Disney Fantasia: Music Evolved review for Xbox One

Platform: Xbox One
Also On: Xbox 360
Publisher: Disney Interactive
Developer: Harmonix
Medium: Disc/Digital
Players: 1-2
Online: No

The music genre has seen its better days to say the least. Besides a handful of dancing games these days, there isn’t much left in the way of getting your groove on?so to speak. While there are stirrings of the Rock Band series making a comeback, it?s apropos that Harmonix, the developers of Rock Band, are testing the next gen waters with a music title called Disney Fantasia: Music Evolved. Fantasia is more of a niche music title where you play the role of an apprentice, much like Mickey in the famous Disney movie, and control the world more or less as a conductor using your body and the Kinect Sensor, rather than an instrument. The result is a fun and surprisingly addictive experience, if for one big reason: the song selection is fantastic. But is Disney Fantasia: Music Evolved a good buy in the long run? That will all depend on what you are seeking beyond what this title has to offer.


The meat of Disney Fantasia is a rather deep story mode that will give you a good 8 hours of game play. Here you play as the new apprentice for Yen Sid the magician, but from the start you haven?t earned your stripes (or stars in this case) and must prove your worthiness by completing a few goals and tasks. These are set up in a way to really allow you to understand what is expected of you in later rounds and is really considered the training exercises of the game. Later you meet up with an ambitious character Scout, as you try to undo an assurgency of noise that is interfering with the realms? harmony. All the while you try to not only bring order to the world, but musical harmony to all whom exist within it.

While the storyline may be light on substance, you can be assured that the game play is not. The game requires using only the Kinect as your controller, and you begin your experience by waving your hands and punching towards the screen to the rhythm of the songs for each level. Things start off simple by requiring players to wave left, right, up or down, but things start to pick up when you begin creating combos by pushing forward and swiping or holding the notes. It all becomes quite crazy when the later levels have you doing multiple techniques quickly and accurately in order to be successful. While stringing together moves will allow you for bigger and better point values added to your total, there is literally no way you can ?fail? a song by missing gestures, unless of course you don?t complete your assigned goal, but at least you will be able finish and enjoy each song in their entirety.

Disney Fantasia: Music Evolved really comes to life when you acquire the ability to remix versions of the songs. While there are 30 total songs in the game, the acquisition of remixes add two additional ?versions? of the songs that are customizable by literally the wave of your hand. For instance, if you are playing Rocket Man by Elton John, the song starts off in the way we all know and love, but you can then choose original, orchestrated, new wave symph or audiolic styles to remix the song. The transition from one style to the next and mixtures of possibly all 3 works quite well without ruining the integrity of the music.

All is not perfect in Neverland as there are some recognition controls when swiping or hitting cues, but never to the point of feeling broken — it just creates frustration when you know you performed a motion and it wasn?t detected. This honestly is problematic when things are going at an insane pace or speed, but again, the fear of failure isn?t present as you just miss out on precious points instead of failing a song. The game is built with all audiences young and old in mind, so don?t expect the difficulty range to be outrageous, even on the songs with a higher degree of difficulty. The other notable flaw of Fantasia is the game?s multiplayer co-op option. Not only is it just a score battle option, but trying to find the room to allow for both players to not only show up on the Kinect, but the room not to hit each other in the face is a challenge in its own right. As nice as the mode is in theory, this game is best played in solo mode in all honesty.

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The game?s real highlight, which could really make or break a game like this, is the song list, which is not only great, but eclectic enough to appease all audiences. Here are just some examples of what you can expect, and this is not even including DLC which is in the works; Applause from Lady Gaga, Blue Monday from New Order, Bohemian Rhapsody from Queen, Fire from Jimmy Hendrix, Get Ur Freak on from Missy Elliot, In your Eyes from Peter Gabriel, Locked Out of Heaven from Bruno Mars, Radioactive from Imagine Dragons, Rocket Man from Elton John, Some Nights from Fun, and even songs from Mozart, Bach, and Tchaikovsky to round off just a taste of what you can expect. Without this set list the game would not be as enjoyable or exude in personality as it does because of them. Harmonix really knows their music and their fan base and have done a terrific job making them happy.

I can?t quite say how the longevity of a novelty game such as Disney Fantasia: Music Evolved will be, and the fact that it is Kinect-based probably keeps it only on Microsoft?s platforms for the time being. It is in the unique way you are ?forced? to only play with the camera that will keep this from certainly having the mainstream appeal of a Rock Band or even Amplitude, but no matter, you have to give it to this company for reinventing a new way to enjoy music and gaming in each generation of console platforms. I for one found Disney Fantasia: Music Evolved to be a very enjoyable experience and one that I will certainly pick up from time to time even after the magic has worn off.

Grade: B+