are Blue Cube power-ups which give you a special attack or defence for a short time, rideable creatures which have their own unique attacks and various tools unique to specific worlds.
At some points in Levels, an arcade machine may appear. Using it will begin a special challenge which may involve defeating a number of enemies or surviving for a certain amount of time while avoiding hazards.
Enemies come in different forms, from small quick ones to large bulking slower ones as well as flying enemies and bosses each outfitted to match the World they are in. They somewhat resemble the Heartless from the‘Kingdom Hearts’ series. Fighting is a quite manic activity as swarms of bad guys crowd the screen and you have only a jump and attack button to defend yourself. You have a slam move which hits harder and you may find bombs laying around the playing field to help. Some enemies can also be countered by pressing triangle at the right moment.
One of the most interesting things that enemies will do is to build while you fight. They may build a cannon or a trap for you which you will then need to destroy. Enemies might also take apart anything you have previously put together to add further hindrance.
A difficulty in fighting is that your health bar is shown as a ring around your characters feet. It can be difficult to see it often when enemy hordes are surrounding you or you are moving to fast to follow. You may find yourself falling dead (defeated) without realising you were in trouble at all.
At the end of each Location you are awarded a score for how well you performed based on coin collection, enemies defeated, challenges met and how many times you respawned.
You may then return to the costumes area and buy any costumes that you have unlocked or change. This area will also tell you what you need to do in order to unlock what you are missing.
Some costumes require you to complete a Location a second time. On your second entry into a World you will find that Hex has made the challenges more difficult and added more and tougher enemies to stop you, even to the inclusion of extra boss characters returning.
One of the downsides to the game is the loading times. Though they aren’t terribly long, they are regular and slightly long enough to be irritating.
Another downside is that the game seems to intend to rely on a lot of downloadable content in the future to expand the Universe. Though this will broaden the play and make a bigger game, it is likely to call for further costs.
The game originally comes with six Worlds, which for a PS3 game is not a huge amount. Kingdom Hearts on PS2 had more than ten, and each was arguably bigger.
The soundtrack will likely receive mixed responses. It consists of remixes of original soundtracks which you may enjoy or you may be left wishing for the unchanged music.
For gaming beginners, particularly fans of Disney, this is a great place to start. The multiplayer makes for good family entertainment, and the challenges can help them develop their skills. Seeing as this is the target audience, they have hit their mark perfectly. For slightly older generations, there are other platformers that would be better suited. For older Disney fans, I would suggest sticking to Kingdom Hearts.