Disney Fantasia: Music Evolved (Xbox 360) Reviews

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TA Score for this game: 3,104
Posted on 15 May 19 at 08:38, Edited on 16 May 19 at 05:29
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Fantasia: Music Evolved is a Rhythm game for the Xbox 360 and Xbox One based on the highly acclaimed Disney movie, Fantasia, and is designed to be used exclusively with a Kinect sensor. For this review, I have played the Xbox 360 version using the original Kinect sensor equipped with nyko's Zoom accessory in a room with florescent lighting where I only had access to 8ft. of distance from the sensor.

In the game's main story, you start off as Master Yen Sid's newest apprentice-in-training. Once you complete your training, you meet his previous student, Scout (no, not that Scout, but boy, wouldn't that've been a bizzare Kingdom Hearts sequel), to help with her lessons. But not long after meeting, you encounter a mysterious force known as Noise, which disrupts the harmony and balance of the worlds they encounter. With Master Yen Sid strangely absent, you set off to these worlds alone to collect Magic Fragments and unlock Composition Spells (which I'll talk about later) while Scout stays behind to complete her lessons and her song so that you both may ultimately restore balance to the worlds. It may seem interesting at first, but unfortunately the story doesn't really do anything past the bare minimum. I mean there are journal pages to collect that tells a little more about Scout's personality and backstory, but you're not really missing anything. All you really need to know about her is that she's a teenager who wants to make music, but doesn't want to work for it. You can pretty much figure out what's going to happen throughout her story arc from there.
...oh, and there's this disembodied voice named Percy that acts as your tour guide or something, but he's really just there for tutorial and commentary purposes.

Anyway, each world that you travel to have their own unique themes like a snowfield, medieval village, urban city, outer space, etc.. These worlds can easily be summed up as musical playgrounds. By waving your hand over certain objects, you can trigger animations and sounds that make a seamless ensemble of music. There's a good amount of stuff to interact with, but it's not really something that I take interest in, but I suppose it could be a fun distraction for others. There are, however, certain sections in these worlds that somewhat act as puzzles in a way. Once you solve them, you get to create a 1-2 measure recording with them and have them occasionally play in the world. You also get Magic Fragments for doing this, so look for them when you can.

But now we get into the real meat of the game. The primary gameplay consists of playing through songs by sweeping your arms in multiple directions, sometimes holding that position for a few seconds, and even drawing paths. Each successful action you perform earns you points, keeps the music alive, and puts on a nice visual spectacle. These sections truly make you feel like you're playing the roll of the conductor of an orchestra... or at least that's how I played. I've noticed that a lot of people only focus on moving their arms in the directions that the game wants them to rather than play like a conductor. I mean this is a Fantasia game after all; Why not have the game encourage such a style, especially for the classical songs?
Well, either way works; function over form, I guess...

The game doesn't have a life bar, so it's impossible to fail any of the songs. There are, however, goals for each song that you must meet to progress through the main campaign. There are 3 goals for each song and the first 2 always involve getting a high score. You earn a Magic Fragment for completing the first 2 goals while the 3rd one is entirely optional. The first 2 goals seemed very easy as they usually ask for scores in around the mid hundred-thousands while I was constantly getting scores in the millions. But then again, I'm a DDR veteran, so your experience might differ from mine. The 3rd goals are the more interesting ones, however. Some involve doing something simple like hitting a certain number of cues while a Hold cue is active while others are more fun like hitting cues while the song's lyrics are referencing the title or looking for and hitting cues that are in specific shapes like a radioactive sign or an SOS Morse code. However, you don't get anything at all for completing these optional challenges outside of a few achievements and I guess bragging rights so don't feel like you're missing anything if you choose not to do them because, well... you're not.

