It’s a game where Disney worlds collide and the player must run around beating up bad guys to restore order. What? ‘Kingdom Hearts 3?’ Don’t be silly, that’s a game that actually should be made. On tap at E3 2011 instead is Disney Universe, a ‘hilarious’ mish-mash of popular properties that has players running, jumping, picking things up, and putting things down like pros.
Actually, you don’t play as Disney’s popular characters in this title at all. The game has four-player cooperative play, and each person controls a LittleBigPlanet-esque kid dressed up like famous individuals from Disney’s movies. The disappointing part is that, although you can wear costumes based on Sully, Pumbaa, the Mad Hatter, Alice, Stitch, Tron, and more, they are purely aesthetic and do not affect the game one bit. It would add an element of strategy if Sully’s suit let you scare your enemies away, or if Stitch gave you an extra set of arms so that you could carry two objects at a time.
As it stands, the game is a fairly rudimentary 3D platformer. You go around environments like Wonderland and Monsters, Inc., fighting enemies themed after that movie’s villains and solving rudimentary puzzles. In the Wonderland level I got to try, my demoer and I were accosted by goons dressed as the card soldiers, which we could dispatch by swiping at them or (of course) jumping on their heads. There are puzzles to solve as well, many of which are made easier via coop. For instance, I had to shoot up to a platform above by getting fired out of the mad hatter’s hat. My partner then had to raise and lower bridges for me so I could get across to an item we needed. Nothing revolutionary, but it’s functional.
There are some other little distractions interspersed throughout that I actually found more fun than the main event. By touching a certain item, I started up a minigame in which our characters donned boxing gloves and we had to knock each other out (I... wasn’t the victor... we’ll leave it at that...). I was told that most levels will have optional minigames like this, so things will at least be switched up once in a while.
The graphics were a highlight of the game for me. They seem to have taken the dark, moody style they gave Disney Epic Mickey and applied it to their more well-known films. The landscapes are familiar, but something just seems foreboding about them, and the atmosphere just works really well.
If I seem bored by most of this, that’s because I am. Thus far, Disney Universe has done nothing to show me why I should pick it over all the other four-player platformers that have been cropping up recently. Outside of the art style, the game seems very rudimentary, and there is a lot they could have easily done to make it more unique, such as giving the costumes different attributes. Hopefully they can find some way to spice things up before the game launches. Stay tuned to gamrReview for more as Disney Universe nears release.