Beginning tomorrow, Nintendo is launching a new Disney video game -- "Disney Magical World" for its 2D and 3D handheld systems -- in North America. (A version of it was released in Japan last year under a different title, "Disney Magic Castle: My Happy Life.")
Like with many of its other video games, Disney relies on a stable of beloved characters to attract players to this new game. It's no secret that the brand has a built-in audience of fans who love the Disney stories, but the question is whether Disney Magical World also will attract gamers who are not uniquely Disney fans.
In this game, the player can interact with more than 60 Disney characters, visit Disney-themed worlds, customize his or her character with hundreds of Disney-themed clothes and accessories, plant and harvest crops in the 100-Acre Wood and collect rare Disney character cards. It's a dream come true for a Disney fan, right?
My 11-year-old Disney fan began playing this game, and it took a while for his enthusiasm to build. He did like the option to play as a preset character or his own Mii that was stored on his 3DS. And customizing the representation of himself with the Disney accessories was fun. It begins with the first of 16 quests, when the player is asked to "meet with Mickey and friends in Castleton." Once they do join up in the virtual city, the player receives his or her own iconic mouse-ear hat.
Soon afterward, the player is gifted a reopened cafe in Castleton and the opportunity to customize it. To do so, the cafe's owner can earn money from sales or as rewards for doing favors for others. The money then can be spent at McDuck's, which specializes in furniture and accessories for the cafe. To keep things fresh, the merchandise selection changes each day at 5 a.m. and 5 p.m. local time for the player. My son has his eye on the line of Stitch-inspired goods, including chairs, tables, rugs, a counter and luau-themed wallpaper.
This part of the game reminds me a lot of Disney's Club Penguin, where players play games to earn coins that they can spend to decorate their virtual igloos. That game model is common, but the simplicity of it often attracts younger players. (My son "outgrew" Club Penguin more than a year ago.) In fact, Disney Magical World is rated E for everyone, although the 3D mode is only recommended for ages 7 and older.
So, that first hour of game play can be tedious for older kids who have long mastered the simple tasks. Still, if they hang on, older players will be rewarded with the ability to explore the worlds of various characters and complete more challenging quests by collecting stickers. Additionally, the StreetPass function allows gamers to access what other players have stored in their cafes, and AR cards expand play, as well.
One of the features my son liked best was the use of a daily and seasonal time elements. McDuck's is not the only place to use local time in game play. From 8:30 to 9 p.m. each night, a fireworks show takes place over the castle in Disney Magical World, much like the actual Disney Parks presentations. The game recognizes upcoming holidays, and it currently is decked out for Easter.
Disney Magical World is available on store shelves April 11 with a list price of $29.99 and also in Nintendo's eShop. A special 3DS XL with a Disney Magical World logo and a Mickey Mouse icon design on the cover is available exclusively at Walmart for $199.96. (The game is not included with the 3DS XL.)
DISCLAIMER: I was provided with a review copy of Disney Magical World. This did not affect my story, and my opinions are my own.
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