Saturday, 24 October 2015

Disney Dream Treats


Disney Dream Treats is a new pay-to-play mobile game from Disney Interactive in which players take a culinary tour of Disney's theme parks. Similar to many puzzle games available for Apple and Android products, this game has players connecting lines of identical snacks. Unlike other puzzle games, this one has the Disney brand and Disney assets behind it. For Disney fans, it makes it a lot more fun when you're in the Plaza Inn, scooping up Dole Whips for Mickey Mouse, and the Fantasmic fanfare plays when you beat the level.

The download itself is free, but they find ways they hope to extort real money. When the game is first downloaded, you are given five hearts that are required to play the levels. You can keep playing for as long as you have hearts. But every time you lose a level by not finishing it in the allotted number of moves, you lose a heart. Once all the hearts are gone, a window pops up offering to let you buy more with in-game tokens that can be purchased with real cash. Since hearts regenerate over time, all running out of them really accomplishes is giving you an excuse to stop playing for a while.


Where they really try to separate the coin from your wallet are the power-ups that become increasingly necessary as levels become increasingly difficult. Different power-ups scramble the board, clear away lines, and so forth. After an initial gift of a few, they become a monetary commodity. Unfortunately, there does not appear to be any set algorithm for each successive level becoming more difficult. They throw an increasing number of obstacles in your way (snacks that have to be "unwrapped" before they can be cleared, snacks that have to be "unwrapped" twice, snacks that have to be "unboxed" before they can be "unwrapped" twice, snacks that have to be "unboxed" twice before they can be "unwrapped" twice), with a random assortment of snacks, with a limited number of moves per level. If you are of the disposition to not throw away money on pay-to-play games, this has the potential of getting frustrating.

Another way to spend money is by buying outfits for your avatar. The game allows you to snap a photo of yourself and your friends to use as faces on the avatars you're feeding with all these snacks. Different hats, t-shirts, and so on can be purchased with in-game tokens.


The use of Disney's assets is the both the greatest benefit and greatest weakness of Disney Dream Treats. On the one hand, it is really fun to be visiting the Plaza Inn in Disneyland USA, the Akershus Royal Banquet Hall at Walt Disney World, and Buzz Lightyear's Pizza Planet in Disneyland Paris to clear away Dole Whips and churros. On the other hand, those are the only places you go, and only identifiable Disney treats you clear.

Levels only alternate between those three aforementioned restaurants, which serve as visual backdrops for the puzzle. It would have been better to rotate between different restaurants in those three resorts, maybe even increasing in stature as the player rises in levels (e.g.: from, say, Jolly Holiday Bakery to Pinocchio's Village Haus to Plaza Inn to Rancho del Zocalo to Cafe Orleans to Blue Bayou in Disneyland, or at least have Toad Hall, Cafe Hyperion, Casey's Corner, Silver Spur Steakhouse, Auberge de Cendrillon, and Walt's - An American Restaurant in Disneyland Paris). The lack of variety is compensated for having different characters host each level: Mickey and Friends for the Plaza Inn, Princesses for Askershus, and Toy Story characters for Pizza Planet.

Most of the snacks are generic things: purple cupcakes, green Key Lime pies, red Mickey donuts, etc. Only Dole Whips and churros stand out as real Disney snacks (unless I missed something because the last thing I would go out of my way to eat at Disneyland is pie or cupcakes). It might have been nice, in a visually rich game that doesn't have to rely on colours, to include turkey legs, Mickey ice cream bars, candy apples, beignets, Mickey waffles, mint juleps, and other distinctly Disney treats.

Despite those missed opportunities, Disney Dream Treats is still a fun little time waster to tide one over between trips to the theme parks. There are enough visual and auditory cues to stir fond feelings. If it is compatible with your device, download it before its shelf-life wears off.

 

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