Even past those complaints we found our time to be spent mostly with joy in 'Disney Magical World'. The game is addictive for adults while still being geared toward younger fans. The depth of the roster opened up many nostalgia trips for us and the inclusion of several different game modes.
'Disney Magical World' is a Nintendo 3DS game developed by Bandai Namco Games in conjunction with H.A.N.D. This title seeks to break out Disney into the world of handheld gaming by establishing itself as a player in the 'life simulation' genre that seems to be picking up so much speed of late.
Disney has been one of the most steady companies in the world when it comes to managing their IP and expanding it into the public stratosphere. For all of the good that the company has done in the realm of entertainment, they still have struggled with video games. We decided to get our hands on the title to see if it was just another DIsney product shell or if there was something more substantial lurking beneath the surface of the shiny cover.
We quickly came to realize that 'Disney Magical World' wasn't just a video game for children. It was a game that tried to appeal to the child deep within each and everyone one of us. For the older generation the appeal probably came in the form of the classic Disney animations. For the younger audience all of the new Disney characters were summoned and ready to be interacted with. For the 'life simulation' crowd there was the very similar aesthetic to such hit titles as 'MySims' and 'Animal Crossing'. And that is, perhaps, where we should begin our comparisons.
An elite 'Animal Crossing' type experience.
Comparisons to 'Animal Crossing' will be numerous and similarly shortsighted for 'Disney Magical World'. While both games rely heavily on the simulation factor, they couldn't actually be more different. 'Animal Crossing' is a game that is meant to be enjoyed in 15 minute spurts every single day. Beating the game will take the better part of a year if it is even truly possible to 'beat it'. 'Magical World' puts players in a position that allows them to push ever onward without constraint as they attempt to get everything done in the magical world that Disney created.
Players start the game by either designing their own character or taking on the role fo their own created Mii. Not unlike 'Animal Crossing', this first bit of design will set the tone for the rest of the game. Instead of being put into a randomized village full of animals you are instead transported to the magical Castleton. There you will meet such Disney classic characters as Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, Goofy, Donald Duck and so many more. You will then be sent on a sort of tutorial prologue to help familiarize yourself with the game.
One of the key aspects of 'Disney Magical World' and, perhaps, the best way to measure success is by your collection of stickers. Stickers are earned by creating clothing, decorating the local cafe, completing quests, and fighting ghosts. You also will fish, collect gems, create your own furniture and take photos. All of these activities earn you stickers and the more you collect the more of the world you will unlock and gain access to. At first these invisible 'walls' may seem inhibiting but the truth is that they don't stay locked for long. Once you find a way to earn stickers that is comfortable (We particularly liked fighting ghosts) you will rake them in fast enough to unlock everything that gets in your way.
Very similarly to 'Animal Crossing' we never felt obligated to do any one thing in particular in 'Disney Magical World'. There are an overwhelming amount of activities to take part in that will advance your character in the game and none of them felt like throw away minigames. This kept the game fresh far longer than we would have anticipated it being possible.
One of the biggest surprises that we found was that the combat in the game was entertaining. You are given a wand from Yen Sid and you use it to fight these ghosts. The wand shoots off bolts with a press of the 'A' button but it also has a special charged up attack that you can use to do massive damage. Ghosts spawn randomly all over the map and they provide one of the most fun ways to gather loot and rare materials. that isn't to say that this is a fighting game. Far from it. But the combat in the game doesn't feel lazy or boring.
So far we have painted the game out to be pretty perfect, but there are some flaws in it. One of the biggest issues we had was that the frame rate would become horrible at times. I'm not sure if this was an issue with the 3DS or how the game was optimized, but busy sequences visibly lagged. The graphics themselves are appropriately colorful and they pop off of the screen with typical Disney prestige, but they don't push the hardware in a way that would actually account for the frame drops.
We also had issues with the musical score for the title. Disney has so many great soundtracks in their rich history that we were surprised to see such bland affair rear its head for 'Magical World'. Character voices were alright and sound effects were fine, we just anticipated seeing more of the good stuff in terms of the production design of the music. Not a huge complaint, especially not for a game that is to be played without much focus, but it still warranted being mentioned.
Even past those complaints we found our time to be spent mostly with joy in 'Disney Magical World'. The game is addictive for adults while still being geared toward younger fans. The depth of the roster opened up many nostalgia trips for us and the inclusion of several different game modes (fishing, fighting, designing, quests etc) kept us entertained. The game played easily and we never found ourselves stressing for what to do next. 'Magical World' is a simple game but one that we could find ourselves going back to whenever we wanted something fulfilling.