Disney Universe is a quirky multiplayer game that places you in the role of a guest to a new attraction, featuring fully-recreated worlds based on Disney movies (including Pirates of the Caribbean, The Lion King and Aladdin). While on the introductory tour, VIC the tour guide is infected by an evil virus named Hex. Hex quickly takes control of all of the worlds and makes them evil, and even traps other guests in each of the worlds. It’s up to you and your friends to save the trapped guests and escape.
Made up of 18 levels over six worlds, Disney Universe is a run-of-the-mill third-person adventure puzzle game whose main draw is the variety of costumes you can wear and the levels you’ll be battling your way through. Each level is a combination of puzzles, fighting and an optional challenge made available after you’ve finished a specific objective. These challenges can range from defeating a certain number of enemies in a certain amount of time to kicking basketballs. The challenges themselves are usually quite simple, but are made much more difficult if you add additional players.
As you play, you’ll collect various artifacts in each level that will unlock music or concept art that is viewable from the main menu. You’ll also collect coins, which allow you to purchase or unlock the remaining levels included in the game or to purchase the extra costumes that you’ve found by freeing trapped guests. Each level also contains a star, that upgrades your current costume from one star up to the maximum of four. Each upgrade improves the stats of your character and makes them more powerful.
As a single-player gaming experience, Disney Universe gets stale awfully quick. The repetitive nature of the levels and the lack of variety of enemies make it lose its luster after just a few levels. Jump into multiplayer, and it’s somewhere in between New Super Mario Bros. Wii and a party game. The short levels feel almost like minigames, while the challenges actually are, and the cooperative element can be quite frustrating.
At the end of the day, Disney Universe is a decent game for adults, but it’s not something you’ll play for long. Kids, on the other hand, will probably spend tons of time playing through each level in order to unlock all of the games’ 45 costumes. Disney has promised additional content (costumes and levels) via DLC, with The Nightmare Before Christmas available now and a Muppets and Jungle Book pack scheduled for early 2012. This is very much a niche game that you’ll play with your kids or nephews from time to time, but you won’t be counting away the hours until you get your next fix.
Pros: Lots of extra costumes, DLC on the way
Cons: Very repetitive, co-op often more frustrating than fun