E3 2013: Fantasia has me in its musical grip

No one has really made a good Kinect game except Harmonix. Their knowledge of the camera and effective ways to use it is matched by no one. After three Dance Central titles, Harmonix announced they were working on something else. Shortly before E3 they revealed Fantasia: Music Evolved, a rhythm game based on and inspired by one of Disney’s most classic movies, Fantasia.

The game is played similarly to Elite Beat Agents or Ouendan. Indicators will appear on the TV screen, telling you which way you need to wave your hand. You just need to time it correctly so that when a shooting star hits the thick end of the indicator, that’s when the move starts registering. The song that Harmonix was showing off during the demo was Bohemian Rhapsody from Queen. This is a song I know very well, and I was eager to play.

The unique feature of Fantasia: Music Evolved is that the music you are playing can be remixed on the fly. At certain points in the song, you can opt for a more acoustic sound, orchestral, or go heavier on the rock. You can even mix and match to get a unique sound all your own. The remixes sound very faithful to the original without being derivative. It was how I personally would imagine an orchestral version of Bohemian Rhapsody to sound.

Now that I have time to reflect on it, I don’t know how much depth there was to Fantasia: Music Evolved: but it’s clear Harmonix wants to sell the experience of the abstract visuals and sound to combine in an experience that sucks you in and drowns out the feeling of the rest of the world around you. Now, I have to admit they’re not quite there yet. I demoed the game on an Xbox One, and the Kinect lost its ability to track me several times during my song. It could possibly be because the people behind me were getting up and walking around, but the loss of control almost killed the experience. It wasn’t the best first impression of the new Kinect, but if anyone can fix it, it’s Harmonix.

Fantasia: Music Evolved will be released on Xbox One and Xbox 360 in 2014.

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