With the music rhythm genre on the decline, can Harmonix win back fans with Fantasia: Music Evolved?
Fantasia: Music Evolved is an upcoming Xbox exclusive music rhythm game under development at Harmonix. The game will employ motion controlled mechanics for the Xbox 360 and Xbox One with Kinect. The game has been touted as a successor to Walt Disney’s 1940 animated film Fantasia and its 1999 sequel Fantasia 2000.
In order to know more about the game, GamingBolt caught up with Jonathan Mintz, who is the Lead Designer on Disney: Fantasia Music Evolved. Check out his response below.
Rashid Sayed: Given that rhythm games are a rarity these days, what was the inspiration behind developing Fantasia: Music Evolved?
Jonathan Mintz: Disney approached Harmonix with an ambitious goal: reimagine Walt Disney’s classic film as a 21st century interactive experience. We couldn’t pass up an opportunity like that. Harmonix’s goal is to give people new ways to experience and connect with music, and this project was a perfect way to continue that mission.
Rashid Sayed: I find it interesting that Fantasia: Music Evolved is exclusive to Xbox platforms. Was there any specific reason skipping the PlayStation versions?
Jonathan Mintz: The game was built from the ground up as a motion gaming experience. We really want players to feel like they are physically shaping music and using it to transform worlds. While we’d love to bring the game to more platforms in the future, the Kinect is the best tool for allowing us to realize that vision right now.
"There’s a huge range – everything from classical masterpieces to classic rock, hip-hop to pop. Walt originally intended for Fantasia to grow and change over time, with new music being added over the years. When choosing our soundtrack, we imagined where we might have ended up today if he’d been able to realize that vision."
Rashid Sayed: I am sure you must be aware that Harmonix is going to release Amplitude which will be a PlayStation bound. But it seems that they won’t reach their Kickstarter goal. Considering that they are also developing Fantasia: Music Evolved do you think that the market for rhythm based games is on a decline?
Jonathan Mintz: Everyone at Harmonix is incredibly grateful to our Kickstarter backers, and the Amplitude team is really looking forward to creating the premier next-gen rhythm-action game. In Disney Fantasia: Music Evolved, song performanceis similar to the focused beatmatch play of Amplitude, but it also feels like the active play of something like Dance Dance Revolution. And the interactions in the realms are similar to more experimental games like Electroplanktonor Proteus.So while the core audience for rhythm-action might be small (but dedicated,) I’m hopeful that we’ll find players interested in exploring our uni\que and varied music and gameplay.
Rashid Sayed: The trailers actually gave me the vibes of it being a straight forward dance game but it seems to be a bit more open ended. What can you tell us about that?
Jonathan Mintz: This is a very tough game to introduce to new people! We’ve spent a long time working on how the game helps you learn to play, but it’s even more challenging to explain it via video or text. Here’s ashort overview: the game invites you to become the new Sorcerer’s Apprentice, learning how to perform a wide variety of great music. Once you demonstrate your skill in basic performance, though, you’ll soon discover how you can remix songs and add new solos to them as you perform. And from there, you’ll gain the ability to explore the realms of Fantasia and create brand-new music with their characters and creatures.
Rashid Sayed: What can you tell us about the different types of music in the game?
Jonathan Mintz: There’s a huge range – everything from classical masterpieces to classic rock, hip-hop to pop. Walt originally intended for Fantasia to grow and change over time, with new music being added over the years. When choosing our soundtrack, we imagined where we might have ended up today if he’d been able to realize that vision.
Rashid Sayed: Tell us about the basic gameplay mechanics. How has the game changed ever since its showing at E3 last year?
Jonathan Mintz: The game asks players to move their hands in time with musical cues, trying to make them feel like Mickey Mouse conducting the heavens and oceans in the original Sorcerer’s Apprentice segment. The better you do at this basic play, the more musical control you get over the sound of the song. Since E3 last year, we’ve refined the motion detection and feedback, adding and tuning cues to ensure that players know what to do, feel good when they’re succeeding, and really connect with the music in each song and remix.
" Once you discover songs and remixes in the realms, you’ll be able to access a Song Library where you can play multiplayer. Two players can perform a song together, competing for control of the mix and cooperating to record solos."
Rashid Sayed: Can you please explain the concept of ‘overworld’ in Fantasia: Music Evolved?
Jonathan Mintz: Players will travel to the realms of Fantasia and explore them by moving in front of the Kinect. Using the Muse, a magical orb that lets you reach out and touch the realms, you’ll be able to dive into songs, perform them, and then draw their magic back into the realms. This will transform the realms, opening new hot spots where you can record your own compositions as well as many other surprising musical interactions.
Rashid Sayed: The game is supposed to have co-operative elements. Can you please explain how that will work?
Jonathan Mintz: Once you discover songs and remixes in the realms, you’ll be able to access a Song Library where you can play multiplayer. Two players can perform a song together, competing for control of the mix and cooperating to record solos.
Rashid Sayed: Fantasia: Music Evolved won’t have a scoring system. How do you plan to reward the player then?
Jonathan Mintz: Song performance does have a scoring system. Getting high scores will unlock remixes. To get the best possible scores, you’ll need to fully perform every cue and choose the hardest remix each time you have a choice during the song. You’ll earn a point bonus for your longest streak as well. Beyond that, you’ll earn collectibles and find other secrets as you explore the realms.
Rashid Sayed: Can you confirm the resolution and frame rate that Fantasia: Music Evolved will run on the Xbox One?
Jonathan Mintz: We run at 1080p, 30fps.
Rashid Sayed: Did the development team face any issues due to the eSRAM of the Xbox One? How did you over came the challenges on developing on the Xbox One?
Jonathan Mintz: Our game was built with the Xbox One in mind, so I don’t believe we encountered any particularly difficult challenges. We were mostly excited to be working with the extra horsepower of the console and the increase fidelity of Kinect for Xbox One.
"We believe that this game offers something genuinely unique, allowing players to experience music in a whole new way. "
Rashid Sayed: Do we have a fix release date for Fantasia: Music Evolved?
Jonathan Mintz: October 21st in the US.
Rashid Sayed: Given that Kinect is an important element of Disney Fantasia: Music Evolve, what is your reaction towards Microsoft’s recent announcement of a Kinect-less version?
Jonathan Mintz: We’re hopeful that it will get more people to check out the Xbox One. Once they get excited about the system, they can always choose to pick up a Kinect and Disney Fantasia: Music Evolved later.
Rashid Sayed: Is there anything else you want to tell our readers about Fantasia: Music Evolved?
Jonathan Mintz: We believe that this game offers something genuinely unique, allowing players to experience music in a whole new way. We’ve worked hard to live up to Disney’s legacy while also delivering on Harmonix’s mission of giving people amazing gameplay experiences. We’d love for you to try it and see for yourself!