Main Street Mobile Arcade: Not “Twisted” enough…
Despite my intention to not write for a little while longer, things both Disney and videogames keep popping up that I want to write about (including a new lengthy Lego Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga trailer that I’ll probably have something up about soon) so maybe my break is over already anyway.
Moving on though, Disney’s history of video games is long and varied, and in that time though it’s mostly been titles that have played it pretty safe in terms of concepts (although yes Kingdom Hearts is very weird). This is why the latest mobile release signed off on by Disney might be one of the weirdest games ever released with Disney’s name attached to it at first glance.
Disney Twisted Wonderland is a sort of Harry Potter-style setting. It takes place in a magic school, there are exams, potion mixing, and even broom flying (though no Quidditch equivalent). The biggest twist is that the schools and indeed the characters are mostly inspired by classic Disney villains. These villains aren’t really present themselves in the game, but each “house” is inspired by classic baddies like Ursula, Jafar, Scar, etc.
So what makes this possibly the weirdest Disney video game ever? Mostly it is a super Japanese game that in all honesty doesn’t even really need the official Disney license to do what it is doing. A vast majority of Disney animated films are takes on classic tales, this game could literally do the same without using an official Disney license. I am aware that there are other media with this specific IP including a manga series and an anime currently in development. It’s just odd that Disney even signed off on something that looks so different from anything else they’ve done. The game isn’t being heavily promoted and there isn’t even an English voice cast so it’s not on the level of something like Marvel Future Revolution for sure but again that makes it incredibly strange that they’d even bother with a game like this.
And what kind of game exactly is Disney Twisted Wonderland? It’s probably best described as a visual novel with some very light turn-based battle and rhythm game elements and heavy gatcha elements but ones you don’t really need to engage with much if you don’t feel like it. The biggest downfall of Disney Twisted Wonderland is despite all this potential, it just ends up feeling kind of generic and the gameplay isn’t particularly compelling.
The biggest problem with the gameplay is while as I described there are many activities to engage in, the only ones with any rhyme or reason to them are the turn-based battles and rhythm game segments. Wanna do a broom flying lesson? Characters will get experience, but only by you tapping the screen and then it just seems doled out randomly. Same with attending lectures and mixing potions.
As for the rhythm and turn-based battle segments, they work fine, just the presentation is very pedestrian, and especially the turn-based battles there really isn’t much to them they are very straightforward and it’s even kinda hard to tell if it makes much of a difference who to bring to battle. It’s possible once you get really deep in it opens up a lot more but after several hours I was just bored out of my mind.
So then the hook must be the gacha elements where you can collect really cool characters right? Uh, I guess? Again, the game not only doesn’t give you a ton of incentive to invest in the gacha element of the game not only because it feels kind of unnecessary to move the plot along (which is a plus for sure) but also that by and large what you unlock is merely the same characters with different outfits. And I don’t mean different outfits for a character, the same character with a different outfit is treated as a separate character. On top of all this, the designs just feel incredibly generic anyways, like they are supposed to all be inspired by the Disney villains and very few of the characters feel that way you could lift many of these designs out of dozens of other similar games.
And with the not particularly compelling gameplay on top of the very generic what you have is a game that looks potentially weird and interesting on the surface but if you dig just a little beneath that it’s a lot of wasted potential. There aren’t a lot of officially licensed Disney games that look like this sure, but there are a ton of games that look and play like this and the Disney branding isn’t making it stand out or do anything special. Disney Twisted Wonderland isn’t nearly as twisted as it wants you to believe.
That’s all for today but look for another entry specifically about the upcoming Lego Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga in the next couple of days so see ya real soon!