Fantasia: Music Evolved Hands-On Preview [E3 2014]


This week at E3, I got the opportunity to both play the upcoming Harmonix motion-controlled rhythm game, Fantasia: Music Evolved, and talk to a few of the developers and obtain some more information on the game.

The demo I played, which was running the Xbox One version of the game, had a surprisingly long list of tracks to choose from. I ended up going with “Feel Good, Inc.” by the Gorillaz, since it’s a personal favorite. While song selection can be handled with the controller, gameplay itself is entirely gesture-based via the Kinect sensor. Players have to move their arms to swipe in specified directions or punch forward to the beat of each song, all folowing timed onscreen prompts like most other rhythm games.

Each song will contain within it three unique remixes, which can be switched between at specific prompt points. Other sections will also enable you to make your own backing track via gestures, which will then be played in the background during gameplay.

The game seemed engaging, if not a bit overwhelming for my first attempt. There can be a lot going on all at once, and it will likely take players a lot of practice to master pulling off proper inputs and timing. I also found out that, unlike Harmonix’s previous games such as Rock Band and Dance Central, songs will not have multiple difficulties, so hopefully some of the earlier songs in the game’s campaign will ease players in.

After playing, I got the opportunity to speak with Harmonix employees Eric Pope and John Drake for some more details on the game. They were able to confirm that a 2-player head-to-head mode in the vein of Dance Central will be included, as will the ability to play replays of your performances. In terms of what the Fantasia license from Disney will bring, they confirmed that Yen Sid, the wizard from the film’s iconic Sorcerer’s Apprentice section, will play a heavy role as the player’s mentor in the story mode, and Mickey Mouse will naturally make an appearance at some point as well.

As for the history behind the game, it turns out that Disney themselves were the first ones to approach Harmonix about the idea 4 years ago, though Drake mentioned that he initially feared that they wanted some sort of Hannah Montana spin-off instead of something based on Fantasia. As for notable differences between the Xbox 360 and Xbox One versions of the game, the only real changes will be in the quality of the visuals and some increased motion tracking precision the Xbox One’s Kinect sensor brings. In other words, it doesn’t seem like those who are interested in the game but only have a 360 will be getting an incomplete package.

Fantasia: Music Evolved will launch in North America for Xbox 360 and Xbox One on October 21. We will keep you updated as more news on the game is released.