At a glance...

Previewer Platform Publisher Developer Players Release Date
Andy Daniel Xbox 360 Disney Interactive Studios Eurocom 1-4 28th October 2011

Disney Universe preview

Disney Universe captures the joy of your inner child

Disney Interactive showed off their upcoming title, Disney Universe, at this year's Gamescom in Cologne, Germany. Based on many Disney movies, this cooperative competitive cutesy platformer will be a sure hit with the pre-teenagers who are likely to be familiar with the well established franchises. We spoke to Senior Producer Iain Ritches who gave us a look at the game off the show floor.

Disney Universe

Disney Universe

The entire game is designed around cooperative and competitive play between four local players (read: no online multiplayer at all) set over six Disney worlds, each relating to a Disney movie or franchise. The four we know so far are savannah-style Lion King, industrial looking Monsters Inc, futuristic era Wall-E and wacky Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland. The remaining two worlds are yet to be announced. Each world houses 9 levels bringing the total to an impressive 54.

The game plays as an almost isometric view platformer and the players take the role of Disney World volunteers, dressed in one of the 40 unlockable cute costumes based on the many, many Disney characters. Each costume, when worn, allows the player to use four weapons or moves unique to that costume, and generally take the form of a generic melee attack. Using that move, and a double jump, the players can easily traverse the treacherous worlds either together as a team or by totally griefing each other. This is similar to the gameplay seen in New Super Mario Bros. whereby players can grab each other and throw them off the edges. How the team works together is up to each player, but they will often need to work together to traverse each level which consist of many different elements and small objectives. I got the chance to play a Lion King level and the first small objective required some to-and-fro to make a plant grow and provide access to the next part of the level. Another element seen later required some trust in the other players as a platform appeared and fell repetitively, and required all players to cross at the same time. Not all elements in the game need everyone to participate, but getting involved will net more points for your character, which will prove useful at the end of the level when the players are stacked against each other on a podium.

Disney Universe

Disney Universe

Other ways of earning precious point tokens include destroying enemy minions, who have clever AI. They know when the players are coming so will craftily place traps or blocks in their way. This gives a unique play through each time, improving replayability. Being hit by minions, traps, or other players can cause your character to 'die' - although you can reappear as many times as you like at a cost to your final score. Points aren't everything; additional collectables have been confirmed, but not any details. Finally included are the power-up cubes, which bring positive and negative effects to the players. A negative one I saw turned my character into a chicken, rendering the character useless, until the effect wore off or I passed it onto another player by touching them.

Disney Universe

Disney Universe

Combine everything together with four players and Disney Universe shows its unique style of platforming, demonstrating its easy-to-play nature while being rich, deep, and very enjoyable for all ages. A game comparable to LittleBigPlanet in its simplicity-to-fun ratio, yet unique enough to deliver a completely fresh experience, definitely something for people young or old to look forward to.

Disney Universe is due for release on Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, Nintendo Wii and PC on 28th October.

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