Harmonix is best known for its Rock Band and Dance Central video game series, which have helped to reshape the way gamers interact with their consoles. Disney’s foray into music began in the ’40s with the release of “Fantasia,” featuring fun animation set to classical music.
Combine the two and “Fantasia: Music Evolved” becomes a new type of tune-based video game, one that’s hard to get into but easy to get lost in.
Beginning with a lengthy series of tutorials, “Fantasia: Music Evolved” feels cumbersome at first. It’s not a dance game, so the usual hand waving, arm flailing, and feet stomping activities that come with so many Kinect-enabled titles should be thrown out. But it’s not a tap-to-play music game either, so there are no colored buttons to press in time with a beat.
Instead, this game encourages virtual conducting of the music while simultaneously re-orchestrating classic pieces. From Disney favorites to rock and roll hits to classical arrangements, “Fantasia: Music Evolved” certainly has a fair share of songs to choose from. But to “play” along is more of an abstract concept, punching and swirling to keep the beat alive, even stopping sometimes to compose a few notes of your own, remixing these classic tracks. There’s a certain fluidity to it all that takes a while to get the hang of but feels good when it happens.
It’s all set amidst a series of dreamy visuals, set forth by Disney’s master sorcerer himself, Yen Sid. None of it entirely makes sense and yet some how it all does when getting lost in the world of the music.
“Fantasia: Music Evolved” isn’t quite a party game like other dance titles – more of an individual escape that makes players pay attention to each component of a song while still feeling like interacting has an effect on how they sound.
The game might not be fun in the traditional sense, but its unique gameplay style enables players to get sucked in without realizing it, perhaps even coming out with a greater appreciation for the included music.
Those looking to simply boogie or break it down will be terribly disappointed by “Fantasia: Music Evolved.” But those looking for a new kind of musical gaming experience may stay interested long enough to find a different level of entertainment in this unusually vibrant experience.
“Fantasia: Music Evolved” is available on Amazon and in stores now.