When it comes to bringing classic Disney characters like Mickey and Minnie Mouse, Donald Duck and Goofy to video game form, Disney isn't exactly one to rock the boat. Outside of a few rare exceptions, if you find one or more of these characters in a game you can expect to have the gentlest, most G-rated experience in the universe. Somehow, with Disney Magical World on the 3DS, Disney has managed to outdo itself with an experience so gentle it might put you to sleep.
Players begin the game by being whisked off to Castleland, which is essentially Disneyland minus the rides. There your custom Mii character gets greeted with Disney's top A-list characters, most of whom are at least partially voice-acted, lending a chipper air of authenticity to everything. These characters walk you through the basics of Castleland— how to go fishing, gathering items, talking to people, wearing stylish outfits. There are many things to do in Castleland, but most of your progress is made through the much-detested act of fetching, whether it's on orders from a Disney character or a Mii walking around town. "Get this for me!" they bellow. "Get that!" they'll demand. Cinder-elly, Cinder-elly!
There are a few more distinctly game-like elements outside of just walking around from point A to point B. There's a fishing mini-game so uncomplicated it borders on automatic. And those of you fish lovers out there can rest easy— you don't hurt the fish. When caught, fish give you a gift and get tossed back into the water. You also have a cafe to run. This cafe can be customized quite thoroughly, from its menu to its decor to its name. Acquiring new furniture and food for your restaurant however, requires you to- you guessed it!- wander around fetching things. The most exciting thing you'll do in Disney Magical World are complete the ghost-battling quests— simple, slow bits of combat that have you shooting magic projectiles at dim-witted geists. It's easy, but it's much more energetic than everything else here. Although in our time battling ghosts we experienced no less than two fatal game crashes which forced us to restart our 3DS and lose all progress made since our last save.
Like the Animal Crossing games Disney Magical World's developers based most of its gameplay on, social interactions are a big factor here. Talking to characters yields important information about quests (sometimes; most of the time they just have generically cheerful things to say), and wearing the right outfit or performing the right greeting will unlock collectibles and grant you additional Likes. Even when we're not on social networks it seems we're still being judged by the all-mighty upvote. You can customize your outfit quite extensively, but you'll only receive Likes if you're wearing an "Ace,” i.e. matching, outfit, which makes it feel as if the game wants to discourage customization beyond its pre-ordained customization.
There may be a lot to do in Disney Magical World, but there's not much to do. You walk, you'll talk, you'll gather and you'll yawn. Disney Magical World seeks to distract you with the offer of constant activities and customization, but these things are fluffy and fleeting, without a hint of satisfaction to them. Anyone hoping for a tour of Disney's less explored worlds like Tron, or something as outrageous as Star Wars or the Marvel Universe, look elsewhere, as this is classic Disney, through and through. For a very, very young gamer looking to unwind with something Disney-themed, Disney Magical World might be of interest, but for anyone else you should let your conscience be your guide and guide you away from this saccharine-coated, dreadfully dull game.
This review was completed using a digital copy of Disney Magical World for Nintendo 3DS.