Fantasia: Music Evolved, Nothing Can Save Kinect Now

Fantasia: Music Evolved is Harmonix’s most experimental project to date. Now that’s saying something: this is the studio that found success in making us party to club hits in our living rooms, after all. Sadly, though, Fantasia has arrived a little later than expected on Xbox One months after Microsoft has all but abandoned Kinect and so, despite its good ideas, it’s a game that struggles to make its intentions or audience clear.

As a sequel to the classic Disney animated film from back in the Forties, Fantasia: Music Evolved does an excellent job of capturing the tone and feel of the original source material. As apprentice to sorcerer Yen Sid, you are tasked with navigating beautifully drawn and diverse themed worlds to rid them of the ‘Noise’. No, that doesn't mean Cannibal Corpse has invaded the soundtrack, the ‘Noise’is a corrupting force that you’ll need to irradiate with quick movements, rhythmic flailing and all of the stamina that you can possibly muster.

If you thought that Dance Central was exhausting, prepare to feel your arms really burn as you wildly swing them like a possessed teenager conducting an acid trip-induced symphony. As pre-determined motion cues appear on the screen you're tasked with punching, swiping and tracking your hands through the air in time to the varied 30-song soundtrack. Be warned, though: while the game is built around celebrating the act of music creation with any and all players, regardless of skill, Fantasia revels in making you look an idiot to anyone that might be fortunate enough to catch you playing.

When you dig into Fantasia’s simple mechanics, the real magic begins. Once you’ve cleared the irksome campaign, you’ll have the opportunity to create your own remixes. Each song is packaged with two additional variations classical compositions layered with drum and bass, for example and it’s then up to you to mix and switch musical cues to create your own monstrous mash-ups. It’s easy to get swept up in your own creations, especially if you invite a second player into the process with Fantasia’s co-op mode. Even when you hopelessly butcher a track with off-kilter sounding beats, you’ll still struggle to not smile at your own audiovisual creations.

Fantasia: Music Evolved is a fun, if not too forgiving, experience but it’s still one that feels hampered by the hardware itself. Like every Kinect-required game that precedes it, Fantasia stumbles as Kinect often fails to pick up basic inputs and commands. With the peripheral no longer mandatory, it’s tough to see who Fantasia is for: too easy for adults and, with no real difficulty levels, potentially too difficult for kids. If you own Kinect then it’s worth a play, but don’t rush out to purchase the camera if you don’t already have one in your cupboard.

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