For the first time since joining GeekMom 10 months ago, I actually took some initiative and contacted Disney Interactive for a review copy of their newest video game, Disney Universe. Not to toot my own horn, but till now I’ve either been invited to review something, or else I rode on the coattails of another GeekMom’s invitation. My sons saw the game advertised in magazines and were already asking for it for Christmas. But I told the boys they could play it sooner IF they’d help me write this article!
“More video game time? Sure Mom!”
We received our copy of the game during the first week of November, and for the next two weekends my sons and I enjoyed exploring the assorted “worlds” and the challenges they brought.
I can definitely tell that Disney Interactive was attempting to cash in on the successes of TT Games’ Lego video game collections. If you or your kids have played games such as Lego Star Wars, Lego Indiana Jones, or (most recently) Lego Harry Potter, the concept is VERY similar. Work your way through assorted levels of already-known stories, collecting coins and special treasures that can be cashed in for additional capabilities. Solve assorted problems and take out bad guys to proceed. My sons are well-versed in the Lego games, and their transition into Disney Universe was very simple for them.
That is not to say they breezed through the game with ease. There are enough differences in the game to make it fun and challenging, and there are several elements to this game that makes it more appropriate for younger players than the Lego franchise.
When you first start the game, you’re presented with a menu screen where players can choose costumes, settings or enter the assorted “worlds”. Each “world” is based on a popular Disney movie (it’s an eccentric assortment; since we’re a Disney Geek family, we had seen all of the movies offered): Monsters, Inc., Aladdin, Pirates of the Caribbean (On Stranger Tides), Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland, WALL-E, and The Lion King. Players will only be able to access the Pirates world first, and as they complete the levels, they need to collect enough golden Mickey-ear coins to unlock the next world. It’s probably possible to unlock several levels at once, if you collect enough coins early on.
The levels within each world are based on scenes from the movies. This is similar to the Lego video games. There are three levels in each world. In each world, there is a “good” guide (a blue talking cube) that will provide players with “boosts” to help you out. The good guide is apparently the one helping you meet the objectives.
But then there’s also a “bad” guide. He is black and red in color, and he has a team of black-and-red-clad minions that are trying to wreak mischief throughout the worlds. The “bad” guide will provide gags and booby traps throughout the level, and you want to avoid those. The booby traps actually remind me quite a bit of the Mario Kart gags that the players can play on each other. The bad guide will also send teams of minions into the level and the players will have to fight them. This is uncharacteristically dark for it being a Disney game, but it isn’t excessively scary.
The players will choose a costume to play with. Costumes are based on assorted Disney characters, not necessarily restricted to the six worlds in the game. My sons unlocked Nemo and Mickey Mouse, for example. The costumed characters look pretty freaky, by the way. Each character’s costume will start out in basic form, and upgrades will become available for each costume. Players will also unlock additional characters’ costumes during game play within the worlds. If you work your way up to the highest costume capabilities and then decide to change to a recently-unlocked costume, you will return to square one with capability.
Enter the world and you’re presented with an objective. This is where Disney Universe is better for younger players than the Lego games. The objectives are clearly stated throughout the level, and arrows will point the players to the items needed to complete the tasks to meet the objectives. Several tasks are very hard to do alone, and the game seems to really encourage teamwork. In fact, there are challenges throughout the levels, where the primary game play fades back and a competition arena will appear. The tasks vary from collecting coins, to shooting each other, to catching characters. We really like the arrows that point towards key items — I remember that being a capability that could only be unlocked with a “red brick” and several hundred thousand studs in the Lego games!
As you complete the objectives, the ends of the levels will have a giant version of a Disney villian to conquer. I’m reminded of Mario Brothers’ type endings, having to conquer giant villains by hitting them a requisite number of times. So far we have seen Scar, Blackbeard and (I think it was) Randall Boggs.
There is some “crude humor” — as the ESRB rating will state — in some of the levels. We really got a kick out of being able to bounce on the overweight residents of the starliner Axiom. This is a level that’s on the spaceship from WALL-E. Again, uncharacteristic for Disney, but not too inappropriate for children.
As of this writing, we have not finished all the levels of the game. We just unlocked the 5th of the six worlds (Alice) and we still have Aladdin to complete last. Just because you’ve completed all the levels doesn’t mean the game is finished. Similar to the Lego games, there are numerous tasks that you can only accomplish with an “upgraded” character. This means you will have to unlock everything once through, proceed numerous times through the levels to upgrade the costumes, and then attempt the tasks in an upgraded status.
In summary, Disney Interactive’s Disney Universe is a fun game in the spirit of Mario Brothers or Lego Star Wars. Despite it being a Disney Interactive game, there are some surprisingly dark moments to the game, so it’s probably not appropriate for preschool-aged children without adult supervision. It’s rated by the ESRB for Everyone 10+, with a content descriptor for “Crude Humor” (such as bouncing on the overweight humans in the WALL-E world) and “Cartoon Violence” (such as fighting Scar in the fiery end of The Lion King world).
Disney Universe for the Wii retails for $49.99. The game is also available for the XBox 360 for $39.99 and PlayStation3 for $49.99. Consider it this holiday season!
A free copy of the Wii version of the game was provided for review purposes.
7 thoughts on “Disney Universe for the Wii: Take a Trip to the Eccentric Side of Disney”
Hmmm….360, huh? Might be worth checking out if it doesn’t have the annoying invisible tether that holds the characters to the same part of the screen (like the early Lego games). Looks like fun!
I meant to write about that feature, but I forgot. I tried to get the kids to diverge on the screen, and it seemed that most often the screen would shrink to accomodate everywhere you’re allowed to go. In other words, your character can get pretty darned small if your objective is in a wide enough area.
That’s both a good and bad thing — neither that invisible tether (Lego Star Wars), nor is there the confusing split screen situations (Lego Harry Potter) that might make a Kindergartener’s head explode!
I love this game but what frustrates me is the Villains upgrade pack. I want the Hades outfit so bad but apparently the upgrade is only for PS3 and Xbox. Do you know if any future plans to make this available for the Wii?
Sadly, I don’t see an upgrade for the Wii. Sorry — I’ll do some asking around and see if I can get some insight for you.
Thanks so much. 😀
Do you know how to switch characters while playing with the Wii version of this game? I know it is a feature with the newer gaming boxes such as the xbox 360, but my kids want to be able to do it on our wii game as we don’t have any other newer consels.
Awwwww. This is sooooo cute! My sibling would love these. We are totally disney lovers! Thanks for sharing!
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