It’s deceptively simple. It’s deceptively hard. And it’s blatantly addictive. It is ‘Lost Light,’ the newest mobile app game from Disney Interactive and Creature Feep, the studio behind ‘Where’s My Water?’ and other original properties for Disney, now available for Apple iOS and Android devices.
Note: This is a review of the original motion picture soundtrack to Disney’s Frozen. Reviews for the film are under embargo until later this month.
On November 25, Walt Disney Records will release the original motion picture soundtrack to Disney’s Frozen in both single disc and 2-disc deluxe formats (available for pre-order via Amazon and iTunes), the latter of which features demos of songs that didn’t make it into to the film for various reasons (25 were written with just eight plus a reprise making the final cut). In addition to the songs written by the [married] songwriting team of Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez, the soundtrack features a score by Christophe Beck and orchestration and arrangements by Dave Metzger. With a pedigree such as this, it’s a natural expectation for the soundtrack to exceed, but frankly expectations are greatly exceeded in what can easily be seen as Disney’s best musical since Beauty and the Beast, and in some ways, even better.
Television, movies, living vicariously through others, Disney, rare and unique finds, whiskers on kittens and cheap and feeble attempts at humor by parodying Hollywood’s most beloved classic musicals: these are a few of my favorite things. So needless to say I was thrilled when I learned that Syfy would be introducing a new series titled ‘Hollywood Treasure’ in which we followed the path of Hollywood’s treasures from unearthing to ending up on the auction house block. And when Syfy reached out to me to ask if I would be interested in reviewing the first two episodes from the 12-episode season, I would have ordinarily jumped at the chance, but what could Syfy (owned by NBC Universal incidentally) possibly offer me, someone who focuses on The Walt Disney Company? Apparently everything (but more on that later).
TRON is, I say with no shame to speak of, one of my all-time favorite films (it’s so me and Al Gore will always have something to discuss). So when Walt Disney Studios decided to revive its viral campaign a second time (the first being San Diego Comic-Con’s reincarnation of Flynn’s Arcade) and combine it with my hometown, I was at the ready.
It all started when Flynn Lives, a grassroots campaign of members unknown, published what was almost immediately identified as a binary clock counting down to February 24 at 11 am ET. Apparently ENCOM CEO Kevin Flynn (Jeff Bridges) had gone missing twenty years ago and hadn’t been heard of since, but the organization is certain Flynn is alive and is doing whatever it can to bring his cause to the nation’s attention.
As the countdown continued, a list of 25 cities worldwide appeared below the clock. Then at 11 AM ET on February 24, the cities were each listed alongside a numbered grid and — throughout the day — cities would become active, requesting than a volunteer operative go to a designated location revealed only when the city opened up (an arcade) and be the first to locate a contact in a FLYNN LIVES tshirt and pass along the secret phrase. In return, the operative received a nylon TRON wallet containing newspaper clippings about the campaign, three TRON trading cards (which then translated into the numbered mosaic of a new image from the film) and a Flynn’s Arcade token.
It was then revealed that a special IMAX event would be taking place earlier today with limited tickets simultaneously becoming available at 9 PM GMT for five cities: Los Angeles and New York in the United States, Toronto, London and Sydney. Based on the audience size, I suspect no more than 50-75 tickets were available (each being a +1), so I was fortunate enough to secure one.
Entering the IMAX theatre (the 8-story tall one in New York), we were handed our 3D Glasses and a free FLYNN LIVES tshirt and found our seats. Shortly after 10 am ET, the lights dimmed and the trailer unceremoniously began. And now, the review/spoilers:
Title: The Muppets Animal Drummer (link)
Publisher: Walt Disney
Released: December 15, 2009
Pros: The Muppets; good graphics; great music and sounds; fun, addictive and simple gamplay
Review: From Disney Interactive Studios, Enorbus and the Muppets Studio comes The Muppets Animal Drummer, a rhythm based game that has its roots in the electronic board game Simon in which you must repeat Animal’s drumming sequence in (near) perfect rhythm, so it differs from the Dance Dance Revolution genre in that you must remember the sequence rather than reacting to it in real time.
