Games Review: Disney Universe

(Tested on PS3)

PROBABLY not the usual sort of game you expect to find reviewed in this column, but mashing-up the likes of Pirates of the Caribbean and Tron surely counts as science fantasy at the very least?

The pre-publicity for this action-adventure game sounded incredible, somehow blending disparate Disney worlds and characters from films ranging from The Lion King and Pirates to Wall-E and Aladdin. How would it work? What would happen with Jack Sparrow met Mickey Mouse for the first time?

Unfortunately the reality of the actual product fails to live up to this hype, offering instead avatars wearing heavily-stylised costumes based on the characters, who then explore six worlds vaguely based on Disney movies. So far so disappointing. Who wouldn’t have preferred to see a digitised Johnny Depp joining forces with Nemo rather than cute blue creatures dressed in what amounts to fancy dress?

But to compound the issue, many of the 60 available costumes have to be bought and downloaded, which swiftly hammers home Disney’s reputation for corporate capitalism, playing on the desires of young gamers who will undoubtedly nag their parents to help them collect the set, and leaving a bitter taste in the mouth as a result.

The game itself owes much to the legacy of the Lego franchise and Kingdom Hearts, an addictive combination of platforming and minor combat, collecting Mickey Mouse coins on the way, and solving the occasional puzzle (obviously telegraphed by big blue arrows which rather take away the challenge element!).

Fixed camera angles can prove somewhat restrictive, the actual platforming is nothing too hard, and any combat comes down to hitting lots of buttons at the same time, rather than working out specific combinations for certain moves. Naturally, being a Disney game you don’t even die when your health is depleted, but can respawn for an infinite amount of times.

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It’s all very simplistic, and although older gamers will find something to enjoy in the formula to begin with, it becomes very repetitive after a while, especially as some costumes can only be accessed when a stage has been played through twice.

The four-player cooperative mode is definitely one of the highlights, as you can fight against your friends by sabotaging their efforts and triggering traps, but ultimately, the saccharin-sweet characters, cutesy tunes and limited variations of the same basic tasks are going to grate on even the most committed Disney fan, and you’d probably be hard pressed to reach the conclusion.