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Disney's online DS community launches today

Though the release of a new Disney film is normally followed only by the release of its tie-in game from Disney Interactive Studios, DIS has something else up its sleeve coming on the Prince Caspian DS game that's released concurrently with this week’s film. On the cart is DGamer, Disney’s online community that launches today.

DGamer, short for Disney Gamer (duh), is an online community with clean, Disney fun in mind. When you set up an account, you create an avatar, chat, compare stats, or just hang out and do whatever! It takes advantage of the DS Wi-Fi abilities and goes online, allowing for social networking outside of Nintendo's Friend Code craziness, which is pretty amazing, though Disney's security hurdles are no walk in the park.

By accessing parental controls at www.dgamer.com, adults can specify the level of interactivity their kids have online and be confident that their child’s experience is age appropriate. Parents can choose between three chat levels for their kids’ use by utilizing the security features at Disney.com, the host of the DGamer site. You can write to each other using “Speed Chat,” which uses pre-set phrases to communicate. For a little more freedom they can use “Speed Chat Plus,” which is slightly modified free-form chat that blocks inappropriate language. If you want to be truly free, you can use “Open Chat,” but only after you exchange a True Friend Code with the other person outside of the game, so no strangers can write dirty words to Timmy, and the chat rooms are monitored 24/7 just to be sure.

Once you get signed up is when it gets appealing, as DGamer interacts with what the player accomplishes in games, such as with Prince Caspian. Say you got to the end of a level in that game. A prompt then lets you know you just earned an "Honor" that has been added to your lists of Honors. They may not have a numerical value like, say, Achievements, but collecting them could be just as addictive. Especially since these could actually mean something.

As you earn Honors and other items in the games you play, special pieces get added to your digital locker that your friends on DGamer can see as well. When they peep, for instance, Cinderella's glass slippers in your collection, they are going to be sooooo jealous. Additionally, some items can be used for dressing up your avatar. Among them are Mickey ears, Buzz Lightyear’s costume and Prince Caspian's armor.

Though the DGamer's security system seems almost too tight for its own good, what it offers for free, ignoring you bought the game it came on, is pretty nice. And the version on Prince Caspian is only the beginning. According to Disney Interactive, this service will be on all its future DS games. For example, in the upcoming Spectrobes sequel it will allow for easy online battles. With it being on every future game, that allows for updated versions to be put on the later releases should the devs choose to fix anything.

May 15, 2008

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