Every now and then there’s nothing better, as an adult, than sitting down with a mindless game and just having a laugh with your mates. Also, these kind of games are also perfect for keeping the kids quiet for a few hours and Disney Universe is the latest game to accomplish both these tasks. Feeling very similar to the LEGO games, Disney Universe plunges you into some of your favourite Disney worlds and allows you to control your favourite characters but does it do enough to rival its already well-established competitor?
If you’re looking for a deep story, stop right there, because Disney Universe doesn’t have it. Even though you will be playing the game in a variety of different worlds, such as The Lion King, Pirates of the Caribbean and Alice in Wonderland, you will be solving fairly simple puzzles whilst looking for a small number of collectables. Each world is broken up into three sections each containing three levels. These levels can range from solving puzzles that open up the doors or lower bridges, to boss battles where you need to fight off waves of enemies whilst trying to kill the boss in a particular way. For the most part these are enjoyable and children will be happy to play these over and over without getting bored. Once you have completed a level, you will be able to select it in the Playlist menu. This is a feature that allows you to set up nine levels of your choice to play solo or in four player co-op in any order you wish – not in the designated order the worlds have them in.
The great thing about Disney Universe is the characters. While exploring the murky streets of London in the Pirates of the Caribbean you aren’t forced to play as our favourite pirate but free to choose to play as Nemo, Mickey Mouse or any of the thirty or so costumes available. The characters are actually cast bots, little blue dudes, wearing costumes based off characters from a variety of different Disney films, not just those that appear in the game. Each character can ‘level up’ to four, which just changes their weapon and allows for a different power attack. Most of the characters feel the same when playing them but it’s the fact you can have Pumbaa rolling in the weirdness that is Alice in Wonderland or Jack Sparrow trying to find a bottle of grog in The Lion King that makes them fun. Unlocking new characters comes from finishing the third level in each section but still requires a full unlock by spending the coins you find throughout the levels. This is also how you unlock the other five worlds and by the time you get to the end of the game you should have most of the coins required to unlock everything.
Sadly, Disney Universe only supports local co-op, but when you have three friends round and you’re all fighting over the last kill, trying to grab a power up or filling your purse with the coins, it is a ton of fun and will have you in stiches from time to time. If the game featured Xbox Live support it would have been a lot better as having four friends round is usually a rare thing for most gamers and the solo gameplay doesn’t have the same frantic and fun gameplay the co-op offers. That’s not to say it’s boring but it just seems to drag on a little in single player and once you’ve experienced co-op you won’t want to play all by yourself again.
Visually, Disney Universe is a stunning game to look at and with a variety of different levels spanning various Disney universes, it never gets dull. The cast bot’s costumes are really well designed and easily recognisable even when characters are rushing around the levels completing the various tasks and collecting things. The music and sound effects are typical of Disney and go perfectly with the game’s pace and fit well in each level. The game also features a nice gallery full of concept art, the ability to play the different music featured in the game and also view the characters as 3D models, which was a nice addition. Also, for the addicts who buy this game you can find out all your statistics from the main menu providing information on everything from the coins you’ve collected to how many times you’ve died. The addition of a shop also hints that some more worlds will be added in the future as DLC and there are already some extra costumes that can be downloaded right now.
Quite simply, kids will thoroughly enjoy Disney Universe and just like their favourite films, will happily go through it time and time again. If you’ve ever played a LEGO game in the past this will most likely to appeal to you, although don’t expect the high amount of collectables that you are used to, but still, expect a ton of fun! Disney Universe is definitely a good group game to have over the Christmas period!