Now here's where the really interesting stuff comes in. Each song has 2 remixes to accompany them and there are Switch Cues that allow you to change individual instruments to the ones in those remixes, making it possible to have, say, the vocals from one remix and the percussion from the other remix playing along with the remaining instruments from the original song and vice versa. I think this is such a cool feature because it allows for the player to make certain combinations of instruments more catered to their liking. Not only that, but it does serve a purpose outside of musical cosmetics. Each remix has their own separate cue charts so almost every playthrough feels different. I do hope that Harmonix (or anyone, really) revisits this idea because some of these remixes are very good like a rather beautiful orchestral version of Bohemian Rhapsody by Inon Zur, the games main composer. There are also some remixes from a few Harmonix regulars like Inter:sekt and Symbion Project (Sorry, but no Freezepop this time).

Although, like many others, I would've preferred if most, if not all, of the songs were of the classical genre. Like I said, this is a Fantasia game. But naw, screw that. We need Nikie Minaj and Lady Gaga in our magic. Jeez, at least Penn and Teller were actual magicians. I mean if you really had to have modern music in this game to please shareholders or something, then why not at least make orchestral remixes of all these songs and not just a few of them? That'd actually sound really cool, not to mention that it would've still kept with the theme of conducting an orchestra that the game was trying to go for. How awesome would it have been to have an orchestral version of Gorillaz' Feel Good Inc.? That would've been so badass!

Upon progressing through the main story, you will unlock Composition Spells to use in-game that appear in the form of basic 3D shapes like a cube or pyramid. These are basically mini-tools that you use to create your own sounds however you please in either 1 or 2 measures that repeats. There are 5 different spells with their own unique functions like one where you chop sections of a sample clip from the song you're playing and one that you stretch like an accordion to alter the amount and tone of notes that play in the measure. To trigger them, when their shape appears, you have to swipe all of their sides successfully when the cues pass over them. The song's progression will then come to a brief halt and you'll enter one of these spells to start making your sounds. Once you're done, you drop your arms to lock in those sounds and then they'll start playing at predetermined points in the song.

Unfortunately, I am not of fan of the execution of this feature. As someone who has experience composing actual music, it's very difficult to create a sound that's accurate to my tastes due to the Kinect sensor's unreliability. I can't just pick and choose which notes I want to activate without the cursor sliding over and playing anything else and recording something that I never meant to. Even if I could get it to work right, most of these sounds just don't work very well with the song playing anyway. In times like these, I would've liked to have the option to just not use spells. But unless you're willing to purposefully sacrifice a few points to prevent the spell from activating, there's no way to do so. Now you'd probably think "Well then just don't input anything in the spell". Unfortunately, that's rarely an option, either. You pretty much have to put something in these spells, otherwise you can't continue the song. So what I normally end up doing is quickly playing a note or two and locking that in just to get on with the song. Sometimes, I just wanna play the damn game and get a high score; I don't wanna have to create a brand new sound every single time I activate one of these spells. I kinda wish there was a feature where I could save a sound that I made and then load it in a future session just so I wouldn't have to go through it again. When something that is completely optional with very little payoff is being forced upon the player like this, it feels more like a chore than an experience.

Most of the problems that I have, however, moreso have to to with the Kinect sensor I was using. Sometimes, if you attempt to hit a cue with one hand, the game might think that you're using the other. This can get really annoying when hitting Hold cues and you have to simultaneously hit cues with your other hand. Even if you know that you hit a cue, you still have to hope that the Kinect sensor can still read you accurately so that the game registers it properly. It gets really hard for it to do so when you're hitting multiple cues in very quick succession, so there are cases where it feels like you're just relying on luck. This is not entirely the game's fault as much as it's the sensor's and you can beat the game just fine with minimal struggle, but it's especially annoying if you're attempting some of the optional goals. The game advertises that you can play while sitting down and you can move through the worlds by leaning left and right, but I was only able to get that to work twice. I've heard that Kinect 2.0 has superior sensor technology, but who knows? You might have an easier time than I did.

All in all, it's a good game with great ideas and I do hope that they're revisited at some point in time. If you can get past the questionable list of songs and you don't mind the low difficulty, you may have fun with this game too.
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