In 1937, flush with the profits from the hugely successful film, "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs", Walt Disney decided to take a short film intended to revitalize Mickey Mouse's popularity, and turn it into a video and music extravaganza. "Fantasia," as it was originally envisioned, would feature a number of classical pieces with interpretive animated sequences, and would be updated yearly with new segments, much like an orchestra keeps popular pieces from year-to-year while working new pieces into its playlist.
The feature film proved to be ungainly. When it was released in 1940, the film was only shown in a very limited number of theaters because of the elaborate sound and video equipment necessary to show the film as it was intended. Couple this with the start of World War II and the Allied demand for many resources upon which the film industry was dependent, "Fantasia" lost significant money for Disney. It wasn't until much later, after multiple theatrical re-releases, an official soundtrack on cassette and CD, and home video release on VHS that it would turn a profit.
In March of 2010, Disney management called for a meeting with representatives from Harmonix, the company responsible for the popular music game, "Rock Band" and the then-unannounced motion game, "Dance Central." Harmonix agreed to the meeting, unsure of Disney's intentions, concerned that they were going to be asked to make a "Hannah Montana" game or something that didn't have personal interest for the majority of their staff. When Disney suggested working together on an updated "Fantasia" project, the team at Harmonix was dumbstruck, and agreed.
With the original movie, "Fantasia," the goal was to use visuals to help explain to the masses what was going on in the orchestral piece. Walt Disney stated that he had trouble appreciating much of the music until he learned what it was about, through either visuals or story. "Rock Band" was a game that allowed gamers to play along with prerecorded musical tracks, requiring them to keep the rhythm, and in that sense duplicate that part of the music, but in the end it was still mostly imitation.
Disney and Harmonix decided that the new game, which would become "Fantasia: Music Evolved", would go beyond understanding, appreciating, and imitating, into a brand new area: creation. This new project would give players the opportunity to take existing music, and re-create it by changing the instrumentation and volume, and by creating looping segments that would be worked into the original music.
The music would be revealed through multiple stages, such as an underwater shoal, an antique printing factory, and a snowy forest. Following a motion controlled cursor - the player's "muse" - will unlock creatures and machines, and new ways to play music. Gathering magic as this new music is created will open up areas that can be entered, releasing a new song to re-create.
The game will ship with over 30 musical tracks, featuring original music from "Fantasia", other classical pieces, up to music that is cutting edge today, like tracks from "Fun" and "Avicii." Cues will be given on screen that will be activated by player motions. It is up to the player to decide how to "play" the game. The visual cues can be met through conductor-like motions, or dance moves, or action like a wizard casting spells. Many of the 30 tracks will include multiple mixes, in addition to the countless mixes that can be made and performed by the gamer. Harmonix published over 4,000 music tracks for "Rock Band" and dance tracks for "Dance Central." It is almost certain that there will be additional songs, and possibly new areas to explore, released later as downloadable content.
"Fantasia: Music Evolved" will release in 2014 on the Xbox One console, and shortly thereafter on the Xbox 360. However, the game is not officially exclusive to Xbox platforms, and availability on other platforms is not outside the realm of possibility.