Publisher: Disney Interactive Studios
Players: One - Four
Platform: Xbox 360
Launch Date: 28th October 2011
Disney in recent years has had many hits and misses when it comes to the gaming world, with a lot of movie tie in games being released and most coming out to poor reviews. Disney with the help of Eurocom decided it was time to try something new in the shape and form of Disney Universe.
Disney Universe is a platformer at heart but features a spin on the formula, by letting the player choose from different characters or should we say suits to play as. The main question is though, is Disney Universe really worth your hard earned money and is this game better than all of those movie tie-ins that have been released over the years.
Read on to find out what we really thought of the game in our in depth review.
Gameplay Ė 8/10
With Disney Universe being primarily aimed at the younger generations it is fair to say that the developers Eurocom wanted to keep things as simple as possible, and with that they succeeded pretty well.
From the basic interface of the main menu you can tell that being as simple as possible was the main goal, with just a few options to select from on a simple radial format to browse through its made clear and easy for the user without ever fearing of entering the wrong mode or getting lost.
The way the game plays out in game is just as simple if a little more convoluted though, the game is a basic platformer that lets the player play through the levels beating up enemies and collecting coins and hidden collectibles that are scoured around the level. The difference between this platformer and all of the others though is that this is set out in a more challenging perspective.
You will have to work your way through many puzzles during your time in game, some will be quick and easy whilst some of the others will borderline and the long and chore-some. The puzzles will help teach children to think and learn whilst playing the game, whilst also thinking two to three steps ahead of the game at all times to figure out what you are going to be doing next.
The levels are split up into what the game likes to call worlds, these worlds are based upon top selling franchises in the Disney universe such as Lion King, Aladdin and Wall-E the worlds are then comprised of three levels that the player will have to go through. These three levels are also broken down into three smaller levels and this is where you will find yourself beating levels with ease and in quick time also.
A look around the Alice in Wonderland world
Overall you need to beat nine levels overall to beat a world, and once the world is beaten you will be based on how well you did and given a medal for that world. The medals range from bronze all the way to gold and the only way to get a gold medal is to play through each world twice, making sure to get all of the hidden collectibles, power up stars and winning all of nine of the random challenges.
As I mentioned previously, there are a number of collectibles that are scattered across each of the individual levels, three to be exact meaning you will need twenty seven collectibles to have them all in a single world. The collectibles can range on the very easy to find to the type that will take some out of camera angle work to get to or may just drop when you get to boss fights. All are relatively easy to find though and getting all of them that the game holds probably wonít be much of a choir. If you do manage to find them all then you can unlock many of the games hidden goodies like music tracks and concept art.
On top of the collectibles you have blue stars that are hidden inside treasure chests. To be able to get to the blue stars that are held within you need to be able to open up the treasure chests first, to do this you need to find hidden gold keys that are located around the various levels. You will get one chest and key per level that must be found in order to get access to the blue star.
Once the player has managed to get inside the treasure chest, the blue star will fall out and if you walk over it your characters suit will level up to the next level. With four levels available for each suit you will need to find three stars to fully upgrade it. What the upgrade offer though is a better weapon that you will be able to go and attack the enemies with.
Challenges are also available for the player to take on if they so wish and are normal random meta games that will provide some challenge to whoever takes them on. The challenges if completed successfully will not only help towards getting the gold on that level/world but it will also award the player with some coins that they will be able to spend in the shop if they wish to. If you fail a challenge you will have to replay the whole level again to give it another shot as the challenges are non replayable once you have chosen to start them.
The game does offer a local multiplayer component where you and up to three other friends can all work your way through the worlds, how you play though is up to you, you can decide to work together and tackle all the foes that come your way or you can decide to work against each other and try to kill each other off so that you take your partners gold from them. Itís a fun little twist onto the game and makes working your way through all that more fun.
The game is simple and its simple for a reason its is a game that is aimed primarily at children and because of that the platforming aspect of the game is right on cue with being challenging but fun to play. Adults can easily get involved in the game and lose themselves in the wonderfully crafted world of Disney Universe and again the gameplay will be nice and easy to pick up and play for any age with the game offering hints when you may need them.
Just when it started to look normal, you go and get attacked by a giant fork?
Graphics Ė 8/10
If I was to put graphics simply, I would say they are simple yet very effective, but obviously going into more detail when you first boot up the game, the games menu and presentation screen look rather dull and drab. Because the game is called Disney Universe, itís easy to tell that they have tried to go for a universe-esc theme but it doesnít really work all that well and it does look pretty boring to look at.
Things are saved ever so slightly though by the text jumping in and out of position to the beat of the background music, but other then that if you were to take out the music you wouldnít really recognise any of the text on the screen.
Onto the actual gameplay side of the graphics though, the game is bright and vibrant, whilst the level design may be a tad on short side all of the levels and worlds are fully realised and fleshed out whilst keeping in theme with what made the movie counterparts so great to watch.
No one world will look anything like the previous world that you may have worked through, take for example the Lion King world looks very much like an average trek through the African wilderness but obviously with that Lion King twist from the movies, compared to the futuristic setting of the Monsters Inc world.
Even the darker fantasy world of Alice in Wonderland is brimming full of colour and everything just looks great to look at, the game doesnít feature any type of slow down either.
The characters themselves look rather decent, they will easily appeal to children and the way they have been created will no doubt provide some giggles with the animations that have been built into what they do when you start a level or take on enemies. Enemies on the other hand though look again rather dull and drab with some appearing time after time which will no doubt getting pretty boring very quickly.
