It should come as no surprise that the first game to really make good use of the Xbox One’s Kinect is a Harmonix game, and it should also come as no surprise that that the first game to really make good use of the Xbox One’s Kinect is a Disney game. That’s right, folks the masters of rhythmic gameplay at Harmonix and the imagineers and Disney Interactive Studios have collaborated using a license that’s almost 75 years old in Fantasia: Music Evolved.
What Is It?
On the surface, Fantasia: Music Evolved in a music-based rhythm game, but it’s really so much more than that, and at the same time, it’s incredibly simple.
Picture yourself as the conductor of a talented symphony orchestra, where you aren’t only directing sections of notes, but you’re also feeling the sound and rhythm as you go. There’s no right way to do what it is you’re doing, and there’s no wrong way, leaving plenty of room for improvisation without doing too much.
Like the 1940 classic, the story of Fantasia is one that tells itself with subtle yet extravagant beats. You play as the sorcerer’s apprentice whose job is to rid the world of noise by playing through songs, both classical and modern. The game treats you to a fairly quick introduction and puts you into the action right away, doing a good job of orienting the player with the game’s unique gameplay.
Why Should I Care?
The gameplay is about as responsive as you’d expect from the developers of Rock Band and Dance Central, but it doesn’t punish you the way those games do when your rhythm isn’t precise. Instead, the music just gets softer and quieter, which works out as a good enough reason to play better as you go on, making the music louder and giving it more feeling.
Fantasia: Music Evolved is primarily played using your arms. Players should expect to be swiping, slapping, punching, and miming their way through more than 30 songs, not including DLC with different versions and variations of each song.
Speaking of those different variations of each song, that’s where the game really opens up musically. Aside from hearing the music in its standard form, you can play different sections using different kinds of instruments to change things up. They give each song a different sound, but they maintain the same rhythm so no song is truly “ruined” here. One of my absolute favorite selections for example, Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody”, features the original mix, a classical arrangement, and metal mix for more variety — all of which made me go crazy as I was playing. The violin solo in the classical arrangement at the second part of the song was especially awesome.
The game’s single player mode also has its share of fun things to do. While every place is being terrorized by noise, you can interact with different parts of the environment to create your own melodies in each area to further get rid of the noise. While it’s nothing special, it is a required part of the single player, which added a sense of exploration aside from just the music you’re playing.
What Makes It Worth My Time And Money?
Variety is what really makes the game’s soundtrack a winner.
You can say what you want about the quality of today’s music, but the pacing of the game’s single player really did a good job making each song a breath of fresh air. One moment you’re jamming to “Message in a Bottle” by The Police right before rocking out to Lady GaGa’s “Applause,” and before you know it, you’re feeling classy listening to Mozart’s “Eine kleine Nachtmusik.” These artists and musicians, along with modern hits from Bruno Mars, Lorde, and even Avicii, provide something for everyone.
Not surprisingly, the game looks absolutely fantastic. The splashing art and lighting create the effect of fireworks in your living room, and it really makes itself out to be a classy ode to Disney’s Fantasia and attractions, such as Disneyland’s World of Color. The character design is very Dance Central-ish, but it’s kid-at-nature style further makes the Disney feel even more authentic.
If there’s any complaint I have with the game aside from the weak story, it’s the fact that there aren’t any Disney songs to enjoy. As a Disney fan, I really wish they did more than just the addition of Yen Sid and some mentions of Mickey. Yes, Demi Lovato’s version of “Let It Go” of Frozen fame is in here, but it could’ve been more awesome with actual Disney soundtracks.
Either way, Fantasia: Music Evolved is a fantastic experience that Xbox owners can enjoy with the entire family, and it’s a reason to finally unpack the Kinect. I just wish Disney took more advantage of its name.