Review: Disney Fantasia – Music Evolved

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.

Xbox 360 download

Xbox One download


Animating the Inanimates

So, the other day I was cleaning our bedroom up and I came upon a number of things that I’ve had for sometime. Things like medals from high school, and a few statues I had painted like this guy: 

As you can tell, he’s seen better days. But the strange thing is I can’t bring myself to throw him away. In the end the dragon is a broken ceramic statue that’s a left over memory of a day outing to Mahoney State Park in Nebraska. See, at the time I had an ingrown toenail. And, because of it I wasn’t permitted to go swimming. I spent the time apart from others I went with and I painted him. I distinctly remember wanting to put those gold streaks on his rock base, imagining he was guarding a great treasure. 

But you know what’s really interesting? That I know the dragon is an inanimate object. He doesn’t feel, doesn’t speak, but would sit somewhere in my bedroom keeping a constant vigil. So why do I keep personifying it? From that thought, I’ve begun wondering why we personify other things. Why are ships referred to as “her”? Why does Han softly speak to the Millenium Falcon, saying “Baby, hold it together.”? 

The best guess I can muster is that we personify these objects in order to tell ourselves that the thing is trying harder or that it can all be fixed. Think about it, if a web page refuses to load, I know some will ask the browser why it can’t just work and do as it should. It’s no different then a boss telling an employee to work harder. So, my take on it is that we personify inanimate objects and talk to them in a manner we WISH we could talk to others. 

But what of my dragon? If I personify him because of something I want to say to people, what’s the point of me keeping him in a broken condition? Because I would rather tell people that it can all be fixed. That the pieces need to be put together, and it can all be new again. When that happens, maybe then we can stop yelling at our cars that won’t stop and look at how to actually treat the problem. 

It’s time I bought some strong glue. 

Unscripted Moments

When do you know you have a great relationship? I know some people would say it’s when you can just look at each other and have an entire conversation just by looking at them. For some, it’s when you say the same thing at the same time. I know quite a few that would say it’s when they hear those magical words… “Can I play?” No matter what your definition of it is, it’s the greatest feeling in the world knowing that you have someone you can always count and rely on. And I’m thrilled to say that I have someone like that.

But let’s be clear, this isn’t some big, new revelation or anything, but after so many posts I thought it was about time I did a post about the person that means the most to me. Gary is a guy that I had seen at work for some time before we actually started talking/seeing each other. One day at work I happened to see him after not having seen him for what felt like a long time. And I don’t know what compelled me to, but I quickly talked to him enough to be able to track him down on Facebook. Because of course, the first thing you do with people is creep.

Finding nothing that rubbed me the wrong way, we started hanging out and our relationship quickly blossomed. I won’t say it’s perfect by no means, but it has been absolutely amazing regardless. But now, we have a complete life together that has us under one roof, and living in something that could be called harmony by some, and controlled chaos by others. And I wouldn’t trade it for anything. But you know the moment I was talking about? Well, I had one with him a while back.

Now I will warn you, it helps to know the song “Love is an Open Door” from Frozen for this. Go ahead and watch it here on YouTube. Got it? Good. Now, at that point where the lyric is, “our mental synchronization…” is when it happened. We were in the house, I think getting ready for something we were doing that day. But, we had the soundtrack to Frozenplaying, and it came up and both of us started to do the movement that both the characters do then. And we were positioned in such a way that we actually bonked our heads together! I remember laughing uncontrollably and it became an inside joke for the longest time.

But, I look back on it now and I truly can’t help but smile. It’s a moment in time I’m always going to have close to me and it shows me a great slice out of our relationship. Thankfully, it’s a playful slice when both of us are on the same page. When we both were on the same page and it was a totally unplanned moment. And those are really the best ones in my book. You could spend month’s setting up the moment where you propose to someone, and you’ll talk about it because of what you do. But that special, unscripted moment will keep being talked about because it’s you and your significant other in the rawest of moments. And when that happens that is when you know, without a doubt, that you have a special connection together.

Snow and Crazy People

So, unless you’ve been living under a moss-covered rock in the Shire, you might know that the Midwest is currently in the middle of a snowstorm that’s been going on since the morning of the 31st. Now, of course as I skim through my local news stations, I see plenty of organizations closing doors because of the storm. Multiple reports and meteorologists pleading with citizens to stay indoors, that it’s not a good idea to head outside of your home. Yet I have to. Given the industry and position I have, even if it closed for a day I would still have to be there.

See, I work in a casino. This casino also has a hotel, a hotel full of some local people but also some people from out of state. As much as I may want to stay home and drink cocoa all day, for those folks the only way they can have some basic necessities is if the outlets at the casino remain open. I completely understand not closing for their sake. But throughout the day, I know I will still see people walking in from outside, covered head to toe in snow and layers of clothing (insert witty joke about layers and ogres here), in order to spend some of the money they earned. It’s these individuals that I don’t understand.

Why would you brave a snowstorm in order to have entertainment? Shouldn’t you instead stay home? Enjoy the wonders of the internet, have a home cooked comfort food? (personally, I’d have grilled cheese and tomato soup.) All my questions being raised, but I am aware that some people are without power. I understand that in that case you may have no option but to head somewhere else. Doesn’t it make more sense though to find a friend’s place and stay there? Or am I just overreaching here?

Now, I know when it comes to entertainment I’m much more of a homebody, I’d rather stay inside with a drink and watch a movie/play a game, then go out to a bar. It’s trouble waiting to happen to me. Do I simply not understand the desire to visit a casino in a snowstorm because it’s not what I’d prefer to do? I recognize that it may be so… but shouldn’t common sense kick in? I just needed to vent somewhere.