Joseph Rositano
03 Jul, 2007

Meteos: Disney Magic Review

DS Review | Magic is in the eye of the beholder.
The original Meteos was one of those unique puzzle games which brought a new, yet simple concept to a genre that has since become hugely popular among DS owners. Of course, it was only natural a sequel would be spawned. However instead of rescuing those stylish alien creatures again, this time Meteos fans will be giving a helping hand to those lovable Disney characters. Before dismissing Disney Magic on that one fact alone though, most of the original game’s charm still shines through and even a few new elements have been added to give returning veterans something to look forward too.

For those who never played the original, the basic gameplay idea behind Meteos is to clear the screen of blocks that drop down from above. To get rid of the blocks, you must place three of the same coloured blocks in a straight line, either horizontal or vertical, via the touch screen. Instead of disappearing however, the blocks will act as rockets and ‘launch’ into space along with any blocks lying on top of them. Additionally, each level has a different gravitational pull which affects how far the blocks launch and the load they can carry efficiently. Should you fail to successfully launch all of them in the one go, you will be able to utilise any remaining blocks on the stack in order to implement a secondary boost.

The main difference between Disney Magic and its predecessor besides the license, is that the game is now played with the DS console turned sideways like a book (ala Brain Training) which makes the playing field higher and allocates for larger stacks to form. By doing this, the game also makes way for several new gameplay elements, the first one being you can now move blocks horizontally (sideways) as well as vertically. To answer your question – yes, it does make the game easier however, once you start playing through the higher difficulty levels and challenge modes, the game becomes a lot more challenging and the new movement becomes more than a welcome addition. If you are a returning veteran, the horizontal movement will take some getting used to, but it’s nothing that a small amount of time won’t fix.

There's also an option to make the game friendly for left-handed players.

There's also an option to make the game friendly for left-handed players.
The second change in Disney Magic is the new Special Gauge meter which fills up over time. Once it is full, it will light up and display a symbol indicating the special ability you can activate. The special abilities are pre-determined for each stage and include a nitro boost where all blocks will launch with greater force and slow mode which, as its name suggests, slows down time and allows you to think about what you’ll do next. Additionally, there’s also a Horizontal Block Movement ability which grants horizontal movement for blocks (in Expert difficulty, players are only able to use the classic Meteos movements of “up and down”).

Lastly, many of you may remember the original Meteos had several different items which could wipe your screen clean of blocks or even produce a small smokescreen. In the case of Disney Magic however, this has been replaced with three “special blocks” which appear randomly during levels. They include the Rocket Block that launches three blocks in a single row – one being the Rocket Block itself with the other two being beside it, - the Replacing Block which changes a single block type into another block type and lastly, the Wild Block which acts as a substitute for any block. While it does seem a tad short over the original, it actually maintains balance during levels and in particular multiplayer. Before, for example, player one would get the Fury Hammer when player two would get the smokescreen, a serious imbalance. Cutting it down to three items, all of which are designed to make launching blocks easier, makes the game fairer. More importantly, only those who utilise the special blocks to their full potential will likely benefit greatly from them which adds a bit or strategy to the game during multiplayer matches or when you’re trying to obtain high scores.

While all this action takes place on the touch screen, the normal screen features animations inspired by a Disney franchise. Notably, as you progress in each level, the animation changes to more energetic scenarios unfortunately, given the fast paced nature of Meteos, your eyes can usually spend no more than a second or two observing the animation which is a real shame given a lot of hard work has obviously been put into them. That being said, you are able to unlock the animations and view them at your leisure under the Extras menu along with the game’s soundtrack but it just isn’t the same since it’s away from the action and doesn’t provide enough interest to warrant multiple viewings.

Here comes the Boogie Man.

Here comes the Boogie Man.
This leads us to our biggest (small) complaint about Disney Magic. Despite there being dozens, if not hundreds of Disney franchises available to be included in the title, only nine made the final list with each having two different inspired levels. These include (deep breath), The Lion King, Toy Story, The Nightmare Before Christmas, The Little Mermaid, Cinderella, Pirates of the Caribbean, Winnie the Pooh, Lilo & Stitch and of course, Mickey Mouse. Originally, one of Meteos’ strong points was that it had literally dozens of different worlds which kept the game fresh however, Disney Magic manages to wear a little thin after a while simply because the two different worlds inspired by the one franchise have similar themes attached. We’ll give the developers credit though as there’s a decent mix of classic and modern franchises, especially given The Nightmare Before Christmas was included when it had no spin-off series or sequels (as far as we know of at least) that the other franchises enjoyed.

