With so much
to play, collect and unlock, there’s a helluva lot to love about Disney
Universe. However, it’s a little difficult to assume that most of you reading
are going to be the ones loving it. So, if you’re in the minority of people who
looked at our recent reviews of Uncharted 3 or Arkham City and said “Meh, that’s
not for me… got anything simpler?” then Disney Universe might have something to
Speaking as people
who are fans of all things Disney to the point of being almost creepy and
obnoxious, we were perfectly content to run around and unlock the 50+ classic
character costumes, while enjoying the cleverly re-created animated locations
set to music that consists of remixed hyper-memorable anthems. Unfortunately,
that appeal probably isn’t broad enough to compensate for what most of the
hardcore will see as a repetitive, consequence-free button masher of the
Universe is one small spoonful of LittleBigPlanet, yet has a whole lot more in
common with LEGO games. Those games are simplistic, all-inclusive experiences
built to be enjoyed by anyone and everyone. They present you with instantly
understandable interactivity, then shell it in a franchise you already love.
Disney Universe has plenty of that, although it doesn’t play with the films and
characters as charmingly, or as humorously, and the situations are rarely
rooted in anything referentially specific enough to qualify as “fan service.”
six worlds are immediately recognizable, and each location is remarkably
varied. Whether you’re solving puzzles, platforming to higher altitudes, or
simply running left to right, each level is incredibly distinctive and unique
in the hint-heavy goals Disney Universe presents. The combat, however, consists
of a single button and can grow a bit tedious when playing solo. There’s usually
far too much occurring on onscreen to form anything remotely strategic, so we
died a lot. There’s no penalty other than a couple of lost coins and wasted
time, although that soothes very little when you can barely tell from when or
where you’re being attacked.
don’t really matter until you jump in with other players anyway, which is where
Disney Universe starts to make much
more sense. Tackling enemies with your friends cooperatively makes everything
more manageable, and more importantly, more fun. You work together toward a
common competition goal, and then at the end of a level, collected coins,
stars, and the amount of times you respawn get factored into your final score.
Basically, there’s no real winner per se, but there are certainly bragging
rights to be earned.
Of course, our
affection for Disney is deeply rooted in our childhood, so it’s easy for us to put
ourselves in smaller shoes and see the appeal. We would’ve lost our preteen minds
over something like Disney Universe back when we were rockin’ out with
Battletoads and Ninja Turtles, and easily would’ve invested countless hours
into this thing. There are so many hidden challenges and costumes that you’ve
got a ridiculous number of playable incentives to revisit every level multiple
times. Better still, Disney Universe allows players to make a playlist of the
levels they like and play them in the order of their choosing.
Level Playlist is a phenomenal technological innovation every game could take a page from, other modern aspects might not
work for this game. Let’s be honest… six worlds does not a Universe make! But
with a solid framework set in place, it’s pretty clear DU has DLC on the brain.
We’d love to download new costumes and levels themed after Disney creations (preferably
some older than twenty years) but is that lasting appeal going to be utilized
when your primary audience is too young to apply for a credit card?
other way to slice it: Disney Universe is for kids. Or perhaps for you and your
kids. Much like the brand itself, the gameplay in Disney Universe is timeless,
in that it’s widely accessible and easy to understand. However, if you’re
looking for something deeper and more satisfyingly complex, there’s not quite
enough on the disc to stand on Disney fandom alone.