Review: Disney Magical World 2 (3DS)
The world of Disney takes up a special place in my soul. I’ve never been one to shy away from the fact that I love Disney movies and characters because they’ve played such an important part in my life and in my childhood. From the characters to the stories and morals, every Disney franchise has had a purpose. I even have a special appreciation for some of the games I’ve played, like Castle of Illusion, Kingdom Hearts and Duck Tales. When I received the review for Disney Magical World 2, I didn’t know what to think. I didn’t even know what it was. Would it hold the famous Disney magic or just fizzle as a quick cash-in?
Welcome to Castleton
Having no prior knowledge of the game, nor having played the first one, I had no expectations going. In fact, I wasn’t even sure what kind of game it was, I just assumed it would be filled with mini-games, like a Mario Party title. In the end, I wasn’t wrong, but there’s so much to this game that I actually can’t believe it. In a nutshell, the game is almost a simplified mashup of The Sims, Fantasy Life and Harvest Moon. Your adventure begins with your arrival in Castleton, a magical town that’s made to make your dreams comes true. Now, that’s not quite what happens in the game, but there is a fair amount of dreaming involved, but I’ll get to that later.
There isn’t much of a continuous narrative, but the beginning tutorial does serve somewhat of a story. It introduces you to the inhabitants of Castleton, such as Mickey Mouse, Goofy, Donald Duck, Minnie Mouse, Daisy Duck, Uncle Scrooge and his three naughty nephews, Huey, Duey and Louis. There are lots of other Disney character inhabitants, and many regular visitors, like Anna & Elsa, Wreck-it Ralph, Cinderella, Snow White, Winnie the Pooh, Lilo & Stitch, Rapunzel and more. With all these Disney characters visiting Castleton, the location becomes I little hub of all things Disney and can make the game a little fun to explore.
Other than meeting and greeting, you’re given a café to run, which is your main source of income. You can create a ton of different dishes, decorate it how you see fit and host parties for “celebrity” Disney Characters depending on the theme. Throwing a party is pretty simple, just match the theme to the Disney characters you want to invite over. Once the party starts, you’ll be able to perform a little dance routine with them. It’s a bit silly and campy, but really entertaining to watch Wreck-it Ralph dance in sync with backup dancers. You can even take a variety of snaps while the dance is taking place.
A big feature of the game is to take snapshots wherever and whenever. By holding the shoulder buttons you can take a screenshot that saves to your 3DS. What you want to do with these images is up to you, but I mostly find them pointless. On a graphics scale, it’s actually really good, the characters are well-rendered and the locations are colourful and reflect the source material really well. I do think that the dungeons are a little bland, the ghost designs uninspired and the regular drop in frame rate rather disappointing.
You don’t just take pictures, though, you’ll do quite a bit of exploring and questing to assist your Disney friends and fellow Castleton inhabitants. When you’re not running around your hometown hub, you can visit a variety of other destinations, like Hawaii, Wonderland, The mines of the Seven Dwarves, the 100 Acre Woods, Arendel and Atlantica. While there, you can visit quest dungeons, where you’ll fight the main enemy of the game: ghosts. Fighting is pretty simple but is bogged down by poor aiming and no camera control. In the early stages of the game, the combat is forgivable but later on it becomes a nightmare to deal with.
Collecting and creating
Creation and decoration are another major part of the game. By using the supplies that you pick up in dungeons, or collect as rewards, you can create different themed furniture for your home and café. You can also create different themed outfits and ace outfits. These ace outfits rewards you with Nice Points from people, which you can trade for new décor and fashion recipes. Nice Points are even collected when dreaming. During a dream, you can meet various characters in a weird dream-state and collect points for doing simple tasks, like posing for the camera. You can also collect a ton of other things, like accessories, wands (your main weapon in the game) and battle suits. You can fish for additional items, mine for gems & jewels and farm food for your café. Seriously, this game is loaded with stuff to do. It was designed to take you a long time to complete. In fact, I’ve played well over 20 hours and I still have a lot to collect. It’s an ongoing game that will take lots of time to complete.
When the magic fades
Unfortunately, there are technical issues with the game. Like I said before, the frame rate drops regularly, especially when farming. You don’t control the camera and sometimes you can’t always spot an enemy or item. Combat overall was very poorly executed, you’re outnumbered most of the time and the aiming sometimes doesn’t work the way you want it to. Aside from the technical issues, the tutorial is almost unbearably long. I honestly think that it may even deter people from playing the game. It’s very long and a little limiting in what you can do during that teaching period. I also have an issue with the dialogue as it seems almost too juvenile, even for a Disney game. Quest objectives are also a little ridiculous, but that might be my taste coming into effect here.
Overall, however, I found the game to be entertaining. It’s filled with a lot of great content and some rather tricky mini-games. The early parts of the game will be great fun for kids and the later parts will keep the older audience entertained. Unlike most games, you can play it at your own speed, progress as far as you want and just stick to the status quo without feeling like you’re pressured to move on. It’s good for both long sessions and quick bursts. Do I think it’s the best simulation-ish game out there? No, but I do like the Disney aspect of it. After all, I can’t grow veggies one minute and have a dance party with Sleeping Beauty the next in another game.