As apprentice to sorcerer Yen Sid, Mickey Mouse experimented with magic in the 1940 animated classic. In Fantasia: Music Evolved,Yen Sid tutors the player’s fledgling skills using Fantasia‘s magical realms.
“You are the new sorcerer’s apprentice,” says John Drake of the Boston game development studio Harmonix, which pioneered the music and dance game genres. Yen Sid, which is “Disney” spelled backwards (a nod to studio head Walt), thinks that “you have musical potential,” he says, “and the power to become a great musical sorcerer.”
The game also seeks to inject some magic into the muted music game category, which approached $2 billion in sales in 2008, when games such as Guitar Hero and Rock Band were most popular. Fantasia: Music Evolved “is different,” says Harmonix project lead Daniel Sussman. “We’re trying to build something accessible and creative.”
Players use their body movements to — like magic — transform a colorful, vivid interactive world inspired by the original film. Like theDance Central video games, Fantasia: Music Evolved makes use of the Kinect motion sensor; its camera captures the player’s body and puts their silhouette on screen. Fantasia: Music Evolved is expected to be released next year for Xbox 360 and Xbox One.
By reaching out toward the screen, players direct their magical “muse” across the landscape, transforming the objects they linger on. An oceanic level has a circle of spinning seahorses that make music as you hover over them and a playable calliope made of coral. An industrial newspaper plant level requires you to command repair droids and resurrect the production process.
You unlock 25-plus songs as you progress through more than one dozen realms. As songs play, you use your arms, as if you are casting magical spells, to match rhythmic cues on screen, just as players matched beats on guitar and drum controllers in Guitar Hero and Rock Band.
Instead of tapping buttons on the plastic guitar neck or hitting drums in those games, players swipe one or two hands up or down or left to right, based on the on-screen pattern. Other times, you push toward the screen — as if you are wielding the Force — and trace curvy designs. All the while, you are amassing magical energy points, although the designers expect to make the game essentially a no-fail adventure.
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