Nov 3, 2011

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Disney Universe Review

Disney Universe Review

Rarely, we see games that seem poor conceptually, but turn out to be amazing. A prime example would be Kingdom Hearts. Many believed that a Disney/Square game would be awful, though the opposite happened. After so much success, Disney is trying their luck again with Disney Universe, in which LittleBigPlanet meets Disney. Seems like another great mash-up, right? How could there be a problem?

Disney Universe starts with a simple explanation of the world. Apparently, people pay to relive classic movies. However, something goes awry, and the robots attack the guests. After this explanation, not a single bit of story occurs till the end. Worst yet, there isn’t a reason for the attack, or any logic as to how you won. The whole story feels underwhelming, like the developer forgot it existed. Normally this wouldn’t be important, but we have come to expect a little more from Disney.

Contrary to looks, Disney Universe plays closer to Ratchet and Clank than LittleBigPlanet. Every world has three stages, and those stages have three areas. Each area is a fairly small place, where you need to complete a needless puzzle. Many of the puzzles involve opening door, after door, after door, to get an item needed to finish the level. Beyond the puzzles, the game is surprisingly combat heavy.

Every fight is fairly routine and can get boring. Considering you have no range attacks, special attacks, or anything extra, you’re forced to spam square till they’re all dead. Most enemies will, however, attack you with ranged, built items (turret, spike trap, etc.), plus large enemies have instant kills. Through it all, only certain attacks can be dodged. If you miss the cue or don’t get it, well, then you’re simply out of luck.

Like the short-sighted combat, the leveling is just as bad. Every stage has three stars, and that’s all you need to max out. This wouldn’t be a problem if there was a real point to the game. Every level gives you a new unique weapon and more power, but that’s it. Also, when you consider that one stage out of eighteen can finish off a character, I felt highly compelled to level other characters. This usually meant not playing as the character I liked.

The Disney universe is fairly large, and with 100+ sources, you would expect more than you get. Only around 15 series are represented. This can become confusing when Tron gets four or more costumes, but Toy Story is completely missing. The vast majority of costumes come from the basis of six levels. Only 15 costumes come from series not featured in a level. DLC might expand upon this, but all current data suggest it won’t help much.

Adding to the long list of problems is the multiplayer. You’re given a similar experience as Ratchet and Clank, but nothing requires team work. In addition, you’re given no option for online, either. This can make the required two cycles for every costume a longer grind. Multiplayer might not help much, but it would help cut down on the pointlessness of the puzzles. Just having some help against enemies would have made me enjoy it far more.

While it shouldn’t be a shock, many of the stages look very nice. They’re tailor made for the world and give you some interesting designs. I really enjoyed looking at some of the scenery, but it’s a shame the worlds aren’t more vast.

You’re looking at maybe a six-hour game, and no assurance of fun. Many of the costumes are squandered on pointless characters (sushi chef–I mean, really?), but you’re not even given clues how to unlock the people you want. I couldn’t see a kid having fun, and I am quite sure an adult would hate it. This game just feels phoned in and if you want it, well, wait till it’s in the bargain bin.

Disney Universe
Platform: Xbox 360, PS3 (Reviewed), Wii
Genre: Action Adventure
Release Date: 10/25/2011
Developer: Eurocom
Publisher: Disney Interactive Studios
ESRB Rating: E (Everyone)
MSRP: $59.99