Review: Disney Universe (PS3)

The world of Disney is a fun, safe environment. Sometimes, an evil force wants to take over that fun-fun world, and sometimes, they succeed.

Disney Universe is a co-operative platforming game built around the IP and characters of Disney. One could say it bears plenty of similarities to titan co-operative platformer LittleBigPlanet, except without the online or level-creation aspects of it.

The story behind the game has the virtual Disney Universe in disarray by a virus calling itself HEX, taking control and turning all the virtual presence bots against the visiting guests. Now, it’s the player’s job to rescue the trapped guests and free the Disney Universe from the naughty (but not necessarily evil) intruder.

“Guests” to the Disney Universe explore six worlds inspired by the Disney and Pixar films while dressed in costumes resembling the characters from various Disney franchises, such as Pirates of the Caribbean, Wall-E, Monsters Inc., Aladdin and Tron.

The platforming worlds offer up a very real, though condensed “I’m in the movie” experience. The stage is set for platforming across many familiar places across the franchises. Objectives are flashed across the screen, and hint arrows help to guide clueless players along the way. There are props to destroy for gold as there are chests to open for upgrade stars. Solving various puzzles like find parts of a broken door or building a cannon and firing it at targets bring players forward until they reach the exit of the area and continue to the next.

Enemy robots under HEX’s control vary from the minion-sized bots to the larger, more aggressive miniboss bots, offering a delightful range of enemies to defeat, all of whom appear while still in the world’s related costumes. There are also power-ups to help players with ice-powers, laser guns and shields to help make things easier. Your demise also doesn’t force you to start over and the lives count is replaced with a gold penalty.

While playing alone is fun, there are reasons why the rooms have things that comes in four. The full Disney Universe experience is brought out when some multiplayer action is in force. Gather up to 4 players to defeat as many enemies and collect as much gold on the level. If your friends are in the way, no problem. There are no friendly punches in the game, so if you want to rob your friends of all their gold, pummel them for all they have. The pressure is on for players to come out tops at the end of the level, on which scores are tabulated and the leader, crowned.

The only problems I faced playing this game was the lack of drop-in/drop-out co-op play a la LittleBigPlanet. Sessions with players who want to join in on the fun must quit and return to the main menu and adding in the new player before starting the level over again. Turning the 2P controller off will also end the session abruptly forcing the game to return to the title screen.

I did feel that the usual lack of online co-op affected the joys of the multiplayer aspect of the game was an opportunity wasted, which is strange for a game that has access to DLC online. Being a Disney game, there is no form of online player interaction of any kind, which is a shame considering not everyone has dual controllers on their console, much less four. Player customisation is left the upgrading and unlocking of the base game’s collection of costumes, some of which requires the re-exploration of certain stages. There is no further customisation to the costumes, so they don’t exactly provide a sense of uniqueness to the player.

Graphics-wise, there is no noticeable lag whilst all the colourful characters prance around the screen. There isn’t much to the soundtrack either, but you’ll be too involved in gameplay to really notice.

One cannot be blamed for judging a Disney game to be mediocre by its cover, but Disney Universe is about two steps up from that. It’s not perfect, but Disney Universe promises to be another round of good clean fun for those seeking a good co-op platformer for the young ones.

Graphics 8.0
Fun to look at. These aren’t highly detailed, but you’ll know you’re in the heart of the Axiom when you see it.
Sound 6.0
Repetitive soundtrack. The voiceovers for VIC and HEX is akin to what Stephen Fry is for LittleBigPlanet, only much less witty and entertaining.
Gameplay 7.0
Goes extra well with 2 or more players. Some button-mashing may be involved.
Lasting Appeal 7.0
There are plenty of stars to find upgrade your costumes as there are costumes to unlock. It should take you a while.
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Disney Universe is a Disney Interactive game by Eurocom for the PlayStation 3, as wells the Xbox 360 and Wii. Single-player and two-player co-op gameplay were tested.