Review: Disney Fantasia: Music Evolved (Xbox One)
- Release Date (NA): October 21, 2014
- Release Date (EU): October 24, 2014
- Publisher: Disney Interactive Studios
- Developer: Harmonix
- Genres: Rhythm
- ESRB Rating: Everyone
- PEGI Rating: Seven years and older
Single playerLocal MultiplayerOnline MultiplayerCo-operative
So let’s get started on how Fantasia works. Fantasia is all about conducting. Imagine yourself being the headliner of a huge orchestra, commanding the music that lulls out to the audience before you. This is exactly what Fantasia tries to replicate, and it does it surprisingly well! Utilizing the Xbox One’s Kinect, notes are executed with broad sweeps of the arms, with a small dot beginning where you are meant to have your hand positioned, and sweeping it in time with the stroke mapped out on screen. These can be performed in single strokes, or dual strokes, in any directions using both arms to sweep.
You can also push forward for certain notes, or pull backward, to surprisingly well received feedback. I was honestly surprised how well the Kinect managed to follow my motions, though there is some obvious compensation to make up for the rather imprecise actions I was making. At one point my stroke was off by at least half a second, and a little too far to the left, but the note still took and played as if I had hit it perfectly. This isn’t a bad thing of course, as imprecise strokes would become easily frustrating after a while when the Kinect is the thing not sensing you properly! That being said, there are other times that I faced some issues in getting certain motions to register, or even getting the Kinect to recognize that my hand was still in frame. To play this game, you have to have a relatively open space to be able to sit far enough back for the Kinect to keep your limbs in frame. Not to mention make sure nothing else is moving around you or the Kinect will try to pick it up as a motion sense as well.
The game does a very good job of warming you up and getting you used to timing your motions and making appropriate strokes. There’s something about these sweeps and broad motions that really gets you immersed and moving to the music, without having to look silly making some dance moves like in other games. This effect gets even better down the line, as the difficulty ramps up you will perform more intricate swoops like figure 8’s and other shapes. The grace and mobility of the game is what makes the music flow, and the music is what makes the game flow. It’s a really pretty balance of music and game design.
The creative aspect of the game also manages to really shine in the areas that you get to change and control. During gameplay, you are able to change the way the music sounds using a two hand stroke. This opens up the mix portion of the music, where you can select from 3 mixes of the song you are currently playing on, and change the way it sounds. Imagine playing to the normal version of Cee Lo Green’s “Forget You,” and then suddenly being able to change it to a faster paced electronic version of the song, or playing a classic like Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody,” and turning it into a slower, more bluesy tone.
Not to mention, during certain segments of gameplay, there will be opportunities to create mini mixes, segments where you get to play around with instruments to create your own musical mix to add into the middle of the song. This adds a lot to the creativity of the game, but I found myself having some trouble getting proper control out of it. While you can absolutely swing your arms around and still come out with something that sounds satisfactory, it’s hard to make anything to precise without accidentally hitting other chords or keys in your motions. The Kinect just isn’t sensitive enough to really utilize the precise key strokes you want to make.
I would say one of my favorite, (and arguably the most gorgeous aspect of the game) comes from the worlds that you play in as you progress through the story. While the story isn’t very immersive and feels a little like fluff to keep the game moving, the worlds are lush, interactive aspects that really immerse you into what they have to offer. Little critters can be swooped across to perform musical chirps and squeaks, the environment can be rustled and tapped on, it just accentuates the fact that you are truly playing in a world full of music. And speaking of music, let’s move on to that aspect shall we?
Reading the title of the game, I had initially expected to be performing a lot of Disney Music tracks and singles. What I got instead was a versatile soundtrack of some of music’s greatest classics, all bundled into a really entertaining game to play them on.
The variety of tracks is absolutely astounding, with songs from a plethora of genres heading the list, including simple pop billboard hits like Lady GaGa’s “Applause,” to gorgeous classics like Pyotr Tchaikovsky’s “The Nutcracker Suite.”
The soundtrack of the game did not disappoint in the mixes it offered either. There was something relatively pleasing about being able to take songs like “Radioactive” by Imagine Dragons, and being able to manipulate the synth of the game with my own instrument performing during the interactive mini-game. As someone who loves the sound of electronic music, being able to bring even more techno and wubs into the mix is something I live for. Not to mention, it really helps bring in some replay value to the songs. Not just for the sake of getting a higher score, but also making you think, “I wonder how else I can mess with the song, and how it’ll be different if I try it this way.”
The story elements are probably the roughest part of the game. You play the game as Yen Sid’s apprentice, combatting an evil known as, “The Noise.” The Noise is attempting to take all of the color and sound away from the world, and it’s your job to restore the beauty and vibrancy back into the world. That’s… really all there is to it. Granted it’s a music game and a story only really helps to move things along, for a game with a Disney title on it, I’d have expected a lot more magic and flourish to take me along through the levels. There aren’t any other real cameos from famous Disney faces like Donald or Goofy, so do not expect this to be the Kingdom Hearts musical you may or may not have been hoping for.
+ Gorgeous and immersive music
+ Beautiful visuals
- Floaty Controls that sometimes work, sometimes don't
- Lackluster story
The presentation of Fantasia is beautiful. The musically charged game play had me absorbed in my time playing it, and I feel as though the game knows exactly what it is, and proves to be a great music game.
The game play of Fantasia is just fun. The swooping controls are easy to get into, and fun to play with people. While they can be a little shaky, it doesn't stop you from really enjoying what Fantasia has to offer.
Fantasia is a great party game. It was definitely made as the kind of game to gather a few friends and have a good time playing some good music. It's the kind of game you can just come back to every once in awhile for a good music session, or just calm down and enjoy the ride. That being said, it's most certainly not for someone that doesn't have the opportunity to share the experience with someone, which can really hinder the lasting quality of the game.
out of 10
(not an average)
Fantasia was a treat to play. I had a lot of fun going back and playing songs i'd loved as a kid like "Bohemian Rhapsody," or mixing up some of today's singles like Lorde's "Royals." Fantasia is a great party game to play with some friends, and really shows that Harmonix can continue to put out quality music experiences for people to enjoy. Not to mention, it's another game that I feel really utilizes the Kinect in a way that actually makes it an enjoyable peripheral to have.