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Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom: How About a Spin-off for DHS?

Friday, August 10, 2012

Epcot has Agent P's World Showcase Adventure. Magic Kingdom has Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom. It's time for Disney to develop an interactive game for Disney's Hollywood Studios.

On my July 2012 trip to Walt Disney World, I played Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom (SOTMK) for the first time. SOTMK feels like Pokemon meets Dungeons and Dragons; you work your way through a narrative adventure by using special, collectible cards at portals located throughout most of the Magic Kingdom (conspicuously absent in Tomorrowland, at this writing). If you haven't played it before, Zannaland has a good description of the game and how it's played.

As a Disney geek, a technologist, and a gamer, I was instantly hooked on the game. This was somewhat unfortunate, as July's high crowds meant I often had to wait in line for my turn at any given game portal; only one player can interact with the portal at a time. But even this wasn't all bad. People in line were trading cards, talking about the game, and trading Disney pins. One young woman was even giving cards away, because she had duplicates and wanted to share the wealth (thank you, anonymous woman, for my WALL-E card!).

SOTMK is more complex (both in technology and game mechanic) and has greater potential for expansion and re-themeing than its Epcot equivalent, Agent P's World Showcase Adventure (which recently replaced an almost-identical game themed to Kim Possible). Aaron DelPrince recently reviewed this game here on StudiosCentral. I agree with Aaron that the Agent P experience is a step up from the Kim Possible version. But SOTMK is in another league entirely, using full-movement animation and a wider variety of variables which will affect each specific interaction in the game. Plus, the collectible cards are a "free" keepsake (included with your theme park admission), and Disney will soon release a tabletop game for these cards which can be played at home (and, of course, special cards that you can buy). Also, the fact that interaction with the SOTMK portals takes place through animation, rather than mechanical movement, creates greater potential for swapping in new theme elements as desired (much like Toy Story Midway Mania added new characters after the release of Toy Story 3).

It appears to me that the technology behind SOTMK is sufficiently flexible that they should easily be able to re-purpose and re-Imagineer it into an interactive game at Disney's Hollywood Studios. The overall theme of DHS, plus the specific themes of various areas, create opportunities for a variety of interactive games. And in fact, since the SOTMK physical portals play back a variety of animated segments based on the specific person currently playing, there's plenty of possibility to create multiple narratives and/or games for a variety of Guests. Imagine, for example, a movie trivia game with portals scattered throughout the park. Or a rock-and-roll themed game which could serve as a pre-pre-show for Rock 'N Roller Coaster, with the final portal located near the coaster's entrance to segue nicely into the ride (should players choose to ride it). Or, to pair one interactive attraction with another, how about a Pixar-themed game with portals which take advantage of the themeing elements nearby Toy Story Mania?

I'm glad to see Disney continuing to invest and experiment in new technologies for interaction. I'm looking forward to seeing what they cook up next.