Disney Magical World
| Disney Magical World

There's a great feeling of celebration to Disney Magical World that kids will probably love.

Before you've even selected your Mii, you're told that you're 'lovely'. And the road to Castleton, the fancy Disney resort to which your character has been personally invited, is lined with hype men and showered with confetti.

"Castleton is full of all kinds of neat things," one enthusiastic munchkin declares. "May your every dream come true," chirps another. Their enthusiasm is infectious, albeit a little worrying.

Does the King rule this place with an iron fist, demanding absolute compliance? Are his subjects shackled to their positive scripts by a regime of fear and intimidation?

And, more importantly, how can Castleton possibly live up to this level of hype?

Last resort?

Disney Magical World takes its cues from Animal Crossing, so you'll know what to expect here. It's a pleasant villager simulator, not some white-knuckle thrill ride.

It's the sort of game in which Donald Duck compliments your outfit and you run errands for the chancellor, rather than popping off headshots or drifting fast cars.

In fact, 'pleasant' is the perfect word to describe it, if we are to damn the game with faint praise here. Yes, life in Castleton is pleasant. But that's not to say it's fun or exciting in the way you might expect.

Castleton's population is a little strange. Of course it's familiar in places, with partially voiced Disney characters at every turn, but it seems that the developers quickly realised they didn't have enough iconic faces to fill the game world.

The result is that the town is padded out with Mii-style genero-folk, mouthing off about how they love Daisy's boutique.

The Disney heroes and heroines are well done, though, and there's an undeniable sprinkling of magic here for those who love the characters.

Yen Sid, the big old wizard from Fantasia, shows up to teach you magic. Chip and Dale are perfectly suited to running a workshop, and succeed in being just as annoying as they always were.

Scrooge McDuck runs a department store, and will happily buy your unwanted stuff (to sell on for a massive profit, no doubt).

Even Winnie the Pooh, a character who is fairly distinct from the usual clutch of Disney characters, has a pretty version of 100 Acre Wood to live in.

When we're introduced to Pooh, the helpless bloater is being dragged along by some kind of runaway helium balloon - just what you'd expect from the loveable, honey-loving buffoon.

There are plenty of other notable mentions, too, but what I'm getting at is that the characters are all pretty spot-on. And Disney fans - kids in particular - will likely be drawn in in by that alone.

God save Donald Duck, vaudeville, and variety

It shouldn't take you long to start enjoying Disney Magical World, and settling into the plodding pace of village life. Progress is denoted by stickers, but you're free to collect them in any order you wish after a linear prologue.

Want to catch some fish? Go for it. Want to make sure your café is a successful business? Do it at your own leisure - the easy-going folk of Castleton don't seem very bothered even if you run out of food.

You can even take on quests to rid the area of monstrous baddies using the magic you've been given by Yen Sid. These are the most action-packed bits of the game, and even though the combat is basic and the enemies are weak, they're actually surprisingly fun.

The plan here is that the hustle and bustle of Castleton, and the charm of Disney, will hold the player's interest over a long period of time, despite the lack of any major excitement. Right now the inhabitants are celebrating Halloween, and the game's intention is that I stick around to see Christmas.

And while I'm unlikely to do that - the game lacks the absurd, compulsive appeal of Animal Crossing - Disney Magical World is a surprisingly robust experience in its own right.

Disney Magical World

For more seasoned gamers, Disney Magical World might be a pleasant surprise. For kids, it could feel genuinely magical