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Fantasia: Music Evolved

Disney Unveils Fantasia: Music Evolved For 360, Xbox One

Update: We earlier stated that Fantasia: Music Evolved will be out this holiday season. It will releases some time in 2014.

Disney and Harmonix have partnered for a new Xbox 360 and Xbox One music game that doesn’t focus on plastic instruments or dancing. This Kinect-enabled Fantasia game puts players in the role of the sorcerer’s apprentice, allowing them to explore musical worlds and magically remix songs with rhythmic hand gestures. Disney is on the bill, but don’t expect to play along to classic Aladdin or Lion King songs. Just like the 1940 Fantasia film’s unique presentation of classical songs, this game plays with popular songs from musicians like Queen and Bruno Mars in new ways.

I got an opportunity to try out the game during a pre-E3 event in Santa Monica, California. The goal is to prove yourself to Yen Sid, the sorcerer himself, by honing your musical abilities. His approval is won by bringing enchanting worlds to life with music and performing your own spin on popular songs. A variety of colorful, panoramic worlds are available to explore and tinker with. Harmonix showed off a The Little Mermaid-esque coral reef and a magical newspaper printing factory. Players can step side-to-side as they explore these panoramas on a horizontal axis. Along the coral reef, players can experiment with drum-beating clams, coax out a seahorse to play with a swipe of their hand, and find other hidden musical spots. These panoramas are quiet when you first visit them, but after exploring they begin to hum with life and music.

After the coral reef, I jumped into the newspaper press. The malfunctioning machinery needs to be reactivated. I guide my cursor through the 3D world, drawing my hand closer to the screen to reach deeper. Holding the cursor over objects like a machine switch activates them. Players must solve simple environmental puzzles to get the press online, like shrinking fix-it robots with a ray-gun so they can enter and repair a machine. Perform the correct motions with your hands and you unlock songs to play.

I began by tinkering with Queen’s epic “Bohemian Rhapsody.” Bright nodes fly across a starry sky as the song begins. These notes pass through arrows that cue me to rhythmically swipe my hands in certain directions. Other notes pass through large circles, requiring me to press my hand out like I’m miming “stop”. A selection of three different musical styles pops up: orchestral, hard rock, and acoustic. Distorted guitars don’t usually enter Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody” until later, but I decide to introduce them early. As the song plays, I opt to swap out my strings section with cellos, creating a rockin’ version of the song with a classy touch. The focus on these song-shaping experiences appears on enjoying yourself rather than being graded, so players shouldn’t worry about failure.

 The other songs revealed include AVICII’s “Levels,” Bruno Mars’ “Locked Out of Heaven,” Fun’s “Some Nights,” and Kimbra’s “Settle Down.”  I noticed other instrument options like metal drum kits electronic keyboards that give songs a chiptune sound. Harmonix has more songs and instruments on the way, so the possibilities for tinkering with music should be vast.

Like any music game I’ve ever played, the beginning phases with Fantasia are awkward. After some practice, I started nailing notes and eventually my arms flowed in time like a conductor’s. The sensation is cool, and the possibility of remixing my favorite songs in real time is exciting. Fantasia is less of a game than Harmonix’s previous console titles, but the concept has potential. It arrives on Xbox 360 and Xbox One next year.

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  • Next generation gaming is truly here. Truly.

    I guess if people like that sort of thing, more power to them. I honestly couldn't see myself tinkering with this sort of thing even if it was free.

  • *jaw drops* ..................................................................................................................................................................................................... *grabs jaw*

    What on God's green earth were you thinking?!

  • Bruno Mars? In a Fantasia game? Methinks someone over at Harmonix doesn't get the point of Fantasia.
  • So...this isn't one of the 15 exclusives they mentioned, right? *crossing fingers*
  • So basically it's trying to be Child of Eden 2? :p
  • this actually does look pretty awesome

  • 1 down, 14 more to go.

  • Not my type of game but looks pretty cool with all the firework-like visuals. Hopefully at least half of the 15 exclusive Xbox One games are focused more on people who enjoy playing with regular controllers.
  • Strange, what happened to the original article? Anyway, I think the concept is cool, Kinect in my opinion works best for these non traditional, abstract style games. However, the music they have announced so far is not very good, with the exception of Queen, so that kind of limits any potential this might have had.

  • 1 exclusive and 14 to go. Catering to the Casual Crowd and leaving the hard core gamer in the dust. Microsoft, handing Sony the next gen ONE bad decision at a time.
  • Another great title for epileptics!

  • I'm going to vomit

  • FINALLY!!!! It's about time they made a "Fantasia" rhythm game!!

    ----reads article------


    Seriously, though - if Harmonix and Disney want to stay true to the legacy and innovation of "Fantasia", then they need classical music with little stories that change in real time as you play - or, better yet, given the fact that it's exclusive to Microsoft platforms at this point, include various orchestral tracks from OSTs for franchises like "Halo" and "Gears of War" in addition to the stuff that's timeless.
  • I'll admit, it looks good.  I refuse to waste money on a Kinect, though.

  • This sounds like a legitimate reason to get a Kinect. Where was this while Rare was slapping Kinect Sports together? I might pick this up for 360, but I hope it makes its way to Wii U. But with a name like Fantasia: Music Evolved (cough cough Halo) I doubt it.

  • I love the Fantasia album!

    And what's wrong with a little Bohemian Rhapsody?
  • When I opened the article I was ready to start trolling but it sounds like it has great promise and that kinect 2.0 is pretty good.