GC 2011: Hands-on with Disney Universe


Disney Universe is the kind of kid’s game that you’ll buy for your younger sibling or child, and end up playing it long after they’ve lost interest and gone to find some crayons to chew on, or whatever kids do these days. At its heart, it’s a side-scrolling beat-‘em-up with a few simple platforming and puzzle elements, which will make this game easily accessible for anyone who’s ever stepped foot into an arcade, as well as the targeted younger audience that spends its days watching brain-rotting cartoons.

The game’s story is almost non-existent: you play as a person who was testing some sort of gaming system for Disney, when an evil guy called Hex came along and trapped you and your friends in the world. Now you have to escape by bashing lots of monsters. The game will launch with six worlds available to you, with each based on a popular Disney franchise such as The Lion King, Wall-E and Monsters Inc., and players will be able to wear suits that strongly resemble Sackboy’s outfits from LittleBigPlanet, based on a licence as well. Each suit has its own set of weapons and abilities, and can be purchased once you’ve gathered enough gold from the environments and fallen enemies.

It sounds pretty simple, and it is, but there are a few key concepts that should make this game much more entertaining than your average kid’s title. The first is the competitive cooperative gameplay: up to four players can join in together on the same console (no online multiplayer is supported, because online people are all assholes and trolls who will tarnish your child’s tender mind the developers want to encourage the kind of fun-poking gameplay associated with couch co-op), and are allowed to freely attack each other and deliver full damage. As you can imagine, having four players on the screen at one time can get chaotic, and it certainly does. Thankfully, players can’t die, and only take a few seconds to respawn near their team-mates. However, since you’re competing to have the most gold at the end of each of the game’s 50+ levels, having the other players lose some of their gold (for you to collect) when they die does incentivise the idea of team-killing.

Throughout the levels there will be a number of randomised buffs and debuffs that will do anything from improving your damage to giving you a laser rifle to turning your head into a bomb, and during certain parts of each level you’ll be tasked to complete a challenge within a set amount of time. Performing the best in those challenges will earn you a lot of gold.

Sure, you could write off Disney Universe as a silly kid’s game, but it has a lot going for it. I’m not suggesting that it will become anything noticeable on the core gaming radar, but for those who enjoy competitive “party” (you may or may not read this as “drinking”) games or are looking for a good family multiplayer game, this is definitely one to keep an eye on.