E3 2013 Preview: Fantasia
Did you know that Walt Disney invented surround sound? Sure, he's not exactly credited for it, but before Fantasia was released in theaters back in 1940, Walt visited each of the 12 theaters it was showing in (be 1,200 today), and made sure each screen had about 100 speakers around the room to immerse the audience in the experience. Now, 73 years later, Disney Interactive hopes to continue on with that immersive experience with an updated, interactive vision of Walt's beloved classic.
Anyone who knows me knows I'm a huge Disney nut. So I was pretty stoked when I heard a new Fantasia game was being made. We went into a demo room to see the presentation. The demo was running on an Xbox One and was one of the few games using the One's new Kinect. They had some demo problems at first because the Kinect was picking up everyone in the room, but once the demo girl moved a bit forward it locked on her. Pretty cool tech. The cursor used in the game is called The Muse.
You play not as Mickey, but as the new sorcerer's apprentice. Your assignment in the game is to uncover magical moments and bring them to the sorcerer in his workshop.
Fantasia is unlike any music game you've played before. In the "aquarium" stage, a tear in the level shows you the song you can play. Choose it and enter the movement part of Fantasia. The song here was Queen's 'Bohemian Rhapsody'. They have everything from jazz to classic rock to current pop hits.
Here's where things got interesting... not only do you move your arms in tune with the small arrow things that pop up on screen, but you also get to choose various instruments throughout the song, in a sense re-mixing how it will sound. One section can be drum heavy, another piano heavy. The demonstrator said he's watched her demo the song over 150 times over the past two weeks and each time it had sounded different. Colors explode and flash across screen when you time your movements with the music.
There are also times where you get to actually control the sound of the song itself by manipulating the song's tone. It was pretty crazy watching her move her arms around as she distorted and changed the beat. The Kinect was spot on the entire time too.
Once she completed the song, the energy you earned from it came back into the level and added new items, creatures and colors to it. They wanted the experience to feel magical as well as musical.
She even went into an area with clams and played a jazz drum beat. Once she was done, those clams would show in the level and play at various times the beat she came up with. Fantasia is still in the early stages of development so they've got a long way to go before it releases in 2014 (like figuring out the two-player aspect), but what I saw in the demo was very impressive.