‘Rock Band’s’ Harmonix Tunes Up Disney’s ‘Fantasia’

Game evolves Walt Disney's vision for film into interactive game

The creators of “Rock Band” couldn’t stay quiet for too long.

Over the past three years, Harmonix Music Systems has been busy developing “Fantasia: Music Evolved,” a new videogame based on Disney’s animated classic that utilizes Microsoft’s Xbox Kinect motion sensing and voice activated controller to turn players into Mickey Mouse’s conductor from the film.

Disney Interactive will release the game exclusively on the Xbox One and on Kinect for the Xbox 360 sometime in 2014.

Harmonix pitched the idea to Disney, which had been looking for ways to turn “Fanstasia” into an interactive game. As part of the licensing deal to create the game, Disney opened its vaults to Harmonix’s team to learn about Walt Disney’s vision behind the film and to better connect the designs of the game to the film.

Where Disney intended the film to be constantly updated with new sequences, Harmonix sees the game as the latest update of the film, which happens to have evolved into a game using the latest technology available in homes.

Disney Interactive will spotlight the new title, alongside “Disney Infinity,” at the E3 videogame confab next week in Los Angeles.

Given its emphasis on songs, “Fantasia: Music Evolved,” will feature multiple versions of tracks from Bruno Mars, Fun., Kimbra, Queen, DJ Avicii and other artists that players can manipulate and save to share with friends.

In the game, the legendary sorcerer Yen Sid guides his new apprentices through new scenarios and locations to change the mix of songs in real-time.

Tracks from over 25 artists will be offered once the game is released.

The initial lineup of songs include Mars’ “Locked Out Of Heaven,” Fun.’s “Some Nights,” Kimbra’s “Settle Down,” Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody,” and Avicii’s “Levels.” Two new versions of the song, as well as the original, will be featured in the game to play and remix.

Like “Fantasia,” itself, game is set in various locations where magic influences various items.

One setting is in the ocean’s choral reef, where players can interact with animals like sea tortoises and crabs, and plantlife to trigger musical elements. Another is a robot factory, with the design of characters bringing to mind “Fantasia’s” dancing broom sequence.

In addition to creating “Rock Band,” Harmonix also helped establish the music gaming category with “Guitar Hero,” for Activision, as well as the Dance Central” franchise.

After parting ways with Activision, which kept “Guitar Hero,” Harmonix was bought by Viacom’s MTV Games division for $175 million, in 2006. It became an independent gamemaker again in 2010, keeping control of the “Rock Band” and “Dance Central” titles. Harmonix recently ended support of “Rock Band,” releasing its final downloadable song for the game: Don McLean’s “American Pie.”

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