E3 2014: Disney Fantasia: Music Evolved Preview: …I finally understand…

Harmonix and Disney Interactive keep saying it. Disney Fantasia: Music Evolved is a musical motion game where you remix songs using the Kinect. That sounds easy. Then you see the game and get this glazed over look, and you think to yourself ‘just what the heck am I watching?’ I know I can’t be the only one that’s thought that. 

Disney Fantasia: Music Evolved is one of those games that you have to play to understand. I can try to explain to you how the game plays, and I’ll attempt to – poorly – but playing it would be much, much better. But that’s not an option. So here we go…

We had our Disney Fantasia: Music Evolved appointment in a private room at the Disney Interactive booth. It was led by Nick Chester of Harmonix. You are the new Sorcerer’s Apprentice in the game. Yensid has invited you to the musical worlds because you have potential. You meet a former apprentice, Scout, who’s very ambitious and impatient… because that’s what teenagers are… impatient. Something happens, you get into some trouble, and you release some noise into the world. Now it’s up to you and Scout to fix your mistakes and fight the noise in the realms.  

Disney Fantasia

The realm we experienced was the Neighborhood realm; it’s a 70s/early 80s Chicago-inspired theme. The goal is to bring the neighborhood to life by beating songs, thus bringing color and music into the world. You interact with the realm using something called the Muse, which you control by lifting your hand. It doesn’t just move left and right, but in and out of the world in a 3D space. Some of the ways you interact with the environment are knocking birds off of power lines in the background, dragging elephants from a billboard onto a building, and bringing fish out of water and into a billboard for soup. Every time you complete a song, you’ll transform the realm by bringing more music, lights, color and interaction into it. You’ll also be able to explore the realm and find hidden areas like a subway. In the subway are a band of musical meats – bacon, steak, drumstick – each representing a different instrument. You record a loop for each one that will play together in concert when you’re in the realm.

Disney Fantasia Music Evolved

As for the songs in the realm, that’s the main performance gameplay aspect. Songs will be broken up into different versions like blues, orchestra, and rock/jazz. You build parts of the song based on these different genre remixes, so while you’re playing, you’ll actually be changing the course and sound of the song. You do this by following queues that pop up on the screen. These are hand swipes in different directions, punches, and punch/swipe and holds. The Kinect for the Xbox One and Xbox 360 will recognize either hand that you use – just perform the queue with either using whatever works best for you. During the songs, you’ll also unlock composition spells that will let you create loops that come into the song. 

I know it sounds confusing and looks even more confusing. It is… until you play it. It will all click and you’ll actually get the concept. While you can’t fail a song, you can miss objectives. Like other Harmonix music games, you have a point score and a star rating system, as well as a multiplier. 

If you just want to play songs without going through the realms and stories, you can go into Quickplay or Party Play. Just jump right into a song – either by yourself or with another player – and play it. With two players, queues will be one of two colors, and the player of the corresponding color will have to complete that queue. Some queues are both colors, and that means both players have to do it. While players are working together to complete a song, they’re also going against each other in points. While playing, I noticed that the gestures I was making for the queues had me mimicking Mickey Mouse in Fantasia when his hand swipes were causing splashes of water. Genius. 

Disney Fantasia Music Evolved

I know what you’re wondering with the songs. We were wondering the same thing. Are there Disney songs in the game? No, not yet. We were asked if we want Disney songs. Of course we said yes, and we imagined remixed Frozen’s Let It Go, or Aladdin’s A Whole New World. Then we were taunted with, “Disney songs would be nice, wouldn’t they?” That’s it. So as for now, no Disney songs. No remixing the wickedly talented Adelle Dazeem.

More songs will be added via DLC, as well as remixes. There’s also YouTube sharing of the remixes that you make. Don’t worry, it’ll just be the songs and queues on screen. Your silhouette will not be in the video uploaded to YouTube. 

After this hands-on, I can finally say that I understand how to play Disney Fantasia: Music Evolved. And it’s fun. Since I bought my Xbox One, I haven’t used my Kinect once, but this game makes me want to. Harmonix knows what they’re doing, and so will you once you start playing it.

Disney Fantasia: Music Evolved will release on Xbox 360 and Xbox One on October 21. 

P.S. At one point there was a dance party on two chairs to make a vine. It was unexpected, weird and awesome. 

Disney Fantasia

You can follow Senior Editor Lance Liebl on Twitter @Lance_GZ or email him at [email protected] He’ll be tweeting pictures and impressions, as well as asking your questions to the devs from the GameZone twitter @GameZoneOnline.