When indulging in modern, pastel-colored Disney culture, sometimes my mind twists a little. I find it impossible to walk through Disney World without imagining some kind of large-scale mythical disaster suddenly befalling its visitors and employees. A zombie outbreak, for instance. A pack of rabid dogs running riot. Bees. A nuclear blast that forces survivors to shelter from marauding mutants in the rotting guts of "It's a Small World After All."
It's especially hard to let go of such thoughts while playing Disney Magical World for the Nintendo 3DS. Though the Disney-themed life simulator provides Disney fans with tons of stuff to do and collect, it's so saccharine, so gosh-darn nice that older Disney fans might squirm a bit while playing it.
The sweetness permeating Disney Magical World makes it impossible for its denizens to interact with you in interesting ways. Dialogue-wise, there's nothing in the game that matches the hilarity or drama of Animal Crossing: New Leaf.
That said, Disney Magical World isn't about being a good neighbor so much as it's about running around and doing stuff. And once the game really opens up to you (which means grinding through the hand-holding in its its prologue chapter), there are tasks galore. You'll soon catch yourself saying, "Oh dear – I must go to the 100 Acre Wood and harvest those butter berries I planted in Rabbit's garden. Then I should go to Cinderella's Kingdom and get ready for the ball."
Disney Magical World isn't all gardening and dancing, however. You can design clothing, furniture, do some light questing and battling, and run a cafe that other players can visit via a wi-fi connection. Fellow citizens ask you for favors, and grant you valuable items when you complete them.
More importantly, when major tasks are cleared, you're rewarded with a sticker. Gathering stickers is your key to getting deeper into the Kingdom and seeing everything it has to offer.
A particularly devious feature – the one likely to keep you coming back again and again – is the ability to collect cards from Disney's mainstays, including Mickey, Minnie, Goofy, Scrooge McDuck, and his nephews. The cards, which can be reaped twice a day, feature handsome character artwork from across Disney's history. There are even rare cards up for grabs, making the hunt all the more addictive. Even if you find the atmosphere in Disney Magical World too cutesy, you'll appreciate the card-hunt.
It takes some time to settle into Disney Magical World, even though your digital neighbors certainly do whatever they can to make you feel welcome. There's no question the experience is engineered for younger Disney fans in particular, though older fans will enjoy the available tasks once they settle into the routine of Disney life. Still, you'll probably never get used to receiving compliments and words of encouragement from Big Bad Pete.
Don't let Disney Magical World's slow start and over-friendliness fool you. There's a lot to do in this neighborly kingdom, even for older fans of Mickey.