Players Become A Sorcerer’s Apprentice in Fantasia: Music Evolved

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Copyright Disney

There is finally a new Fantasia fix for Disney fans, but it’s not a movie.

Harmonix, the company behind other interactive music and movement-base games like Rock Band and the Dance Central series, has joined with Disney Interactive Studios for Fantasia: Music Evolved, a new motion-controlled rhythm and music game inspired by Disney’s 1940 masterpiece Fantasia, and its sequel, Fantasia 2000.

With Fantasia: Music Evolved, the player takes on the role of a sorcerer’s apprentice, working to perform tasks and objectives set by Yen Sid, The Sorcerer.

This game is not a traditional dance game, as the gesture-based motion format allows players to manipulate environments and find hidden interactive secrets, and act as mixer and conductor on the songs. It focuses heavily on creativity and musical control, and players gain points with their musical accuracy. A plus for younger players, is there is no actual way to fail at a level or “lose” the game. The better the player, however, the more rewards, unlocked goodies, and points gained.

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Players of the new Fantasia-based game rely on their creativity and musical timing. Image capture from Fantasia: Music Evolved official trailer. Copyright Disney.

The game also features a two-player mode, and unlocked gaming modes include a party mode, where players have access to all the game’s songs.

However, the shining star of this game is the music,  and the soundtrack to Fantasia: Music Evolved is quite extensive. It not only features some of the classical favorites by Vivaldi, Bach, Liszt and Mussorgsky, it includes new original music by award-wining game music composer Inon Zur. There are also more than 30 contemporary and classic rock hits from a diverse array of artists including Depeche Mode, Bruno Mars, Jimi Hendrix, Lorde, David Bowie, Avicii, The Who, The White Stripes, and several others. A bonus limited edition three-song bundle of additional music is also available with some purchases, and digital versions of the game offer remix expansion packs.

The game was released last month, and is currently available only on Xbox’s Kinect, Xbox 360, and Xbox One. There is also a soundtrack featuring the game’s original music and classical pieces performed by Zur. Renowned orchestras, such as London Symphony Orchestra, and other artists work have been collected together and are available on CD  or can be downloaded.

The game sells for around $59.99 for the Xbox One version, $49.99 for Kinect version, $49.99 for XBox 360, at retail venues including Best Buy, Wal-Mart, Target, and Gamestop. Cost is around $10 less on Amazon.

Those looking for a hefty story-line and heavily challenging skill levels might be disappointed. For those seeking a colorful, visually beautiful trip through mesmerizing worlds, accompanied by excellent music of several genres, this is a perfect afternoon gaming getaway for families.

Star Wars Kinect "I'm Han Solo" Galactic Dance Off

Of all the things I nerd out over, and the list is a long one, Star Wars is at the top. This makes today a very special day because it marks the release of the Star Wars Kinect game and Xbox 360 styled like R2-D2 with a Threepio controller. I played the demo and thought it was great and now they’ve added something that takes it from great to amazing. There’s a Galactic Dance Off where you can dance along with Han to the mc chris parody “I’m Han Solo.” I’ve died and gone to nerd heaven.

I’m sure there are more than a few fanboys out there who are screaming and flailing at the idea of their favorite scruffy looking nerfherder getting his groove on with some Cloud City employees, but relax. Even a smuggler needs some down time and, really, what better song could they pick? The parody of Jason Derulo’s “Riding Solo” is so good to begin with that when you add in a dancing, animated Han Solo what’s not to love? They even have Lando take the floor half way through to show Han how it’s really done.

Is it cheesy? Heck, yes. Does it make any sense that they’d be dancing in Cloud City with random employees while R2-D2 and Threepio standby and Lobot plays DJ? Of course not. But that’s not the point. It’s impossible to watch this without smiling at the absurdity of it all. It’s like a little Easter egg just for fans that love anything and everything about Star Wars.

I know that I’m going to have a blast playing Star Wars Kinect even if there are some who feel that the whole dance off ruins everything. I think it’s awesome. If we survived Greedo shooting Han at the cantina and the existence of Jar-Jar Binks, then this one should be easy to manage. Now I’m off to pick up my game. See you on the dance floor, Solo.

Now that I have the game, I need to correct that the lyrics to this version of “I’m Han Solo” are not the same as those in the mc chris parody.

Kinect for Kids

 

My daughter trains her Kinectimal bear at Kinect for Kids. Photo: Amy Kraft

My daughter and I recently attended an event called Kinect for Kids, where we scarfed down mini-burgers and tried out the latest batch of XBox Kinect games for kids. For the longest time XBox ignored the little kid market, but now they’re poised to take a bite out of Nintendo’s market share. We only played the games for a few minutes at a time, but here is a list of the ones we’re most excited about.

Kinectimals: Now with Bears wins the warm and fuzzy award. The bears are absolutely adorable, responding happily when you train them, catch fish for them, and play games with them. In a brilliant stroke of cross-promotion, you can make special Kinectimal bears at Build-a-Bear Workshop and have them appear in the game.  (Microsoft, $49.99, available now)

Screenshot: Microsoft

Now, I’m not a Disney fan in the way that some of my fellow GeekMoms are, so I’m surprised at just how much I enjoy Disneyland Adventures. You can explore the beloved theme park, meeting and interacting with your favorite characters. You can also visit the attractions which provide fun, contextual minigames like flying with Peter Pan. From what we’ve played, the game is fun enough to transcend the fact that it’s a gigantic ad for Disneyland. (Microsoft, $49.99, releases 11/15/01)

Screenshot: LucasArts

My daughter was so transfixed by Disneyland Adventures that I had to watch kids play Kinect Star Wars from afar, waving thier arms wildly while engaged in epic lightsaber battles on screen. The action and the art look great enough to please the Star Wars fan in your family. (LucasArts, price and availability pending)

Screenshot: THQ

Puss in Boots looks similarly entertaining, with luscious art that looks like it was plucked straight from the movies. Oh, and swordfighting. Lots and lots of swordfighting, using special attacks like “Claw Frenzy”. (THQ, releases 11/1/11)

Screenshot: Warner Bros.

Finally, it’s exciting to see Sesame Street enter the Kinect space which is far and away the loveliest-looking Sesame game of all time, Once Upon A Monster. Cookie Monster and Elmo explore a storybook filled with monsters, helping the monsters in each chapter. I love that this isn’t a letters and number learn-y Sesame title, rather an exploration through a fantasy adventure. What’s surprising to me is that my 6-year-old daughter, who has long since outgrown Sesame Street, wanted to return to this game again and again. (Warner Bros., $49.99, available now)

I’ll be keeping my eye out, too, for other partnerships between Sesame Workshop and Microsoft on two different projects: Kinect Sesame Street TV, where kids can interact with classic clips from the Sesame Archive (in a bit of sample gameplay, we threw coconuts to Grover who counted them) and code-named “Project Columbia” which is described as “a one-of-a-kind way to bring storybooks to life, allowing controller-free interaction with picturesque worlds right in the living room.”

Check back for more in-depth reviews on some of these titles. We’re eager to take a deeper dive into the gameplay!