Multiplayer is pretty much on-par with the original and can be enjoyed with up to four people at a time. You can either host or join a timed match or a survival match where players have a set amount of lives and whoever hasn’t used all their live at the end wins. In the case of hosting a match, you can also choose the Special Gauge ability that players will be able to use and the usual level and match specification options. During a multiplayer match, small squares are placed in the top left corner of your screen which symbolises different players and you can choose to either launch blocks at a specific player or all of them simply by tapping the squares with the stylus. What’s become somewhat of a standard for DS games, if there’s only one copy of Meteos: Disney Magic between four friends, you can still play a multiplayer match via single-card download or you can even send out a demo of the game via the same method.

Visually, Disney Magic uses a range of rainbow colours to, obviously, recapture the style of the various Disney franchises. The developers obviously did put in a lot of effort to do this and clearly researched each franchise well. Even the different set of blocks match their corresponding levels extremely well such as when Mickey Mouse is lighting the skies of Disney World with fireworks and you’re launching firework-inspired blocks into the sky. As mentioned, the normal screen plays host to several animations which all look impressively similar to their film/TV-counterparts however it’s just a shame much of the time spent on them is wasted by the sheer fact your eyes are glued to the endless supply of falling blocks.

Scar was so cool in that musical number of his with the smoke and lighting effects.

Scar was so cool in that musical number of his with the smoke and lighting effects.
Where the visuals triumph, the soundtrack unfortunately doesn’t follow. While much of the game’s music is themed accordingly to the franchise, there isn’t a single remix of any famous tunes. It just lacks that flair traditional Disney movies have benefited from, particularly the ones featuring musical numbers. The Lion King levels for example feature some vocal work of people singing in, presumably, the African language but if one was to compare it to the actual movie, it’s clearly different. There’s really no excuse for it, the developers/publisher have the licenses for the franchises so why are we treated to the visuals and not the audio?

At it’s core, Meteos: Disney Magic is pretty much the same game as the original Meteos however, as the saying goes: “If it isn’t broke, why fix it?” Q Entertainment and Disney Interactive Entertainment have stayed true to this phrase and have created a game which not only borrows from but also builds on the original Meteos in a good way. Admittedly though, returning players may find things a little too similar while others may have found the aliens more appealing than Disney characters. Otherwise, Disney Magic is a great follow up to a DS classic.
The Score
The additions added to Disney Magic more than make it a fun and engaging title however, it may seem a little too familiar for returning players and only nine franchises have been taken advantage of plus there are no remixes of classic Disney tunes. Despite this, it’s still a worthy follow up to the DS classic.
Looking to buy this game right now? PALGN recommends www.Play-Asia.com.

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6 years ago
Unfortunately, with his game, I think it won't appeal to the fans of the old game, mainly because they'll be put off by the kids design. Good to see Nightmare BEfore Christmas there but icon_smile.gif
6 years ago
Disney isn't necessarily kids, looks quite good to me, it has more personality then the first meteos that's for sure.

I like it, and i like the attention they've put into the artwork for the various level designs.Looks good.
6 years ago
Disney certainly hasn't stopped Kingdom Hearts selling, and being considered an awesome game by most people. Its the same type of game anyway isn't it? Just with a Disney theme to it, so it shouldn't really stop fans of the first one buying it.
6 years ago
^ Exactly. This game looks like it has a much higher presentation factor than the previous games. If I still had a DS I would get it. Meteos is always addictive as hell - I got it on my mobile now too haha
6 years ago
El Taco wrote
Unfortunately, with his game, I think it won't appeal to the fans of the old game, mainly because they'll be put off by the kids design. Good to see Nightmare BEfore Christmas there but icon_smile.gif
Only kids think Disney is for kids.
6 years ago
Meteos Disney Magic is as challenging as the original & the slight gameplay improvements i.e. moving blocks horizontally & the vertical orientation of the play area, are a welcome changes!.

It's as challenging, addictive & fun as ever & really. If you like puzzle games, then this is for you.

BTW Disney owns ESPN & Touchstone. Turok is one of Disney's new next gen titles & will be out on Touchstone label soon!
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  Pre-order or buy:
    PALGN recommends: www.Play-Asia.com

Australian Release Date:
  21/06/2007 (Confirmed)
Standard Retail Price:
  $69.95 AU
Year Made:

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