E3 2011: Disney Universe Preview
Dressed as our favorite Disney character, we smash our way through this cooperative action platformer.
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Disney Interactive always has one of the most creative and visually stunning booths at the Electronic Entertainment Expo. This year it was set up in such a way to make you feel like you were in Disneyland, with its winding pathways decorated by bright white railings, street lamps, and carefully trimmed foliage. What caught our attention was the giant bus-stop-size poster of Stitch, but it wasn't just Stitch. In Disney Universe, you don't play as the Disney or Pixar characters themselves, but as these little blue-, pink-, green-, or orange-faced creatures dressed as Stitch or Nemo.
There are six themed worlds that are inspired by animated and live-action films from Disney. Our demo was set in the factory from the world of Monsters Inc. It's a four-player cooperative game where you and your friends need to make your way through the levels, fighting enemies and collecting Mickey Mouse-shaped coins. Using the X button, we were clubbing our way through the areas, trying to be the first to nab all the goodies. There are treasure chests in the level that you can unlock, which hold upgrades to your weapons. You must work together to continue, as well as solve puzzles to open doors. It's hectic and silly, because it's easy to lose track of your character when all four of you are swinging wildly onscreen and trying to jump from one platform to the next.
Because we were in the factory, there were some platforming sections where we had to skip along rotating doors and dodge rows of doors that were on their way to being installed in a closet. The camera will pan back if one person moves further away, but like in the Lego games before, there was split-screen--if you happen to be on a ledge and caught on one end, you may have a hard time moving forward if your friends don't catch up. There is an element of competition though, because you're given a rank at the end of the level to see how you did. You're not going to do very well if you're the one that frequently falls off the edge.
While our hands-on time with it was brief, Disney Universe is adorable and a blast to play, even if you're not really sure what you're doing and who you are playing as. We don't know who these little guys are (perhaps alien children?), but we do know that there will be other costumes (more than 40) that will be revealed for us to dress up and run around in. At this time, we know there will be Stitch, Nemo, Alice and the Mad Hatter, Tron, Pumbaa, and the cast from Monsters Inc., including Mike Wazowski, Sully, Celia, Randall, and even the sushi chef who was working at Harryhausen's.
We look forward to seeing more of the game before it is released later this year.