Platforms: 3DS, 2DS
Release Date: April 11th
What if you were told there was a game that combines the aspects of Animal Crossing and Rune Factory with a dash of Kingdom Hearts? Sounds pretty awesome, right? Well that’s what Disney’s Magical World strives to provide for it’s players. Through the 10 or so hours I spent with the game, I made friends with various Disney characters, planted crops, fought ghosts in dungeons, danced and fished. I crafted furniture and dishes, made matching outfits for various quests and functions. There’s certainly plenty to do in Disney’s Magical World. But is any of it any fun?
A Very Specific Audience
I will never be ashamed to admit I enjoyed something because its subject matter might not be appropriate for someone like me who is a white male in his mid-30s. When I heard about Bronys, my thoughts weren’t “these people are weird freaks!” I thought maybe I should check this new My Little Pony show out (for the record I watched several episodes and thought the show was fine, but didn’t really understand why it had such a wide appeal).
That being said, Disney’s Magical World is clearly built for little girls. You can play as a boy, but a large majority of the things you do are strongly geared toward things you normally think little girls would enjoy. Getting ready for a ball at Cinderella’s Palace! Tea Parties! Gardening! Hell, when your avatar changes outfits at Daisy’s Boutique, they pirouette! There is a fairly fun fishing minigame, and while there are dungeons where you battle ghosts, they take up a pretty small part of the overall game. Boys allowed, but it’s clearly a girls club, and hey, that’s fine. There aren’t a lot of games targeted at young girls, and most of those are complete garbage.
Carrot On A Stick(er)
Stickers are the goal in Disney’s Magical World — the more you collect, the more the world opens up. This may mean more outfits or furniture are available, but it may also mean new quests unlock or even whole new areas. Luckily there are a myriad of ways to accomplish this. Make some dishes? STICKER. Complete several events? STICKER. Catch some new fish? STICKER!
And it’s not the only way the game moves along at a nice clip. In games like Rune Factory and Animal Crossing, there can be a lot of downtime with little or nothing to do. Check on your cafe and make sure everything is stocked (and refill if it’s not), grow crops (which grow pretty quick), fish (which is better and more engaging than it is in Animal Crossing) or gather materials. I played Animal Crossing for months before getting bored with it, but only an hour or so at a time. This is easily Disney’s Magical Kingdom’s greatest strength, that it does work pretty hard at keeping you playing and engaged on some level. You can play for hours and not really run out of things to do very easily, and the quick tangible rewards make you want to keep playing.
Jack Of All Trades, Master Of None
Unfortunately, the trade off is that virtually nothing is deep and engaging in Disney’s Magical World. You say that’s ok, it’s just a kid’s game! I say bull, that’s insulting to young gamers and kills crossover appeal. The combat in dungeons is repetitive and boring. There’s no challenge to running the cafe, as you simply gather ingredients, make dishes with them with no effort, and your staff does the rest while you wait for everything to sell out and collect money. It’d be awesome if there was a Diner Dash-esque mini-game you could do, or at least try staff with different strengths and weaknesses. Gardening? Just plant something, wait a few minutes and it’s done. You can’t possibly screw that up by say, waiting too long or over-watering them. Again, I get that this is aimed at kids, but I see a lot of wasted potential. The one real highlight for me was the fishing, which while simple, was more engaging and made a lot more sense than fishing in Animal Crossing.
An Empty Castle(ton)
Still, a lot of that could be ignored if Disney’s Magical World was filled with awesome fan service. You know, filled with the characters you know and love and that oh so classic memorable Disney music we are all so fond of. That’s pretty much nowhere to be found. Seriously, you might meet various denizens of the Magic Kingdom, but they are mere husks of the characters, with no voice acting and none of the personality the characters are known for. They are just there, basically existing as standing props. Maybe kids won’t care, but me at age 10 would be pretty annoyed that Donald Duck is just a dude who stands around the fishing hole all day, or that Pete is just down at the docks doing nothing rather than trying to ruin Mickey like he usually does.
And the music is just ear-bleedingly awful. They seriously couldn’t get classic Disney music for this game? Instead we get very generic tunes that get old fast. I can’t even think of an excuse for this other than pure laziness. If I go to Agrabah, I better be hearing “Arabian Nights,” not “Generic Track #4.”
Disney’s Magical World is essentially a lot of potential wasted. I’m sure kids will buy it in droves because it has Disney slapped right on the front with Mickey and pals, and they could certainly do worse as far as kids’ games go. But it could’ve had a real all-ages appeal with fun involved systems at play and real interactions with classic Disney characters along with that great legendary music. It actually makes me want to go back to Animal Crossing for the great music and fun quirky neighbors I enjoyed spending hours upon hours with again, because you won’t find much magic in Disney’s Magical World.