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company Harmonix is trying to capture the spirit of Walt Disney's 1940
" by inserting the gamer into the story of The Sorcerer's
Photo by Shelly Valladolid
Harmonix, whose past hits include Rock Band
and Guitar Hero
spent over two-and-a-half years developing this game. Which will launch
exclusively on the XBOX 360
and the XBOX One
next year. Fantasia: Music Evolved
is not completely finished, so we saw an advanced, but not complete, build of
the game. There were some problems with the XBOX One hardware, but the game
itself ran beautifully.
What the developers, who attended in Fantasia T-shirts, intended
was not to create Fantasia: The Game, but rather to capture Walt's vision of
adventure, color, sound and motion. To create something with the spirit of the
original, but not a carbon copy of it.
Photo by Shelly Valladolid
So far, they've done a capital job.
They've had some help though, from Walt Disney himself, thanks to Becky Cline
and her team at the Walt Disney Archives. Flush with Snow White
hired transcriptionists to literally follow him around every day and write down
ideas for Fantasia as he brainstormed. Those notes are in the Archives, which
were generously opened to the Harmonix developers as they researched concepts
for the game.
(L to R) George Balanchine,
T. Hee and Walt Disney during the production of "Fantasia." Copyright
Disney Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved
Walt tried to forge a connection between the viewer and the
music via the nascent art form of animation. Harmonix is trying to forge that
connection via the nascent art form of motion-based gaming.
They decided to focus on The Sorcerer's Apprentice for the
root of the story, as it is arguably the most iconic imagery from the film.
Your home world is the Sorcerer's Workshop, and you are the Sorcerer's
Apprentice. You are not puppeteering a Mickey Mouse avatar as in Epic Mickey
Yen Sid addresses you directly; this is a completely first-person game. The
only time you "see yourself" is in shadow, like Stokowski, when you are working
with songs. The iconic podium is even there.
Will Mickey show up? They are not telling.
Annette Gonzales, from Harmonix previewed part of the game
called The Shoal. The Shoal is the more creative, freeform-style Discovery Mode
of play, while the other choice given to gamers, The Press (as in Gutenberg)
uses problem-solving and puzzle-driven, logical-based play.
You also get to change up the songs if you feel like it. For
example, with Bohemian Rhapsody, you can choose from Original, Orchestral or
Power Ballad. For Locked Out of Heaven, the choices are Original, String
Harmonix community manager
Eric Pope. Photo by Shelly Valladolid
This is a great game for all ages, explains Harmonix
developer Eric Pope. "Fun and joy are universal. Tapping into the joy of music,
it doesn't feel like a kiddie game, and it doesn't feel like a first-person
shooter. Manipulating songs creates energy that transforms the world. It's not
simulation-driven like our past games, expression and creativity are in your
"Hey, Eric, will Chernabog be in the game?" See answer for
the same question about Mickey Mouse above. There will be multiple homages to
Fantasia and Fantasia 2000 is also on the table for the game; it's part of
He also added that the game will be multiplayer, for two
players, and that his wish list for the game includes the ability to record
performances. If it's on the release next year, then you'll know he wished on
the right star.
A few of the 25 or so songs that will be shipped with the
Shelly will be back with even more
stories from this year's E3 just as soon as she finds a place to park her new
Disney Infinity-inspired ride. Photo by Noe Valladolid
They'll be revealing more of the artists and songs as the
release nears next year.
This song list is just awful. I try not to be a purist about these things, but it's not worthy of the name.
Play the game first, then decide. Walt actually did want to change out some of the numbers in Fantasia and have it eternally evolving. Some of the songs he considered were, indeed, popular songs (for the time). Could you imagine "All the Cats Join In" in Fantasia? It almost happened!