At first glance, Disney Magical World for Nintendo 3DS might seem like an Animal Crossing game with Disney characters. But it's really more than that. Sure, it has Animal Crossing elements like doing tasks for residents, buying clothes, and decorating your room. But it also lets you run your own cafe, farm your own vegetables, and even go on action quests where you shoot ghosts and fight bosses.
You start out in the Disneyland-like town of Castleton, complete with nightly fireworks. Disney characters and other residents can be found around town. A tutorial mode (the prologue) teaches you the basics of the game: Where to shop, how to wear matching outfits to collect "nice" points, how to make clothes, how to go fishing, and how to run your cafe. Once you've completed the prologue, you have more freedom to do what you want. There always seems to be something new to unlock and new areas to explore.
The CafeRunning the cafe is a major part of the game. By using ingredients you've acquired around town, from residents, or from farming, you can make various dishes to sell. The more you sell, the more money you earn. Over time, you'll acquire new recipes to make even more dishes. But it doesn't stop at the food; you can decorate your cafe how you want and even dress your employees. If you want to put a dress on your manager or make your waitress dress up like Winnie the Pooh, you can! After a while, you'll unlock an upstairs room that serves as your bedroom. You can decorate it however you wish.
Clothes & FurnitureAlthough the local store, McDuck's, sells clothes and furniture (among other things), you'll need to get many of your items custom made. Chip and Dale make furniture at their workshop and Daisy makes clothing and accessories at her boutique. Much like making food at the cafe, furniture and clothing require ingredients. These may be items you picked up around town (cotton leaves, tree branches), received from fulfilling villagers' requests, or found in the quest stages. And just like food recipes, you'll obtain new recipes for clothing and furniture as you progress through the game.
Action QuestsDisney Magical World's biggest departure from Animal Crossing style games is the quest mode. It consists of action stages, where you use your magic wand to shoot at ghosts and other enemies. Many stages have branching paths, although some paths are blocked and must be unlocked by hitting a switch or defeating all of the enemies in the area. Most quests also have a boss fight at the end. The levels are often loaded with special items, including rare items you can't get elsewhere.
Disney CharactersNintendo says over 60 Disney characters are included in the game. Characters such as Mickey, Minnie, Goofy, Pluto, and Donald Duck can regularly be found around Castleton. Others work in stores: This includes Scrooge, Huey, Duey, Louie, Chip, Dale, and Minnie. But there are also other worlds entirely devoted to certain franchises. There are areas based on Cinderella's village (complete with a dancing mini-game), Aladdin's world Agrabah, Alice's Wonderland, and Winnie the Pooh's 100 Acre Wood. Each of these worlds features numerous characters from those respective movies/stories.
Much to DoStickers are the main progress meter in Disney Magical World. You earn them for accomplishments or for meeting certain milestones. Collecting stickers is how you unlock new areas, recipes, and other abilities. But stickers aren't the only thing you'll be collecting. By using greeting animations to Disney characters, you can earn trading cards. There are 300 cards in total, and you are encouraged to collect them all. The more cards you have, the more greetings you can unlock.
But the game actually keeps track of much more than that. A collection screen shows your number of outfits, magic wands, furniture pieces, food items you've made, fish you've caught, and crops you've farmed. Disney Magical World has a lot of content, and tons of things to collect. On the down side, some items are quite rare and it may require playing a certain quest over and over in hopes of getting lucky. This can be a bit frustrating when you need an item for a request, especially one that has a time limit.
ConnectivityThe game supports local and internet play to visit other players' cafes and rooms. Avatars of players who visit your cafe will also show up in your Castleton town, and you can get new cards from them by performing a greeting. While these features are nice, Disney Magical World is still primarily a single-player game. StreetPass is also supported, and there is downloadable content (DLC) as well. Some DLC items are free (typically single items like a shirt or accessory), while the paid DLC (in the $1-4 range) includes complete furniture sets for your cafe or even extra game episodes. The game also supports AR cards that will be distributed at special events or from the Disney Magical World official site.
Final VerdictI'm not a huge Disney fan, but this game won me over anyway. Even though the game started out a bit slow, I soon found myself enjoying the game much more than I expected. There's so much to do that it's easy to get distracted and have a good time without even accomplishing what you originally set out to do. It has an addictive quality that keeps me coming back and I want to keep playing until I've collected everything. On a scale of one to ten, Disney Magical World is a strong...
Disclosure: Nintendo has provided me with an advance copy of Disney Magical World. This fact has not affected my review score in any way.