I ended up nabbing a copy of Disney Magical World for the Nintendo 3DS a couple weeks ago and have been chipping away at it ever since. The first GameStop I went to, however, didn’t even have a single copy available since, according to the slack-jawed guy behind the counter, “We got no pre-orders for it.” Hmm. I went home defeated, but returned a few days later to a different GameStop and was lucky enough to snatch from the shelves their only copy. I guess the game isn’t in high demand, since everyone probably has Animal Crossing: New Leaf to keep them busy daily, and I get that. But I was also very curious about what Disney Magical World does differently. Surprisingly, a lot.
First off, you’re not the mayor of this magical castle and the realms surrounding it. Instead, you’re you. Well, at least I am. You can either create an avatar from scratch or use a Mii you’ve previously created, and I love seeing my Mii in action in games like Find Mii 2, so I went down that path. Plus, for a game all about customizable clothes, I want to see what I look like in a Mickey-themed apron–and only a Mickey-themed apron–not some passable clone of an avatar. Anyways, you’re dropped into this magical world with no big, hard goal to complete; instead, you’re out to earn stickers, which will help unlock other areas in the hub world, as well as give you new recipes for clothes, furniture, and other stuff. Early on, you’ll unlock one thing after another, so the pacing and progression is constantly rewarding, but around the 28-33 sticker mark, I hit a lull and had to actively plan on getting some stickers to help keep things going forward. Not a major problem, really, as by then there’s plenty of other stuff to occupy your brain even if, technically, progress is stalled.
See, Disney Magical World is one big collectathon. If you don’t know what that means, it’s a combination of collectibles and marathon, and that’s the fuel driving every action you more or less take here. In all the various hub worlds, spots on the ground will shimmer just like in JRPGs like Dragon Quest IX and Ni no Kuni, indicating an item to find, and these glow spots refresh pretty quickly if you’re looking to grind for, say, balloon apples. You can also gain items from fishing, doing miscellaneous fetch quests, and killing ghosts (more on that later). Some of these items are good for selling, some for mixing to create recipes, and some for making clothes and furniture. And some are more rare than others, requiring you to devote a decent chunk of time to fishing or planting crops to gain ’em. It’s a lot of alchemy without the alchemy pot, and if there’s one thing I love, it’s taking one item and fusing it with another to create something even cooler.
Pretty early on, you end up being the manager of the local café, which I decided to call the Drinkpad. This means you can select and create the dishes served for customers, change the room’s layout and theme, and throw big parties, the kind that might even gain the attention of some of the bigger Disney characters, like Stitch and Cinderella. There are even café-specific quests to complete, and this is where you’ll make most of your money, so long as you keep on top of inventory stock and what the people really want. Eventually, you’ll get to live above the café and can also decorate your bedroom a bit; not to the crazy extent of some other life simulator, but enough to make it feel like yours. I appreciate the ability to change your background music.
Strangely, my favorite aspect of Disney Magical World, so far, is the combat. Yeah, you read that correctly–the combat. Whenever I describe the gameplay of Animal Crossing: New Leaf to someone, I always make sure to mention that there’s no fighting, no boss battles, and hand-to-hand violence. That you just live a life and collect stuff and make your own non-violent fun. And the same can be said here as well, but you also get to take on missions that have you dungeon-crawling and zapping ghosts with your wands. It’s not a very complicated system; you can shoot a blast of energy from your wand with a simple button tap or hold to charge up for a stronger shot. Depending on your gear, you also get a set number of magic spells to use, though you can refill these as you go along, gathering items, hitting switches, and exploring the map. Instead of a roll, you can twirl out of the way of enemies by hitting the shoulder button, and that’s pretty important as, so far as I’ve seen, there’s no way to recover your health along the way. At the end of each dungeon is a boss ghost, complete with a long health bar to deplete, and upon kicking its butt, you’re rewarded even more items for your inventory. It’s not very challenging, but it helps break up the pace of simply running around, farming glow spots.
Honestly, there’s a lot to this game. I’ve not even touched on everything, though this post is now getting kinda long. I’ll write more later, I knows it. But yeah, just like Animal Crossing: New Leaf, Disney Magical World is perfect for picking up and playing for ten or fifteen minutes only to realize a half hour has gone by and I still need to collect more character cards and check on Pooh’s garden and find a pumpkin so I can go to Cinderella’s ball and and and…