E3 2013: Fantasia: Music Evolved (Impressions)

by: Matt -
     I'm all for a concept when I hear it from Harmonix Music Systems. I may not have enjoyed the Dance Central games, but I can appreciate what they were trying to accomplish. When it came to Fantasia: Music Evolved, I had no idea what to expect, so when I got to see a presentation today at the Disney booth I was impressed, and intrigued. I'm not sure if this is an evolution of music, but it is definitely an interesting concept.
    
     The on-stage demo gave us a look short look of an undersea world called 'The Shoal' that offered plenty of exploration in the Fantasia world. Our demonstrator had plenty of objects that he could interact with in the world, and with the wave of a hand he could breathe life into the world. He started by summoning sea horses, each creating a musical note to go along with their appearance. This brought a little bit of color to the darkened undersea locale, but the real way to make a change in the world, was to interact with a sound sphere. 

    This sound sphere had Queen's 'Bohemian Rhapsody,' and upon selecting it, our demonstrator was tasked with creating music 'on a molecular' level. The directional arrows on screen offered an ebb and flow of the music, and as each swipe was accurately completed, the track would swell and grow in volume. At certain junction points, our demonstrator could change the backing track to be more strings oriented with accentuated violins, or give it an 80's rock arena vibe, he could include a great piano accompaniment, or even a timpani backing. This gives each track a number of branches to it, with each branch offering up a different score, which will surely be the bane of leaderboard chasers.

     Doing well at certain parts of the song allowed our presenter to access musical modifiers, which put the music through a number of filters which he could freely manipulate to modify the sound, like one would behind a mixer, bending and pitching the track as he went. Upon completing the track, the watery wonderland sprang to life. Now there were a lot more areas that could be interacted with, and in the background, 'Bohemian Rhapsody' gently continued along, until our presenter dove deeper, and found a turtle, who apparently had 'jazz clams' on his back. These musical clams functioned as a live drum machine, and with the wave of his hand, he had a drum fill that played alongside the Queen hit single. Other songs not immediately playable would also affect the backing track players hear while exploring the underwater environs. Unfortunately our demo had to come to an end before we could be shown more.

     From a conceptual standpoint, Fantasia: Music Evolved felt like one part Elite Beat Agents, one part Electroplankton, and two parts Harmonix Music Systems insanity. The idea behind it is certainly an interesting take on a music game, and hopefully when the game launches later this year on the 360 and Xbox One this concept will be as captivating to play as it was to watch.
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