Since Disney now owns a vast selection of major pop culture properties, many of which permeate our lives on a near daily basis, it can be easy to forget the characters that make up the heart of Disney. We’re talking Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, Donald Duck, Goofy — remember those? In recent years, such characters have largely been tied to third party franchises like Kingdom Hearts when it comes to video games.
In Disney Magical World 2: Enchanted Edition, some of the company's most enduring characters take centre stage in a game that feels very much like Disney’s answer to Animal Crossing. Originally released on the 3DS back in 2016, the Switch version of this sequel remains largely the same in terms of content, but the visuals have been given a nice lick of paint; you could say the game has been Enchanted… er, or remastered. Up to you.
At the start, you’re given the opportunity to create your character, with options to either import an existing Mii, or create one from scratch. We weren’t too impressed with the selection of facial or hair options, so we opted to import a Mii character. A word of warning here though: whatever original colours you picked for your Mii likely won’t translate perfectly into the game. This writer’s hair looks considerably more grey than it really is. A bad omen, perhaps.
You’re then launched into what feels like the most lengthy tutorial in existence. For context, the ‘aim’ of the game is to collect stickers by completing tasks in the castle town of Castleton. The first 18 of these are labelled ‘recommended stickers’, and are dished out as you’re introduced to the game’s core concepts and gameplay features. When compared to Animal Crossing, which introduces new ideas over the course of literal days (unless you’re a ruddy cheat), Disney Magical World 2 unleashes nearly everything in one go; for younger players in particular though, it’s a good starting-off point.
Once you’ve completed the recommended sticker list, the game effectively tells you to spend your days in Castleton however you wish. There’s an undeniable feeling of relief at this point, but after such a linear opening segment, it might also feel a tad daunting at first; after all, having being introduced most of the game’s core concepts within the first couple of hours, where on earth are you meant to start?
Thankfully, the game does a good job at curating certain tasks to prevent you from feeling overwhelmed. Much like Animal Crossing, the residential area of the game features a notice board that contains vital information like recommended tasks, upcoming events, and more. There’s always something to be getting on with, whether it’s cooking up a storm at the local café, tackling some ghosts in the castle vaults, or collecting crafting materials for new furniture.
The castle vaults provide an interesting change of pace from the rest of the game, requiring you to move through a series of small arenas to fight off waves of ghosts and collect the prize loot. The combat here is pretty basic: you have a magic wand with which to fight off the ghosts and you can either target single enemies by tapping ‘A’, or hold down the button for a more powerful attack that encompasses all enemies within a certain radius. You’ll gain additional wands that boast their own special attacks as you progress through the game’s various worlds, but the combat remains pretty basic throughout and rarely poses much of a challenge.
The castle vaults are just one of the many tasks ahead of you in Disney Magical World 2. After amassing a certain number of stickers, you’ll also gain access to portals that warp you to specific worlds within Disney’s wider universe. The first of these is Lilo and Stitch, but you’ll also meet the characters from Frozen, Snow White, The Little Mermaid, and more. Each world introduces its own little tasks for you to complete, and while most are small variations on the game’s main concepts, they nevertheless add a good bit of variety.
In terms of its remastered visuals, Disney Magical World 2 undoubtedly stands head and shoulders above its 3DS counterpart. Characters look more defined, colours pop, and the game just does a marvellous job of showcasing that distinctive ‘Disney’ feel. Nevertheless, there are aspects that frankly look a bit weird. Seeing your Mii standing next to otherwise well detailed characters is an odd juxtaposition, and we wish the character creation tool was a bit more robust. Additionally, some of the background assets lack detail and you’ll often see 2D sprites for trees and buildings instead of fully 3D objects.
Our last gripe with the game is a bit nit-picky, but worth mentioning regardless. The game places a lot of emphasis on photo opportunities, often prompting you to ‘strike a pose’ or line up with classic characters for the perfect snapshot. This was no doubt a great addition to the original 3DS game, and while there are still lots of opportunities in the Switch version, the requirement to hold ‘L’ down and then press ‘R’ to take a photo is rendered obsolete by the Switch’s built-in capture feature. Why these buttons weren’t altered to provide a different function is beyond us.
Disney Magical World 2: Enchanted Edition is a fine remaster of a 3DS game that many may have missed the first time around. For players both young and old who love the classic Disney characters, spending time in Castleton may well prove a joyous experience. Some aspects — chiefly the poor character creation tool and rather basic combat — could have done with a bit more TLC in this updated version, but if you’re after a decent life simulation game, this is a nice Disney-flavoured addition to an already-thriving genre.