[Note: Kids Corner is a new feature review where some of us parents will review games, and include our kids' opinions and our impressions as both reviewers and parents. Keep a look out for many more in the future! -DP]
Imagine, if you will, a game with an assortment of Disney characters romping around levels designed in Disney-themed levels where you can not only solve puzzles but smash bad guys at the same time. Now open your eyes and behold, Disney Universe. This family friendly game has dozens of costumes to dress up as and a handful of worlds to explore, and is our first featured “Kids Corner” review. I was accompanied by both my wife and 7-year old son for this adventure, and our 2-year old son watched quite a bit.
Adult Basic Review
The basic story is you are at a Disney resort, and the robots were all hacked and have turned against the tourists (you). So you suit up in a Disney character outfit, and fight back. You start with one world, and a nice assortment of suits to dress-up in, but pretty much the majority of the game is locked content that you buy via gold collected by playing.
Each world has three stages, which has three areas; two puzzle areas and then a boss stage. There’s plenty of things to collect and find, too. Each area has a few collectibles (they vary per world; for instance, in The Lion King, you collect grub worms), a challenge that opens up at some point (avoiding raining fireballs, or collecting so much gold, etc.), a star that levels up your suit (each suit has 4 levels, and each level is represented by a new weapon or “tool” as Disney calls it), and of course gold.
The unique environments are really the perk of this game. Especially the Monsters, Inc. world, where you used doors to teleport between rooms. It kept things fresh, but the main objective of smashing things and the repetitive flow kept me from really getting into it when playing by myself.
The biggest draw here for adults is the array of Disney costumes. You unlock a new costume at the end of each boss stage, and then another one for playing the level a second time (the second playthrough didn’t vary like I thought it would, either, or at least from what I could tell), but the costumes themselves don’t grant any special powers or abilities. That said, it was fun to run around as the various characters from Disney movies and upgrade their suits.
Lastly, there is no online play, which is a shame. My wife and her best friend would have played this game to no end like they did LittleBigPlanet together.
Kid Solo Impression
My son loves Disney, loves action, and loves choices. This game appeased every aspect of that for him, and even when he wasn’t playing, he was talking about the game. Disney Universe is incredibly intuitive and has help arrows that guide you in the direction you need to be going if you need them. Unlike the LEGO games, which my son also loves, this little help feature helped him out a great deal, and rarely did I have to sit down and figure out where he was going or what he had to do (a frequent problem in the LEGO series).
Even with the limited number of costumes unlocked in the beginning was not a complaint, as my son reacted with some form of amusement as he scrolled through each one. And unlocking new ones got the same sort of reaction, “OH COOL, NEMO!”. And my two year old enjoyed watching the cute little characters run around smashing things, so it was good fun for everyone.
When I asked “if you had to rate the game 1 to 5 (insert explanation here), what would you rate it? And is it one of your favorite games?” I was answered with:
“Hm. 5. I wouldn’t change anything, it’s pretty great. And it’s my favorite game, I really like playing with you , we make a good team.”
I kid you not, that is verbatim.
Quick Co-op Impressions
We only played together a few times, and getting two people with short attention spans to work together is kind of a pain. And the camera zooms out so you can do your own thing, but that doesn’t work well when everything gets small and it’s hard to see who you are. That said, it was a lot of fun getting involved with my son, and both of us having fun. He would ask if I would come hold a switch down so he could nap some gold, and giggled when he would “accidently” steal something from me. Of course, I retaliated and froze him with the Medusa mask. By “accident”.
For gamer parents wanting to get involved in a game with their kids, Disney Universe does the trick, and does it for all ages. Even as a game for adults without kids, this game has a lot to offer, especially for fans of the various Disney franchises.
Pros: lots of unlockables, cute graphical style, fun co-op, easy for kids to pick up
Cons: no online, fixed camera
Overall Score: 4/5