'Disney Magical World'
Who's it for: Disney fans but mostly kids who like fashion and running errands
Console: Nintendo 3DS
The "Animal Crossing" series has long been a guilty pleasure of mine, particularly last summer's "New Leaf." There's something calming about running a few errands, watering my flowers and making sure my town is in order, especially after a long day.
I'm also a massive Disney fan, one who tends to put on his rosy glasses whenever Mickey, Donald or Goofy appear on the screen.
For these reasons, "Disney Magical World" looked like a game made especially for me.
Unfortunately, "Magical World" fails to capture the deep nuances that make "Animal Crossing" such an addictive joy. And while interesting in its own way, the game is more likely to appeal to younger players, especially girls.
The action starts with choosing a main character, girl or boy, and moving into Castleton, a magical town frequently visited by Disney characters.
Castleton acts as a hub where characters will greet other characters, run a cafe, shop, gather some supplies and, eventually, even move into rooms of their own.
Castleton also links to other worlds, including those of Aladdin, Winnie the Pooh, Cinderella and Alice in Wonderland. Once in these worlds you'll go on quests, hunt pesky ghosts and (mostly) gather even more supplies.
I cannot emphasize enough how many things you must collect in this game.
Supplies are needed for everything from food for the cafe to clothing from Daisy's boutique to furniture made by Chip and Dale.
To get supplies, you must collect stickers to unlock quests and "recipes" for things that can be built/crafted.
And to collect stickers, you'll need to put together perfect outfits, to run errands (lots of running errands), cook new items at the cafe, help Disney characters with their problems, fish, craft and more.
Here, "Magical World" succeeds. You always have something — usually many somethings — to do. Indeed, you'll be choosing which direction to go and which task to take on next.
But it's also where "Magical World" fails. Many of the chores seem too much like chores. You must continually check on the cafe to make sure it is stocked with dishes. Fail to do this and you won't be making money, which you will need throughout the game.
Why the kitchen manager can't decide to make another batch of omelets once they run out is beyond me. I guess even in a magical land, good help is hard to find.
The errands you run for the others in town — and usually even the Disney characters themselves — become tedious fetch quests that almost always begin with the same line about needing something the character doesn't know where to get it and ends when you deliver that something in exchange for another something.
I've played "Animal Crossing" for 11 months and am still running across dialogue that's new, not to mention items I've never seen and many that I still need to find to complete my collections.
While there are hundreds of items to find in "Magical World," doing so involves a much more tedious path.
I did enjoy the quests involving ghost hunting. Set up like small dungeons, players explore these areas, fight ghosts with magical wands (yet another collectible), gather treasure (more supplies) and finally fight a boss ghost.
None of it is particularly complex, but it is a fun diversion from an otherwise pretty straightforward simulation game.
The game's saving grace is its Disney pedigree. Meeting and interacting with so many Disney characters will bring a smile to even the most jaded face. It's impossible not to grin while talking to the Genie from Aladdin or Mickey's nemesis Pete (who's actually really nice once you get to know him).
Because of this, youngsters will enjoy "Disney Magical World" more than adults will. The quick pace of the game, along with the endless rewards of the collectible system, should be enough to keep them going.
However, the shallow nature of the simulation, and the repetition involved, will have most adults putting the game down quickly.