The world where dreams come true lands on the 3DS with enough sparkle and pizzazz to feed all ages with joy. And though it’s a life simulation game by genre, its irresistible charm and humour will keep you playing Disney Magical World for hours on end.
Developed by h.a.n.d and published by Bandai Namco, Mickey and friends welcome players into a magical kingdom full of quests, mischievous ghosts who are more than likely to give Nightmare Before Christmas’ characters a run for their money, and alluring outfits to please every eye. With four main areas to explore through magical portals including the 100 Acre Wood, Cinderella, Alice and Aladdin’s world, there’s plenty of variation when it comes to fetch quests, mini-games and dungeons. But it’s not all enemy tussles and item hunting, you’ll also have real work to do as the owner of a café.
Rather than owning your own house and paying off pseudo-mortgages Animal Crossing style, Disney Magical World allows players to pocket their earnings from the café’s food produce and purchase new decorations from Chip and Dale’s workshop or themed staff outfits from Daisy’s Boutique. The near two-hour prologue will introduce players to the basics and, while it’s a little cumbersome, children will love getting to grips with gathering materials to make new recipes, as well as the introduction of firm-favourite characters. But while the café is your main source of in-game currency, collecting stickers is just as vital for progression.
Like any other achievement ranking, collecting stickers will unlock new areas within the game’s main hub, Castleton, along with opening up quests, new outfits and decorations. Completing the prologue will award players with 16 stickers, but collecting 77 will conclude the main storyline. These stickers can then be collected throughout the game under seven different sections – including fishing and farming – which vary in difficulty. Levelling up your café by fulfilling the manager’s requests can also lead to new stickers; unlocking recipes allows players to pick up rarer meals with themes such as Peter Pan, Aladdin, Western, amongst others. Plus, you can even host special-themed parties and invite guests from the Disney universe, taking photos to fill up your album.
While cruising through Disney Magical World’s main hub and quest areas, loading screens can become irksome. Sometimes it can be a mere five seconds, other times you’ll fear the game’s coding has lost its way in the Queen of Hearts’ hedge maze. Also of minor consequence are occasional frame rate drops while running or dashing through Castleton, rather than the top-down view of the quest areas, causing lag or blips during gameplay. Yet it’s mainly the game’s penchant for crash glitches in Alice’s World which delivers an odd, unsettling feeling for players. Whether it’s haunted cruelly by the threats of cutting off one’s head or just bad luck, encountering enemy Boingo’s and warp panels may trigger crashes, forcing players to restart from their last auto-save point.
Generally the game’s best moments lie within the quest areas. Enemies and bosses are varied enough to avoid monotony, while layouts are simple and require classic switches and levers to open up sealed off areas. Drop rates for rare items are primarily based on luck, so players will often have to replay quests to obtain certain materials – no qualms for seasoned dungeon crawlers. The automated aiming system, however, may even have the troublesome Stitch raising an eyebrow. Your wand will target the closest enemy or object in range, which can be perilously awkward when facing bosses with rotating teacups and illuminated lamps, hitting everything but the main target. Here, camera angles also become the enemy with strange zooms that distort your field of vision.
Without a shadow of a doubt, Disney Magical World’s ballroom dancing sequences might just end your friendship with Cinderella all together. Aside from throwing a curveball into the game, the musical mini-game can have you bibbidi-bobbidi-booing in utter frustration. Touchscreen tapping will rarely follow the rhythm of the beat giving you a string of misses and, coupled with the distracting background on the top screen, players may end up seeing stars rather than dancing with the stars.
Despite the game’s blips and hang-ups, Disney Magical World blossoms with its amusing episodes, excellent outfit and decoration choice, and character interaction. As in the words of Eeyore, it might not be much of a tale, but you do get sort of attached to it.