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Disney Magic Kingdoms Review - When you wish upon a star, you probably won't wish for this


For: iPhone

Beauty and the beast

Product: Disney Magic Kingdom | Publisher: Gameloft | Format: iPhone | Players: 1 | Version: Europe | App version: 1.01
 
Disney Magic Kingdoms does a good job of placing you at the heart of an extravagant theme park, both in terms of recreating the wonder and mystery of exploration, and in replicating the arduous queuing system.

It has all the beauty and magic you'd expect from a Disney game, but as with many F2P games it's a tale as old as wait-timers.

And if you’re not willing to nourish Disney Magic Kingdoms, that greed will take great pleasure in feeding you just enough to line your stomach, then starving you of content for hours at a time.

It's not to die for

Normally that wouldn't be a big issue, but because Disney Magic Kingdoms is designed with a younger audience in mind, the pop-in ads and unnecessarily lengthy delays in gameplay are a pretty poor show.

Sometimes you have to wait as long as 6 hours to progress the story, when you may have only been playing for ten minutes total. This happens with increased frequency the deeper into the game you go.

Suffice it to say, even a 7 year old is going to run out of patience when the parental unit refuses to pull out the credit card on a whim.

And that's a real shame because buried underneath all of the murkiness, there is an interesting - occasionally entertaining - park-simulator to be found.

Part of your F2P world

You're tasked with lifting the fog-of-war-like curse placed on the Magic Kingdom by the ultimate Disney big-bad, Maleficent.

With the help of Merlin, Mickey, and a whole host of other familiar faces, you must restore magic back to the Kingdom, get the crowds in with attractions and concessions, and keep them happy by fulfilling their wishes.

But while the game's narrative direction is disjointed, ham-fisted, and often grammatically incorrect, the mechanics and user-interface are both seamless, and well-implemented.

You always feel in control when moving and placing buildings in the park, although because areas gradually open up over a period of days, your park quickly starts to look congested and clumped together.

The game also looks and sounds beautiful. The characters are well animated, the environments are authentic, and you'll find yourself whistling while you work as classic Disney themes play overhead.

The connectivity through Facebook also works well - you can visit your friend's parks and collect gifts for your trouble. There are even community challenges to be unlocked which reward you with unique attractions for your park as well as extra gems.

It's just unfortunate that - if you're not willing to spend a penny on the game - the downtime in Disney Magic Kingdoms is extremely noticeable and frustratingly tedious.

Can't you just let it go?

I wish I could, but when the game tells me Goofy is going to take 4 hours to change a lightbulb, the boundaries of my leniency really get tested, irrespective of how true it may be.

Disney Magic Kingdoms isn't particularly generous either. You spend most of your time collecting stars and potions to increase your overall park level, but when most of the attractions have to be paid for with rarely dispensed gems, that grind starts to feel a bit superfluous.

To unlock certain characters, you'll also need to have specific ingredients which can only be acquired by performing set acts in the park. Which is fine. Except that there is only ever a chance that object will drop when you complete the act.

For example, Mickey could be researching magic for an hour in the hopes of getting Woody's Sheriff badge at the end of it, but he might not get it. This means he has to spend another hour trying again. And maybe another hour on top of that.

All this is - of course - avoidable if you spend cash to get gems so you can fast-track your way through. For those that don't want to spend however, it's an exploitative system that manages to mostly ruin a sometimes very good game.

Disney Magic Kingdoms desperately wants you to be its guest, but it expects you to bring your own wine, main course, dessert, plates, cutlery, and a box of After Eights.

Fortunately, many of the issues are easily fixable, but as it stands the game's greed is difficult to look past or move beyond, making it hard to appreciate its better traits.
 
Disney Magic Kingdoms Review - When you wish upon a star, you probably won't wish for this
Reviewer photo
Ray Willmott | 18 March 2016
Disney Magic Kingdoms is the very worst of F2P, but with the fine polish and occassional quality of a premium release
 
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