Harmonix is the king of music games. From the beginnings of Amplitude and Frequency to the height of the music game genre in 2008 when Rock Band 2 was released, Harmonix has pioneered new ways for people to interact with the music they enjoy. Recently Harmonix has leveraged the abilities of the Kinect sensor to create interactive music experiences. Disney Fantasia: Music Evolved is the newest game available.
With Rock Band, Harmonix had you play as part of a band, but with Fantasia much like the classic film the game is based on, you control the music itself. You do so with three primary gestures, sweeps, punches, and held sweeps. In addition, there are opportunities to add your own spin to a song. For example, adding your own guitar solo into Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody”. But, most interesting is a mechanic that has you changing the sound of the music itself. In the instance of “Rhapsody”, you can use the original version or use a classical arrangement, a metal arrangement or any mixture of the three. More often then not, triggering these new mixes breathes new life into a song that you’ve heard more than a thousand times over.
The song selection itself is largely varied with 33 songs spanning from today’s hits (think of Lady Gaga’s “Applause” or Imagine Dragons’ “Radioactive”) back to classical compositions like Tchaikovsky’s Nurcracker or Vivaldi’s Four Seasons. Each of these songs also has a total of three mixes, and each mix has a different degree of difficulty. Further, as with any modern game there is also DLC you can purchase from a selection of newer songs from Maroon 5, Coldplay, and Ellie Goulding to name a few. All in all its a great selection of tracks and mixes, leading to what I would call the most varied game in Harmonix’s library.
Graphically speaking, Fantasia doesn’t have to be pretty or gorgeous, but it is. It does feature more cartoonish visuals with bright and vibrant colors. I noticed no clipping or choppiness in the visuals on my Xbox One. The visuals go above and beyond to bring the various realms featured in the game to life. In addition, for those who are color blind, the visuals shouldn’t prove to be an issue as, unlike Rock Band, the color is your visual cues is unimportant. However, the various mixes are represented by different colors, but the original mix is always at the top of the screen.
This being a music game, audio is of the utmost importance and it feels as though no expense was overlooked in getting the most out of the tunes included. Aside from the music, sound effects are clear and recognizable but don’t get in the way of playing any of the songs.
If I had to find a negative in the game, it’s that the DLC is nowhere near as varied as the songs on the disc itself. Every song there is a recent PPP or rock song, with REM’s “It’s The End of The World” being the oldest available.
But easily, this game earns my recommendation for not only being challenging but also for making the player feel like they have complete control over the music. Disney Fantasia: Music Evolved is available for both Xbox 360 and the Xbox One but is only playable with the Kinect sensor. Both are also available for download.