Harmonix has been developing rhythm-based games for a long time, with a legacy that includes both the Rock Band and Dance Central series. That’s why when the company announced they were teaming up with Disney to develop a game based on the studios’ Fantasia films, it piqued the interest of many of us who know the kind of gameplay experiences Harmonix has been able to deliver over the years.
Magical Mystery Tour
Disney's Fantasia: Music Evolved starts off with the player becoming the new apprentice of Yen Sid, the same sorcerer featured in the 1940 animated film, Fantasia. In fact, the game makes several references to the film, especially in noting how the previous apprentice was just godawful compared to the player.
Players are able to control music played during various stages by simply waving their arms in a number of ways. Some of the basic gestures players will make include swiping in the air and punching towards the screen. With these basic gestures, Harmonix is able to keep the gameplay of Fantasia fresh by mixing them up with other inputs that includes holding a note in place, tracing the music on screen and a number of additional moves that the game holds the player’s hand to learn.
If you’re able to properly time your arm movements, you’ll earn points and also be rewarded with the current track being played the way it’s intended to sound. Missing an input will cause the music to sound hollow and will also end whatever streak you were currently experiencing. After several hours of playing Fantasia, I was very impressed by how well the game teamed up with the Kinect in order to accurately track my motions. Admittedly, I missed some cues here and there, but I’m confident it was mainly due to my own inability to keep up with the game rather than a fault with either the game or the hardware.
Feel the Beat
Fantasia's mix is eclectic. You’ll be able to play Tchaikovsky’s “The Nutcracker Suite” one moment, and then move on to Missy Elliot’s “Get Ur Freak On.” The modern tracks outnumber the classical, but I wish there were more classical selections as I can think of a good number of songs young whippersnappers would appreciate instead of always listening to your Lady Gagas and your Lordes. I also found it weird, this being a Disney game and named after a Disney animated musical, there were absolutely no well-known Disney tracks to play with.
Being able to play through classical and modern music is fun and all, but the real fun begins when you’re finally able to use remix cues to customize a track from the inside out. In Disney's Fantasia, remixing songs you're currently playing through is done through the use of remix cues. When a remix cue comes up, a successful input allows you to add a different musical flavor to your current track. The remix feature had me coming back to Disney's Fantasia more often that I originally anticipated as I was always curious as to what kind of pieces of musical genius I could remix on the spot. Best of all, Fantasia allows its players to upload their magical creations online, allowing the rest of the YouTube-watching world to enjoy them.
Disney's Fantasia doesn’t just expect a single person to conduct music while friends sit by and listen. Instead, the game invites others to join in on the experience. Multiplayer games allows each player to have a chance to throw in their own little mix into the orchestral pot as each player has a turn to choose how the song shapes up by alternating control of the remix cue. If you happen to have someone who knows what they’re doing, you can get a fantastic mix that hopefully everyone will enjoy. On the other hand, if your nana decides to partake in the fun, you could wind up with a funky mix.
... and Boy, Are My Arms Tired
One aspect of the game that I didn’t expect was just how fatigued my arms became after playing it for some time. Admittedly, I’m not in the greatest shape, so I believe my fatigue was just due to my prolonged inactivity. In any event, I found relief when I wasn’t exaggeratedly waving my arms around in order to attempt a particular input, although it’s hard not to want to give it my all each time I was playing. In other words: even though you’re just waving your arms around, make sure that you’re somewhat physically able to play Disney's Fantasia, or you’ll be spending more time taking breaks than playing the actual game.
Disney's Fantasia: Music Evolved should be considered one of the few reasons why Xbox One owners should own a Kinect. The title does a phenominal job of tracking the player's movements, bridges the gap between a video game and its player through the use of a highly-interactive medium, and can make the player really feel like they're in control of the music better than any other music game ever. My complaints about the game are few and are more nitpicking than anything, but at the end of the day, if you own an Xbox One and a Kinect, you should not hesitate to pick up Disney's Fantasia: Music Evolved.
Disney's Fantasia: Music Evolved
- Real sense of control over the music
- Nice mix of modern and classical music
- One word: Remix
- Lack of Classical and Disney songs
- Not for the phsyically unfit