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Gamer Tuesday

December 31, 2013

Pap the Disney Gamer's Highlights: Disney Gaming in 2013

Mickey Mouse ears

Happy New Year's Eve, everyone! With only a few hours left till 2013 is nothing but a distant memory, it is the time where we reflect on all the great and bad things we experienced in the year, while hoping that the new year brings us even better blessings. Disney gaming in 2013 was all over the place, in a good way of course, with many great releases that shaped the company in significant ways. On today's Gamer Tuesday article, we will be taking a look at some of the biggest Disney gaming news of the year 2013, the stories that took us by surprise and the game releases that left an important mark in gamers.

Let's start off with the biggest Disney release of 2013...

Disney Infinity

If there was one Disney game that dominated the mindsets of many Disney fans, it was Disney Infinity. Taking Skylanders' toy based gameplay, and mixing in plenty of Disney synergy, Disney Infinity was announced at the start of 2013, being developed by Avalanche Studios, the same company that developed the Toy Story 3 and Cars 2 series of games. The concept would be that players would collect figures of various Disney characters, then using a special platform, the characters would 'come to life' on the screen, allowing the players to control them through various missions. The initial set would include Sulley from Monsters University, Mr. Incredible from The Incredibles, an Jack Sparrow from Pirates of the Caribbean. Beyond the initial three characters and their respective game universes, players could collect other figures and play sets, such as the Lone Ranger set and the Cars set. The biggest selling point, though, was the Toy Box mode, a mode in which players could create their own levels, share them with other players and let their creativity soar, hence the title Disney INFINITY; those that would invest in the game would see nearly endless opportunity and replay value.

Released in August of 2013, Disney Infinity went on to receive critical acclaim from the gaming industry and the fans, all citing just how imaginative it all was. And with the promise of new figures, toy sets and features in the future, Disney Infinity looks to be a game that will continue to rock the new year.

Junction Point closes, Epic Mickey ends

Epic Mickey

Unfortunately, with good events must come the bad ones. In 2010, Junction Point, alongside Disney Interactive, released Epic Mickey for the Wii. Overseen by famed game developer Warren Spector, Epic Mickey starred Mickey Mouse as he encounters the Wasteland, a world in which the forgotten Disney characters, memories, ideas and more live. Its leader is none other than Oswald the Lucky Rabbit, Walt Disney's original creation, and the first to be forgotten. Together they had to team up in order to restore order back into Wasteland. The game received mixed reviews, but was successful enough to warrant a sequel and a side game. Epic Mickey 2: The Power of Two, released on all major gaming platforms, brought back Mickey and Oswald as a new threat invaded Wasteland. In Epic Mickey: Power of Illusion for the 3DS, Mickey is brought back to the Castle of Illusion in order to bring back the Disney characters captured by the witch Ezrabel.

Both of these games sought out to both correct some of the issues presented in the first game, while also hoping to turn Epic Mickey into a huge Disney franchise that gave more exposure to Oswald the Lucky Rabbit beyond just references and Easter eggs. Despite their best efforts, Epic Mickey 2 was a critical and commercial failure. In January of 2013, Disney Interactive announced that Junction Point had closed its doors, leaving the future of Epic Mickey, and Oswald, uncertain.

DuckTales: Remastered is announced, woo hoo!

One common theme in 2013 was re-imagining classic Disney games in a shiny new light, perhaps one of the biggest being DuckTales: Remastered. Announced in March of 2013 at PAX East, and developed by WayForward, DuckTales: Remastered overhauls Capcom's original DuckTales game while still keeping the classic gameplay that made it one of the most beloved games of the NES era. The graphics received a huge upgrade thanks to the implementation of hand drawn sprites that emulated the look and feel of the original Disney series. In addition, the iconic music received a tremendous upgrade while respecting the bouncy appeal of the original soundtrack. The game's story also received an upgrade, this time featuring better plot development and cutscenes that brought back the original voice talent.

Released in August, DuckTales: Remastered received warm reviews, even if many seemed to agree that the game had too many cutscenes, and it felt like its tribute to the Disney cartoon was too effective.

LucasArts closes

LucasArts

Continuing the trend of studio closings in 2013, one of the biggest and most shocking studio closings was that of LucasArts, the video game development brand of Lucasfilm. In 2012, Disney bought the rights to the Star Wars franchise, and the minute that was announced, fans began to wonder what would be in store for the future. That came with very bleak news that Disney shut down LucasArts in favor of internal development of future Star Wars games, one of the most drastic decisions Disney had regarding Star Wars after the buyout. Later on, it was announced that Electronic Arts would be in charge of the Star Wars franchise in video game form, and would later assign their own development teams to create the various games. The news came as a huge blow in the gaming industry as beyond Star Wars, LucasArts had a reputation for creating some of the best original games ever. For many, this began many questions regarding just how ethical some of the practices in this were, and what other assets would be liquidated in the Disney/Star Wars acquisition. It left many people both troubled and hopeful for the future of Star Wars games as Disney continues to develop the next three films in the series.

Fantasia: Music Evolved is revealed... and then hated

In the gaming world, sometimes you have to be clear as to what you want to offer gamers, otherwise you run the risk of alienating them long before the product is even released. Such was the case with Fantasia: Music Evolved. Revealed at E3 2013, Fantasia: Music Evolved is a rhythm game that gives players the control of the music, using Disney's animated classic Fantasia as the starting point. On paper, it is an ambitious game that seeks to further strengthen Fantasia's belief of combining music and visual to create pieces of art. But when the first teaser trailer was revealed, and was confirmed that it would have modern day songs, fans began to heavily criticize the game and its ambiguous goals. Fantasia: Music Evolved was revealed to be a 2014 title for the Xbox One and Xbox 360, and that it would be using the Kinect camera. But very little about the game has been said since.

Kingdom Hearts III is FINALLY announced!

After the celebration of the tenth anniversary of the first game in the series, seven years since its sequel hit the PlayStation 2, and countless of spin-off games released on handhelds, Square Enix finally made the announcement that the third game in the Kingdom Hearts series is going to be a reality. Seemingly a dream come true for those of us who have been loyally following the adventures of Sora and friends, Kingdom Hearts III promises to bring the Xenahort saga to a close and tie up all the loose ends left unsolved by the previous side-games. Since its announcement, Kingdom Hearts III has only received two proof of concept teasers, with Square Enix stating that the game is still very early in development, and might not see release till late 2015 at the earliest. Despite how long it will take to get to store shelves, Kingdom Hearts III is brimming with potential in many aspects, from gameplay to Disney elements and, of course, story.

Not all of the news that came out of 2013 were good, as you could clearly see. But 2013 will leave us with amazing games, and hope for the future. Despite the closing of LucasArts, there is still a lot to look forward to as the first series of Star Wars films are released under the Disney name, and if you guys have read my dream lists, both Kingdom Hearts III and Disney Infinity have the chance of being the greatest Disney games of this generation. And with that, Gamer Tuesday wishes you a happy and safe new year, and may the new year bring you lots of blessings, health, prosperity, and of course, many great Disney games.

 

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