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Walt Disney's Vision from Beyond... Fantasia: Music Evolved

Control or be controlled!
Control or be controlled!
© Cameron Stewart

Walt Disney was a true visionary. And with the release of Disney Interactive’s new title Disney Fantasia: Music Evolved in October 2014 for the Xbox 360 and Xbox One (with Kinect), Walt can now officially add interactive game developer to his list of accomplishments, albeit posthumously. Indeed, the game was developed based upon Walt’s own notes from the 1930s.

In the game, players interact with music to create their environment. It is not possible to win or lose in this gameplay scenario. Instead, players accumulate magical energy as they progress through the levels of play. It is essentially a motion-controlled music rhythm game. One simply plays until satisfied with the creation. In the game, the player is the apprentice to the Sorcerer, compelled to conjure up sundry animated worlds.

Music is, of course, a key component of Fantasia: Music Evolved, given the film’s reliance on classical music to support the narrative tone. The game, however, opts for more of a remix of both the classics and popular tunes, utilizing iconic songs ranging from Peter Gabriel to Elton John. The title Music Evolved must clearly be related to the fact that Mozart’s Eine Kleine Nachtmusik can be heard on one level and Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody on another! Part of the fun of the game is being able to interpolate outrageous versions of the included score.

But beyond music, art is also a key ingredient, since the film itself was artistically sumptuous. That this is 2014 and Fantasia takes us back 75 years, it is remarkable that a piece of the game art was recently trumpeted to be part of the Into the Pixel gallery.

Into the Pixel, created in 2004, is presented by the Entertainment Software Association (ESA) and the Academy of Interactive Arts & Sciences (AIAS). This year’s gallery (their eleventh, and the first to be showcased at this year’s E3 Expo) includes a poster that was created by artist Jamie McKiernan for Disney Fantasia: Music Evolved. According to McKiernan’s Tumblr, the poster was released as a limited edition for Pax, and handed out at a community event by Harmonix (the game developer), Destructoid, Disney, and Astro. And now, McKiernan’s art will be seen by all at the 2014 E3 Expo.

To circle back to the visionary, Walt Disney, if the title shows the potent magical power the developers think it has, Disney has plans already on the drawing board for adapting the game as part of a theme park attraction. If there’s a ride involved, maybe the title will be updated to Fantasia: Music Revolved.

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