E3 2011: Disney Universe Preview
When Little Big Planet and the World of Disney Collide
It was only a matter of time before someone would realize the floppy-head 'costumes,' and the gameplay made popular by Little Big Planet, would be a perfect formula for everyone's favourite Disney characters. Disney has created their own take on that gaming style, complete with little 'gremlin-type' creatures who 'suit up' in various Disney character costumes, which, from what I saw, will be a very fun game indeed.
With 40 different characters to choose from, including Tron, Sulley from Monster's Inc., Pumbaa from the Lion King, and even Tim Burton's version of the Mad Hatter, you can bet that any Disney fan will be pleased to run around in their favourite floppy-headed character costume. Each character has a tool of their own, with Alice (Alice in Wonderland) carrying a giant flower, Stitch (Lilo & Stitch) with a guitar, and Tron with his disc. As you play, you are able to "power up" your tool when you find a blue star; not only does it show an upgraded version of your tool (Tron's disc had two rings instead of one after the power up), the tool itself becomes more powerful against your enemies.
Each world is based on Disney movies, so you could play in Lilo & Stitch's world, or the Lion King, or even, as I got to try, in the world of Monster's Inc. The graphics, colours, and the enemies, perfectly represent the world they're a part of, complete with secret areas and unique abilities in each world (in Monster's Inc., doors are flying every which way, and you can sometimes access certain doors, though the doors will deactivate/reactivate at random). I found that as I played that world, I had a strong urge to re-watch the movie; it really is that good.
More costumes, as well as other worlds, will be available via downloadable content if you want your Universe to grow.
As is customary in just about any game, bonuses can be found throughout the worlds. Red and blue boxes appear, containing good and bad temporary things. Good bonuses you can find range from different tools you can use for a short period of time, or a plethora of extra coins. Bad bonuses vary, and could turn you into a chicken, a 'bomb-head', or you could even acquire boxing gloves. When playing with friends, you can use the bad things against each other in many ways, such as pecking them as a chicken to turn them into a chicken as well, or playing 'hot potato' with the bomb-head, or simply knocking them out with the boxing gloves, all the while stealing coins from them. The bonuses vary, leaving you with no idea what will happen until it's already happened. Bad bonuses do wear off after a short time.
You can play the game with 1-4 players, with each additional player being able to opt-in or -out at any given point in the game. Considering that many kids tend to get distracted easily, this is a great option in that you don't have to worry about having to restart the game when others want to play, or your efforts being 'ruined' because your friend has to stop playing. The game even adjusts accordingly, so if you're at a big boss with 4 players, and 3 suddenly have to leave, the difficulty in the game will adjust back to 1-player mode and you can continue with no qualms. If you finish the level together, several stats will show at the end including who has the most coins, and who fought best.
While the game is geared toward 8-12 year olds, I can safely say that any fan at any age of either Disney, or Little Big Planet, will want to try this game out. Full of hidden places, mini-games, problem-solving fun, random good/bad bonuses, big floppy-headed cute characters (who can resist a floppy-headed Stitch costume?), and the ability to have friends 'drop-in' on the game-play as you go, Disney Universe has effectively made a very fun game for all to play. You'll be able to delve in the vibrant worlds of Disney on the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, Nintendo Wii, PC, and Mac, starting Fall 2011.