Tuesday, October 21, 2014

'Disney Fantasia: Music Evolved' is a Magical, Musical Adventure

Disney Fantasia: Music Evolved

You have to admire a video game that has the courage to place "Eine kleine Nachtmusik" and "Night on Bald Mountain" side by side with "Seven Nation Army" and "Royals." Disney Interactive and Harmonix have done exactly that with Disney Fantasia: Music Evolved, but the game is so much more than an eclectic, interactive mix of songs. It's an imaginative and beautifully rendered exploration of music that rewards curiosity and creativity as much as competent game play, 

The Shoal
The Shoal: Disney Fantasia: Music Evolved's underwater realm.
You are the apprentice to the great sorcerer Yen Sid tasked with rescuing a series of magical realms where Music is under attack by Noise. With each musical mission you complete, you unlock additional songs and remixes and reveal more of the lush landscapes and mythical creatures inside each realm. Along the way, you also assist a former apprentice of Yen Sid, the headstrong teen Scout, who had the talent but not the discipline to complete her education with the sorcerer,

Scoring Points in the Capsule
Scoring points in the Capsule.
Harmonix is the company behind the popular video game Rock Band and they also had a hand in the early development of the ubiquitous Guitar Hero. Disney Fantasia: Music Evolved owes much to both of these games, but to its credit never feels old. You "perform" songs controller-free, scoring points and activating remixes through a series of hand and arm gestures that suggest a conductor leading an orchestra or, if you're so inclined, Mickey Mouse controlling the heavens as the Sorcerer's Apprentice. The better your moves sync to the on-screen cues, the better you score and the more songs, instruments and mixes you unlock.

Yen Sid and the Muse
Yen Sid introduces you to the magical Muse.
There are over 30 songs to choose from by a wide range of artists including Bruno Mars, Queen, Fun, Kimbra and the Police. Of course, there are also the classical pieces that make the game such a well-rounded experience. At its heart it celebrates all music and reminds you not only where music came from, but what's possible today with sound fundamentals and a solid dose of creativity. That's heady stuff for a game that could have just been a greatest hits collection. Instead Disney Fantasia: Music Evolved reveals behind the fun a higher goal of enlightening and exciting the music fan in all of us.

You can, of course, bypass the objectives and story line by choosing "Party Mode" in the Options menu, which automatically unlocks all the songs and mixes. I preferred taking the longer path and playing my way through the entire adventure. Aside from being more personally engaged, I thought it was a great way to broaden my granddaughter's musical knowledge. 

You know, like introducing her to Mussorgsky:

I highly recommend the two-player mode.

Disney Fantasia: Music Evolved is available today on Xbox One and Kinect for Xbox 360.

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