Crossy Road, to this day, is easily one of my favourite mobile games of all time. I played it non-stop when it first came out and every once in a while I like to revisit it, if only to try and beat my high score. When Disney Crossy Road was announced a little while ago (which we previewed) I was both excited and intrigued by how far creators Hipster Whale would go in updating their mobile behemoth. The good news is, they’ve been able to maintain the same addictive nature of the original whilst providing some unique and more challenging ideas at the same time, wrapped in a blanket of nostalgia and colour.

IMG_0730From the outset, Disney Crossy Road provides you with the forever hero, Mickey Mouse, and sets you off along a seemingly similar but slightly updated crossy path. Everything seems familiar, from the traffic to the train tracks and the river systems, but upon closer inspection you’ll notice a more cell shaded look to the surroundings and an 8-bit track based on the ‘M-I-C-K-E-Y’ Mickey march theme that ran for many years. It’s cheerful and enjoyable, but it’s not until you start unlocking other characters that things take a unique approach to the games mechanics.

My first unlock, rather surprisingly, came from the theme park ride ‘Haunted Mansion’ (or the movie of the same name, though I doubt they got Eddie Murphy in here), which turned the typical road ways into the mansion itself, complete with ghosts, moving furniture and my favourite part, the train tracks replaced ghostly figures taking the ride itself. There’s also a voice track which I’m pretty sure is taken straight from the mansion too, though I’ve never ridden the ride so someone else will have to confirm that one.

Something I never did with the original Crossy Road was purchase an in-game character straight up. You don’t have to, it’s entirely optional and over time characters will be unlocked over time (if you play enough you might get them all), but this time I couldn’t help it. The very first thing I saw in the list of unlockable characters, waiting for me to find them, was Baymax. Easily one of my favourite Disney/Marvel characters of all time, how could I wait to unlock Baymax!

I didn’t wait to unlock Baymax. You know what? No regrets. As he trundles along in a world based on Big Hero 6, he slowly loses his power and shrinks down unless I find batteries along the path to power him back up. It’s more a neat reference to the movie then a new mechanic, as is the little bit thingos Hiro made that appear every once in a while.

The Toy Story level, however, is easily the coolest one I’ve played so far. Not only do you have to contend with toy cars, chattering teeth (were there chattering teeth in the movie? Honestly don’t remember that if they were) and the usual fare, you also have falling toy blocks going down the screen, which ads an extra level of difficulty that I’m mad keen on. I haven’t unlocked everything yet, so I’m sure there are other surprises in store for me, but this level takes the cake so far in terms of mixing things up just the right amount.

There’s a huge amount of potential for expansion here too. Though the game already has a ton of characters and levels (also including the most recent Disney film, Zootopia/Zootropolis as well as Inside Out, Wreck-It Ralph and Tangled, there’s still a ton of other films Hipster Whale could mine. Besides the obvious (Frozen, of course, or any of the animated classics), I’d love to see content based on the likes of Wall-E, Fantasia or the upcoming Finding Dory. Plus there’s crossover potential with other Disney owned products … though what’s the bet that a separate Marvel or Star Wars Crossy Road may appear in the future instead? $5? Sure, why not.

Disney Crossy Road is the perfect marriage between the now established gaming brand and an institution both kids and adults enjoy. There’s enough content here to please diehard and casual fans alike and enough variety that experimenting with the various new levels will extend the longevity of the game well beyond just beating your high score on the vanilla game type. I’m obviously excited to see what Hipster Whale do next (Xbox One/Ps4 edition? Make it happen, team!) but I’m super happy to see such a talented group come together with a big name IP and release a certified winner in every way.

Disney Crossy Road is available now for free on iOS and Android.

Mark Isaacson is a freelance journalist who … damn it someone just beat my high score, excuse me a moment…

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