Title: Phineas and Ferb Arcade (link)
Publisher: Walt Disney
Released: December 3, 2009
iTouch?: Yes (WiFi/Internet required for scoreboard)
Pros: Quick, addictive play, free preview available
Cons: Controls sometimes difficult, navigation buttons inconsistent
Review: In a series of 3 mini-games, Phineas and Ferb brings the number one show for kids ages 6-11 (not to mention popular with every other demographic) to the iPhone.
Here’s the plot: While Phineas and Ferb are trying to build a snow mountain so they can snowboard in the backyard (S’no Problem), older sister Candace goes surfing in the backyard tide pool trying to impress Jeremy (Cowabunga Candace!), all the while Perry the Platypus is acting as Agent P, trying to protect the secret hideout from infiltrators (Agent P’s Hideout).
Here’s the thing: If you’re a Phineas and Ferb fanatic, you might find yourself thinking those game names sound familiar — and they should. All three are actual almost-direct ports of existing games you can play online for free. Granted the controls are different given the nature of a personal computer versus an iPhone (and to be honest, in the latter two games, the iPhone wins in this respect), but gameplay is virtually the same which means if you aren’t familiar with them, you can try them out online first before buying the game (see links below).
Just in time for the exclusive engagement of Disney’s The Princess and the Frog in Los Angeles and New York City beginning this week, the soundtrack for the film has been unleashed. With a series of hits and misses over the past 15+ years and Disney taking breaking from its Menken safety net, how does ‘newcomer’ Randy Newman fare for the first Disney Princess in a decade?
Click here for our review.
Title: Prep & Landing (link)
Publisher: Walt Disney
Released: November 19, 2009
iTouch?: Yes (WiFi/Internet required for some)
Pros: A couple of entertaining games/features
Cons: Long, frustrating gameplay with little payoff, promoted items missing
Review: On December 1, ABC will air its first ever original holiday special produced by Walt Disney Animation Studios. That’s the good news. The bad news is they want to charge you for downloading the promotional app and it falls way short on expectations and even promises.
After watching a surprisingly brief promo for the special, you are presented with two menu options. Kringle Academy is where you’ll find 3 mini-games and P&L Specialized Equipment is where you’ll find the ‘extras,’ which are often more entertaining than the games themselves, unfortunately.
As a general rule with the game, sound effects are nil (Christmas carols are your only source of audio candy) and gameplay is exceptionally long with repetitive movements. There’s also no scoring system so you’re really only competing for ‘distance’ and colored rewards such as gold, silver and red (and other, ‘lesser’ colors) which seem to offer no benefit other than a virtual pat on the iBack.
Title: LUMA (link)
Publisher: Walt Disney
Released: November 10, 2009
Pros: Quick, addictive play, good graphics and sound effects
Review: I confess when I first read LUMA’s description and saw the game shots, I thought I knew exactly how the game was going to go. At first glance, the concept seemed like this network type game I had played on a PDA long ago where ‘cables’ had to be rotated in 90 degree increments in order to connect various ‘nodes’ together to complete a ‘network.’ Although LUMA’s premise is similar, Disney Interactive (and its Enorbus subsidiary) have managed to turn the simple concept on its ears and produce a quick and highly addictive logic puzzle game.
Title:Bayou Beats (link)
Publisher: Walt Disney
Released: November 7, 2009
Pros: Free, some replay value, music from the film
Cons: Large installation due to music video
Review: In promotion of Disney’s The Princess and the Frog which opens nationwide December 11 comes this free app which includes a small, quasi-addictive game along with a music video and a lot of purchase links.
The game itself is small and pretty straightforward. Using instrumental versions of one of several songs from the feature film (but sadly not Gonna Take You There) as a backdrop, the game consists of pressing one of several buttons along the bottom as they are lit up by falling crowns passing through them. The game keeps track of how many correct touches in a row you have and then rewards long streaks by increasing a score multiplier. Where it may get confusing is that it looks like you have to ‘catch’ the individual crowns, but while you do have to prevent the crown from passing through without being touched, the key is you’re touching the button while it’s lit which means a single crown can yield you 2 or 3 successful touches if done quickly enough while a few crowns in immediate succession can yield a quick finger upwards of 15 touches or so. Get too greedy by having one of your touches land when the button is no longer lit, however, and the frog croaks and the chain count is reset to zero.