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DoubleTake: Fantasia: Music Evolved

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Posted on March 25, 2014 AT 01:49pm

The Happiest Flail on Earth

Both of us saw a lot of big games at GDC last week, but for me, the biggest news of the show was the moment I found out that you, Ray Carsillo, actually have a soul. I’ve listened to you mock Fantasia: Music Evolved on and off ever since it was announced at E3 2013, and yet once you got a chance to actually play it, all those colors and musical notes whittled away at your rocky exterior and found the childlike whimsy underneath. As I sat there and watched you wave your arms in time to the music, I saw your heart grow three sizes. How does it feel to be human, Ray? Josh
Ray It’s very scary. The cold, emptiness that once occupied my chest was a constant companion that I’m not sure if I’m ready to keep going without. That being said, yes, I did have a tremendous amount of fun with Fantasia: Music Evolved. While this is your second go-around playing the game, I had yet to try it out. As a fan of Disney, and of previous Harmonix titles like Rock Band (I always played drums), I was pleasantly surprised to see how this odd marriage was working out. And who knew I could keep time to Nicki Minaj’s “Super Bass” so well?
Well, Ray, I’ve always thought that you had a black woman with butt implants hiding inside you somewhere, so it’s good to see my suspicions confirmed. You’re right, though. This was a repeat visit for me, and I’d say I had exactly as much fun with it this time as the last. No more, no less. That’s not a bad thing, per se—I argued its merits pretty heartily against Eric last June—but hearing about a few more songs, seeing a new area, and trying out multiplayer didn’t do much to increase my excitement, either. I think I’m just a little surprised the game isn’t, you know, already out yet. I’m definitely still on board with the concept, but it’s been 10 months since I last saw it, and it doesn’t feel like very much has changed. I’m a little envious of your fresh eyes for exactly that reason. Josh
Ray Yeah, seeing it for the first time now has me excited for it to finally come out. I just wish we knew when that was and am equally as surprised we still haven’t gotten a solid release date. What also surprised me was the strong focus on the single player with new region The Hollow being shown off along with new song “Symphony No. 9 from the New World” by Dvorak. The Hollow looked simply great as it was full of interesting creatures and beautifully done in the Disney art style. Fantasia: Music Evolved looks to have the most involved single player from a Harmonix game yet. But until you and I duked it out in all our arm-flailing glory, I was still on the fence. I think that this game, like most of Harmonix’s major properties, still shined brightest when playing multiplayer—and that could be a problem.

Yeah, The Hollow looked nice. The wood cut aesthetic was neat and different enough from the other areas I’ve seen, but like you said, the single-player experience seems like the kind of thing that won’t make a lot of sense until we’ve had a chance to sit down and play it through. Just like last time, I have a vague sense of how these different panorama areas will work—searching for interactive objects, using them to introduce new beats and instruments to the soundscape, playing songs to progress—but I have no idea what it’ll actually be like when I’m spending that forty-five minutes to an hour actually doing it on each level. A part of me is worried it’ll be geared towards a much younger audience, like a sort of Kinect-driven Playskool playset, but I really can’t get a feel for whether or not that’s the case. Thankfully, there’s still a way to just hop into quickplay on whatever song you like, and like you said, there’s multiplayer. I’m curious: How’d you adjust to the interface for everything? Even the second time around, I still feel like I’m having a bit of trouble figuring out the timing. Josh
Ray It took me the entirety of the three songs I played to finally start to get the rhythm down. It’s definitely a process, though, and maybe the single-player can help with the learning curve. I found it very hard to wait for the auditory cues to fall in line with the visual cues sometimes, as my natural instinct was always to go as quickly as possible. It took a lot of restraint on my part to hold back and make the proper physical movements in time with the markers and music. But, just like Rock Band or Dance Central, it seemed to be a matter of practice on my part, not a deficiency with the game. I will say it was nice to see how accurate the Xbox One Kinect was. I felt like the peripheral rarely misinterpreted my movements. How did it feel to you?
The Kinect itself felt much better—last time I played, the Xbox One hadn’t even been announced, so I was stuck using the 360 model—but I’m still having some issues with the timing. I think the difference here compared to something like Rock Band is that it takes my arm longer to get from waist level into a completed gesture than just flicking my thumb across the strum button on a plastic guitar. In multiplayer, I also struggled a bit with picking out the cues we were both supposed to hit, since they had both colors on each one, and it was easy to miss some of them when the other player’s color was on top and mine was on bottom. Like you said, though, those are both basically my failings, not the game’s. All in all, though, I’m still excited to give it a shot—that is, provided we’re not writing up another preview the same time next year. What about you? Josh
Ray I think we’re both in complete agreement that the positives far outweigh the negatives—at least from what we’ve seen thus far—when it comes to Fantastia: Music Evolved. The only question left is when we’ll get something narrower than the “2014″ release it’s been saddled with. Whenever it does finally drop, however, I think it’ll be the first Kinect 2.0 game we’ll see that really takes best advantage of the device. I can’t wait.

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