You don’t have to go looking too arduous to seek out prime quality Metroidvania video games lately, however discovering one which’s child-friendly is a a lot tougher activity.
Disney Phantasm Island is an try and fill that area of interest, providing a extra vibrant tackle the style and together with Mickey Mouse and his friends as playable characters.
The sport sees Mickey, Minnie, Donald and Goofy travelling to the island of Monoth, the place they meet a bit creature known as Toku.
Toku is the chief of the Hokuns, they usually need Mickey and friends to seek out the three mystical Tomes of Data to allow them to be placed on a large magical bookshelf to guard the island.
Every Tome will be present in a distinct biome, and is being guarded by a distinct boss, so it’s as much as the participant to traverse the sport’s sizeable map, defeat the bosses and get well every Tome.
This plot is informed by way of a comparatively prolonged cutscene with dialogue that feels a bit hit-and-miss. Whereas it’s clearly aiming to be intelligent and self-referential, various the jokes fall flat, which in the end set the tone for the remainder of the sport – at instances you’ll be chuckling at humorous strains, whereas different strains really feel like they’re making an attempt too arduous and don’t land because of this.
Gameplay is usually as you’d anticipate from a Metroidvania title – your chosen character begins with a really fundamental set of talents and over time they’ll earn new ones from Mazzy, an inventor who – in one of many sport’s funnier recurring jokes – will get noticeably extra exhausted each time they hand out new expertise.
These talents are usually fairly easy – there’s a double leap, a wall leap, a floor pound and the power to swing on grapple hooks, glide and swim – they usually’re spaced collectively pretty nicely to make sure that the subsequent one seems simply as you’ve exhausted the chances of the earlier one.
It’s a disgrace, nonetheless, that every of the 4 characters is equivalent by way of how they play. Every makes use of a distinct merchandise for his or her expertise – Mickey makes use of a bit pedal helicopter for his glide transfer, for instance, whereas a pissed off Donald is as an alternative given two huge feathers to flap collectively – however all of them behave precisely the identical. Whereas this does a great job of accentuating every of their personalities, it does cut back replay issue for the reason that sport performs identically no matter who you select.
Metroidvanias can reside and die by their maps and whereas this one generally is a tad cluttered, it does a extremely good job of indicating which areas want a locked energy to be accessed (by marking them with a query mark whenever you attain them), then later altering to the icon of that energy when you unlock it, making it simple to see which sections of the map you’ve gained new entry to.
You may’t mark something on the map manually, however this usually isn’t wanted an excessive amount of since you’re often solely actually juggling one or two duties and most collectibles – the one actual side-quest of notice – are marked on the map as you stroll previous them too.
Given that it’s going to clearly enchantment to youthful gamers, there are a number of elective assists designed to assist them with the sport. For very younger gamers who don’t perceive that the longer you maintain the leap button the upper you leap – one thing this author is at present struggling to get his 5-year-old daughter to know in Mario video games – it’s doable to show off variable leap peak so even the slightest faucet leads to the best doable leap.
There’s additionally a double leap help choice, in addition to the choice to activate everlasting wall cling – with out it the participant slowly slides down the wall throughout a wall leap, however with it turned on they’ll stick with it with out sliding (until the participant manually presses Down to begin the slide).
The deal with youthful gamers additionally signifies that Phantasm Island isn’t a violent sport, no less than by way of the participant’s talents. Clearly enemies can nonetheless hurt you, however there aren’t any participant assaults within the sport, which means enemies must be averted as an alternative of harmed. The one exception is boss fights, however even then assaults are oblique (flipping switches to set off an assault, for instance) and enemies are quickly turned to stone when crushed, as an alternative of killed.
“The deal with youthful gamers additionally signifies that Phantasm Island isn’t a violent sport, no less than by way of the participant’s talents. Clearly enemies can nonetheless hurt you, however there aren’t any participant assaults within the sport, which means enemies must be averted as an alternative of harmed.”
Due to this the sport additionally isn’t massively tough – the boss fights apart – and there aren’t any problem settings, past the choice to begin the sport with one, two or three life hearts (this may be expanded as the sport goes on). There’s additionally the choice to decide on a single metal coronary heart, which basically makes the participant invincible.
One of many sport’s apparent highlights is the way in which it seems and sounds. The artwork type is exclusive for a Disney sport, backgrounds are fantastically detailed, and whereas the character designs clearly takes inspiration from the extra fashionable Mickey Mouse cartoons (all of which, by the way are on Disney+ and are genuinely hilarious), it’s additionally distinct sufficient that it’s apparent it was dealt with by a distinct workforce.
The music – by Thomas Was Alone composer David Housden – is equally spectacular, with a full orchestral rating accompanying the motion. We’re not exaggerating after we say that a few of it appears like it could match completely because the background music that performs in some areas of Disneyland (like Important Avenue USA or Fantasyland), and that’s just about the absolute best praise you can provide to music in a Disney sport. The boss music can also be equally dramatic and epic, significantly close to the tip of the sport.
Talking of the tip, that is positively the weakest level of the sport. Naturally we’ll keep away from spoilers however the plot fully falls aside, and provided that this 40-year-old author struggled to maintain up with it we’ve obtained no thought how a a lot youthful audience is predicted to know the quite a few twists, turns and character motivation monologues tossed round within the final hour or so.
The ultimate boss battles are additionally the purpose the place it’d begin to get too tough for youthful gamers, although clearly there’s at all times the choice to stop to the principle menu and reload the save with extra life hearts (or the metal coronary heart) to make it extra manageable.
As soon as the sport reaches its reasonably underwhelming ending there are nonetheless collectibles to select as much as clear the sport 100%. There are 91 Tokuns (collectible playing cards which give information on every character), 69 items of Mickey Memorabilia (that are simply small icons referring to previous and current Mickey cartoons) and 2340 Glimts (small blue orbs which improve your variety of hearts as you hit sure milestones).
Whereas it’s clearly geared toward youthful gamers, veterans of the style who’re nonetheless Disney followers ought to keep in mind that anybody with affordable talent will make quick work of this sport. Once we beat it our save file learn 5 hours and 50 minutes with 75% progress, and the way in which the map highlights all the opposite collectibles means it took one other hour or two to scrub all the things else up.
It’s clear that the optimum option to play Phantasm Island is by way of its 2-4 participant co-op mode, both as a bunch of younger gamers, or a household state of affairs with mother and father and kids. This provides further strikes like a hug (which provides gamers an additional well being coronary heart) and a rope drop – a possible nod to Mega Drive sport World of Phantasm – which helps you to pull teammates as much as larger platforms.
Finally, although, nonetheless you play, the overall consequence is identical – a reasonably easy Metroidvania which is elevated by an exquisite artwork type, improbable music and a extra family-friendly strategy, however can also be let down by its quick size, a scarcity of selection in its characters, a scarcity of latest gameplay concepts and dialogue that seesaws in high quality all through.