Depending on the world that you are replaying in though some of the smaller enemies will be different depending on the location, for instance in the Pirates of the Caribbean setting most of the enemies will try to attack you whilst wearing pirate outfits to keep in with character of the setting, whilst enemies in the Alice in Wonderland area will have a few enemies that attack you that will tie into the theme of that world.
You will be happy to hear though that many of the characters from all of Disneys smash hit films over the years also make some what of a return. Whilst the characters donít actually make a full appearance in the game, the game is quick to let you know that you can actually run around in costumes of those characters and be a part of the game as your favourite Disney character be it Mickey Mouse or even Pumba from the Lion King.
Itís hard to describe where improvement could have been added to make the graphics better then they already are, but what I would have suggested is that the levels themselves were slightly longer and not so easy to just run through. The level design is quite spectacular but it doesnít make up for how short they are.
That guy does not look impressed
Sound Ė 7/10
Disney Universe doesnít contain much in the way of sound, for a game like this there is barely any voice over work which isnít necessarily a bad thing. Most of the cut scenes are made up of the enemy bots talking in a muffled type of way, and normally with the outcome of the cut scenes this helps to add to the overall comedy factor.
The game does feature a lot of different types of music which really help set the moods for the menus and all of the different levels that you will be playing on. Whether youíre on the upbeat dance music on the main menu to the more fantasy-esc music for the Alice in Wonderland or Pirate of the Caribbean stages, there is plenty of variety to be had. The only downfall though is that with each stage the music is fairly limited and will only consist of one or two different tracks which will obviously be on a loop.
This can get a little tiresome after awhile but luckily the tempo does pick up as you are about to go into a heated battle to face off against your foes and once dispatched the music will normally return back to its normal state to let you know that you have nothing else to take on.
Sound effects wise what the game does offer to the player is satisfactory for this game type, seeing as you will be doing plenty of hacking and slashing you will hear a lot of swings from your weapon and your enemies trying to attack you. Pretty much the sound effects that the game does offer to you, will be the majority of what you hear whilst playing the game apart from the music of course.
Whilst the game doesnít feature much in the way of sound, what it does offer though is more then suitably fitting for a family fun adventure game like this, sure maybe giving the aliens some sort of voice would have been good. But with the childish mumbles that are going on, these will really help young children relate more to the game.
Disneys take on the Avengers, meet Aladdin, Simba, Nemo, and a monkey. Be warned!
Difficulty Ė 5/10
Being a game aimed at children Disney Universe really isnít that difficult. This is mainly down to the fact that each of the stages that you will have to play through really arenít that large, each area is pretty small with many different and well thought out puzzles for children to work out.
The short stages mean that without too much effort you will be starting an area and within a few minutes that level will be complete and you will find yourself on the next loading screen waiting for your next level to load up.
The enemies that you will take on in the game are all pretty easy to take on, some of the bigger types of enemies will take more of a tactical approach to take down but none will be all that difficult to dispose of, add in the fact that you canít actually die in the game, makes this even easier to work your way through. If you do go down you will simply respawn a few yards away from where you were struck down.
Whilst the enemies may be easy to kill, you will soon notice though that your health meter is made up of that you can withstand three hits from the smaller enemies and one to two from the larger ones, sometimes when you get surrounded by enemies even though you will be swinging away frantically you will still get downed rather easily by a few hits.
One of the more interesting aspects of the difficulty level of the game though is that when you start the game you will not be asked to choose a difficulty level, instead you will just be placed on the default level that the game has, upon completing a level if you decide to return to it at a later date and play through it again you will notice that the difficulty of that level as been slightly increased to make it a little more challenging to complete a second time. This was a rather nice touch as it will take slightly longer to kill the enemies now and they can down you faster then before.
If you are also going go try and find all of the collectibles in the game you will be glad to know that most if not all are rather easy to find and get to, there will be one or two that will be challenging to locate and you may need to go off route slightly to find them.
All in all the difficulty level of the game may be challenging to young children but for adult gamers, you will find this to be a bit of a breeze to fly through.
Even the darker levels beam with colour
Achievements - 7/10
The achievements in Disney Universe are rather simple to achieve, the game comes loaded with forty achievements for the standard one thousand score, and most will be gained by simply progressing through many of the games levels and completing them.
By simply completing the game you will net yourself a fair amount of the score that the game has to offer, but there is more to it then just that. If you go about trying to get all of the collectibles that the game has to offer you earn a few achievements for doing those, but these will also add on to you getting the achievement for getting gold medals on all of the worlds.
Itís not just about getting as much done in the levels as possible, you also have achievements for fully levelling up each suit and with there being many different suits in the game this will no doubt spread across two playthroughs of the game possibly even more.
With the local multiplayer aspect of the game there is a few achievements tied to killing off your team mates a numerous amount of times in a level or by doing various little things such as disposing of a friend by throwing them.
There is a nice variety in the achievement list and like I previously stated to get all the achievements the game as to offer you will no doubt have to play through multiple times to find all of the collectibles and level up stars. It is undoubtedly an easy list aimed at children but itís also a list that will take some time to achieve everything in.
Disney Universe is a game of a decent length that will easily appeal to children of any age as they enter into the many different worlds that the Disney Empire is most famous for. Adults alike will find this game as one that they can easily sit down and work through as a nice change of pace from all of those other sports and shooter games currently on the market.
Whilst the game isnít perfect, this is easily one of the better games Disney has released onto the Xbox 360 platform and they could easily make a second game in the series by going into many of the other worlds that are currently available for use.
Whether you buy this game now or wait until Christmas to pick it up, this really should be one of those games you get for your children if you have any as they will no doubt spend countless hours playing through it.