Last year’s surprise hit in Japan, the Namco Bandai-published Disney Magic Castle: My Happy Life, is coming to America under the new name Disney Magical World. Many have mistakenly compared it to Animal Crossing, and while on paper there appear to be similarities, it’s actually somewhat closer to Rune Factory.
There are simulation aspects in the game, although instead of tending a farm, you manage a café (but you can still grow crops on the side). There’s combat, too, but instead of dungeon crawling, much of the combat I witnessed was out in the open.
One also can’t help but compare it to past Namco Bandai titles We Cheer and We Ski. Those two Wii games, plus this new 3DS title, all feature similar character designs for the player avatars. We Ski in particular shares a similar sandbox vibe. You basically wander around the Magical Kingdom, running into various Disney characters who are in need of help, or who just want to chat.
As noted, you run a café, which is perhaps the most important part of the Magic Kingdom, both in-game and in real life. After all, the highlight of any visit to Disneyland in real life is their excellent hot dogs, is it not? One needs to maintain the right menu to keep customers happy in their seats, though having pretty looking furniture is equally important.
There will be times when one needs to venture out a bit, to obtain necessary ingredients and materials for said eatery. There are four areas, each based on the worlds of four famous Disney personalities: Cinderella, Alice in Wonderland, Winnie the Pooh, and Aladdin. When I swung by the Alladin zone, I was asked by the namesake himself to deal with some nasty ghost-like creatures that were terrorizing the denizens of Agrabah.
Meanwhile, Huey, of Huey, Dewey, & Louise fame, had a simple fetch quest for me. You’ll find him and other totally random personalities just milling about the castle.
Speaking of, one major component of Disney Magical World is customizing your character, and for that you need Daisy Duck, who runs the clothing boutique. Throughout the course of the game, you find materials that she in turn can use to produce all sorts of apparel. Shirt, hats, even pants and dresses. Yes, Daisy can help cover the lower part of your avatar, despite her penchant for being totally naked from the waist down.
There are unique clothing options for both male and females, too, though the Nintendo rep I spoke to was unsure if boys can wear girls’ clothing, and vice versa. Someone who has already played the Japanese version might know the answer. Also, there is no trading of clothes between players, but there is StreetPass functionality, that allows players to compare each other’s cafés.
Overall, I found Disney Magical Castle to be a charming little title, perfect for someone who is perhaps a bit bored with Animal Crossing, or someone who’s interested by how Disney worlds come together in Kingdom Hearts but is turned off by some of the convoluted aspects of that series.
Unfortunately, the one thing I loved the most about the last Disney game I played that also took place in the Magic Kingdom, Kinect Disneyland Adventures, is not present—which is the ability to hug Mickey and Minnie Mouse. Oh well.