Disney Crossy Road Review

The Happiest Mobile Game on Earth

Disney Crossy Road
Disney Interactive

Few games have made quite as big an impact on the App Store in recent years as Crossy Road. The debut title from Australian development house Hipster Whale, Crossy Road was a beautiful homage to Frogger with a clear understanding of mobile-first design. The game offered an ever-evolving stable of characters to unlock, and a fair monetization scheme that has since gone on to become one of the financial pillars of mobile game design.

In short, Crossy Road was a masterpiece.

But if you look back at popular culture over the last hundred years, Crossy Road is far from the only project to earn such a distinction. Some might remember Steamboat Willie, a little cartoon from 1928 that most would call a masterpiece - and one that also managed to introduce the world to a mouse named Mickey, a creator named Disney, and an entertaiment empire that has spanned generations.

I suppose it was only a matter of time until these two masterpieces "crossed" paths.

Taking the Long Road

As current fans of Crossy Road well know, the original game has seen frequent updates since its 2014 debut that have introduced new characters and environments for players to collect and explore. And while I'm not privy to the inner-workings at Hipster Whale, it wouldn't be much of a stretch to think the team could have kicked up their feet, released a Disney-themed character set, and counted the fat stacks of cash that rolled.

It would have been an easy path to take, but lucky for us that's not what Hipster Whale did. In Disney Crossy Road the studio is offering more than a branded alternative on a familiar game; they've tweaked the formula, offering up new twists and refinements that improve on everything you already love about Crossy Road.

I'm not sure that I'd go so far as to call it a sequel -- but Crossy Road 1.5? Absolutely.

What's New

For starters, getting duplicate characters is no longer the bummer that it once was. Where the original Crossy Road would take a "tough luck, pal" approach to doubles, Disney Crossy Road lets you turn those carbon copies into a new form of currency that, when spent, will result in a guaranteed new character.

In terms of gameplay, the most notable change comes in the stage design. While most every Crossy Road environment I can think of offered little more than a new coat of paint on old mechanics, Disney Crossy Road offers challenges that are unique to the stages you've unlocked. Play in the Tangled stage, for instance, and you'll be dodging wooden crates that are being hurtled down the screen. Jump into the sweet world of Wreck-It Ralph's "Candyland," and you'll be gobbling up treats that will help you power up a score multiplier.

Not every stage seems to offer a significantly noticeable twist, but when they do, Disney Crossy Road is all the more satisfying for it.

Fantastic Fan Service

At launch, Disney Crossy World offers more than 100 characters to unlock across nine different worlds: Zootopia, Mickey Mouse & Friends, Toy Story, Haunted Mansion, The Lion King, Tangled, Big Hero 6, Inside Out and Wreck-It Ralph. That's a huge amount of content -- and if we know Hipster Whale, we've got to think they're only getting started. If Disney intends to allow continued updates in the typical Crossy Road fashion, there are 92 years of company history to draw from. And there aren't even any Disney Princesses in the mix yet!

Fan service doesn't just mean having a lot of things to collect, though. It means understanding the properties you're adapting and portraying them with impeccable style. Take the Haunted Mansion stage, for example. First, they made a Haunted Mansion stage. While it's one of Disney's most memorable attractions, basing a video game level on an amusement park ride and not a film property speaks volumes about their understanding of the Disney brand. And the fact that the Haunted Mansion stage uses actual audio from the Haunted Mansion's ghost host is just icing on the cake.

From big flourishes like this to little touches, like Inside Out's Sadness only moving by sliding her body across the floor on her face (she's too sad to walk), Disney Crossy Road is a testament to everything people love about the house of mouse. Even the opening Mickey level, which at first glance looks like the original Crossy Road, has elements that bounce and sway in tune to the music like a Silly Symphonies short.

What's next?

Whether you're a fan of Disney or a fan of Hipster Whale (and after playing Disney Crossy Road, you'll likely be both), the App Store is rife with gaming opportunities. Disney have been releasing new mobile games hard and fast in 2016, with titles like Disney Magic Kingdoms just weeks in the rearview mirror, and Kingdom Hearts Unchained χ launching the very same day as Disney Crossy Road. 

Hipster Whale fans will most likely remember their first partnership with an existing brand, but if you've somehow missed it, the Bandai Namco published PAC-MAN 256 is a sublime mobile experience that's not to be missed. After that, several of the Hipster Whale crew released their take on a vertical shooter, Shooty Skies, under a different company label.

It seems almost inevitable that more content is in the pipeline for Disney Crossy Road. Everything from The Little Mermaid to TRON seems like it would be a perfect fit. But then again, this is a partnership, which means Disney Crossy Road's future potential is only as real as Disney Interactive's commitment to seeing it through. (Still, in speaking with some of the producers at Disney Interactive, TouchArcade has learned that they're open to the idea of adding Marvel or Star Wars characters down the line,  so "more content" seems fairly likely).

Regardless of what's next, there's more than enough in Disney Crossy Road at launch to keep players happy for a long time. Get those Mickey ears out of the closet; there's a new mobile game that needs playing.