Disney Illusion Island: A Game Truly Made for The Whole Family

“The Joy of Movement”

Disney Illusion Island: A Game Truly Made for The Whole Family

Summer Game Fest gave us our second preview of Disney Illusion Island. Chris de Hoog got to check it out a few months back virtually, and this time I was able to go hands-on with the title, along with two other players, to check out some of the co-op capabilities. “Playground parkour” was Chris’ motto, but from my preview, “the joy of movement” kept coming up.

In this very family-friendly platformer, movement is the name of the game. Everything from your stationary characters to objects in the world is constantly on the go, with a stunning art style that many will find comfort in. Disney Illusion Island is an open-world platformer, a unique choice for a game of this type, and everything built into the game is done with purpose. 

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Accessibility is a very important factor in life and in gaming right now, and Disney Illusion Island will meet the needs of many, big and small. With small touches making the game simpler for younger audiences or those just looking to enjoy their time, Dlala Studios has made the game “so that everyone can play,” and I think they have done it right.

The creators are also pulling hard on the nostalgic heartstrings with Disney Illusion Island, and after speaking with a producer at Walt Disney Games, Kelsey Wong, and the CEO of Dlala Studios/creative director/writer of the game, Aj Grand-Scrutton, I could tell that the game had a firm place in their hearts as well. I was lucky enough to chat with them after a lengthy gameplay session and find out some of the details surrounding the making of Disney Illusion Island and what they hope players get from it ahead of its release. 

Disney Illusion Island: A Game Truly Made For The Whole Family

Who is your target audience with Disney Illusion Island? Like, where did that start?

Kelsey Wong: I think we really wanted to target everyone. I think that’s just what everyone’s trying to do with games. But for us, it really wasn’t meant to be like a kid’s game. We really kind of have it targeted towards adults, but make it so that everyone can participate, everyone can play. And I think Dlala Studios did a really great job of that. Like the hearts in the beginning that you saw, if the game is more challenging for me because I’m not a platformer, I can pick more hearts or infinite hearts. I definitely put a lot of infinite hearts in the beginning. 

They also have some really great assists within these accessibility options, like with font sizes and all that. That made it so that everyone could play. So you can come in with your family. You can come in with your kids. You can come in with people who are really good gamers, and maybe they all come in with one heart and see who lasts the longest. I thought that made it really great.

Aj Grand-Scrutton: Yeah, I mean, I haven’t got a ton to add, its exactly that. Disney Illusion Island is for platform fans, but welcoming everyone is what we were going for.

Disney Illusion Island: A Game Truly Made For The Whole Family

You mentioned accessibility options. What kind of range does that have? Obviously, younger kids can jump in, but what else would we see in that department?

Aj Grand-Scrutton: What we try to do is just put on what we can to make it more welcoming. So that includes, you would have seen, for instance, in that boss where platforms come in and out. We’ve been able to extend the time on those for people who haven’t got as quick reactions.

Kelsey Wong: Or the rope drop. We made it so that you don’t have to press Y to climb up the rope drop. It climbs it automatically.

Aj Grand-Scrutton: The boost jump, we’ve got it so that if you double tap the button quickly, you can turn on a setting that will cache that input and then will do the boost jump at the optimal moment.

Will there be any more characters introduced to Disney Illusion Island?

Aj Grand-Scrutton: Right now, this is it. The Fab Four are the Fab Four. All right. The way we view it, though, is we very much built the world of Monoth. So, there are plenty more stories that can be told. I think some of those stories might feature the original characters from our world, but I think there’s a chance for stories if we wanted to bring in some more of the wider Mickey universe.

Disney Illusion Island: A Game Truly Made For The Whole Family

Why did you choose a big open world for Disney Illusion Island? You don’t normally see that in platformers. Why not levels instead of one big map?

Aj Grand-Scrutton: Great question. I don’t think anyone’s ever asked me why. We always viewed this as this island, right? We were always making the island of Monoth, and I think for us, from a technical perspective, the tech team loved the challenge of making a big seamless world game on Nintendo Switch. 

From the design perspective, we were kind of like, can we make an open-world multiplayer platformer? Can we make a game where it’s all about the joy of movement and that is in just one big continuous world? We loved the idea of the challenge. 

In pre-production, it wasn’t what you’re playing it was a few prototype areas. And once we add that in, and we felt that feeling of going from one area to another like we were all like “Oh, there’s something here.” So yeah, we’re very happy we did it, and I think the why was kind of more about why not for us, to be honest.

Disney Illusion Island: A Game Truly Made For The Whole Family

Do you think there’s potential for new maps or new sections to this map as DLC in the future?

Aj Grand-Scrutton:  I mean, I cannot officially tell you anything. I’ve not signed any DLC agreements. 

We would love to. We have loved this. I think I said to someone else that the hardest thing about this game wasn’t making it, it was letting it go, so we would love to come back. We’d love to come back to Monoth, we’d love to carry on working with these characters. And you know, when we finished the project, we had notebook after notebook full of more stuff we could do with it 

Disney owns everything now. Pretty much like the whole world. Probably Summer Game Fest. Do you think that somewhere down the line, you might start bringing in things like Marvel or Star Wars, instead of the traditional old-school Disney? Or even the collectibles from things like that, do you think those universals can ever cross?

Aj Grand-Scrutton: I think Disney already does a lot of mixed RP stuff.

Kelsey Wong: We do.

Aj Grand-Scrutton: It is all about, from what I’ve seen, at least, I think its about what makes sense, like what is the narrative you see? What is the wrapper? Does it make sense that you see Mickey standing next to Yoda, right?

Disney Illusion Island: A Game Truly Made For The Whole Family

I like that it doesn’t make sense. You’ve got Grogu on his back. It’s good!

Kelsey Wong: I think for something like this, you really just wanted to pay homage to Mickey and Friends. We haven’t had a game that really just centers on these characters in a really long time. And the fact that they’re able to make it into a playable cartoon really just added to that value and harkens back on it. There’s a bit of nostalgia, too, as well, almost like influences to some of the most recent Mickey shorts on Disney+.

Just for fun, what is your favourite part of Disney Illusion Island? What’s your favourite little tidbit to the game? Or about cool?

Kelsey Wong: The first thing that got me was the animations. I loved it. I think when I first opened the game, I just sat there for a little bit. I was watching them go because they have different animations. The movement, the island animations and the hand-drawn quality. It’s just so unique. I haven’t seen that in so long in any of the games that I’ve played, be it mobile or whatnot. People just don’t invest that time anymore.

I just really love that feeling. I also have a background in animation. So I like that Disney Illusion Island sort of ties me back to it. And then if I can be greedy and my second is the art. 

Aj Grand-Scrutton: I mean, I love it all. I think the fact that it feels like a world. It feels it feels cohesive throughout the world. The characters feel like they belong there. The gameplay will make sense. The team they’re just so incredible. They made me a brand-new Disney world which is such a big challenge to put on anyone’s shoulders

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That has got to feel pretty cool, period. Obviously, you hope people play the game, but what are you hoping people get out of Disney Illusion Island?

Aj Grand-Scrutton: Joy. This is a game all about the joy of movement and having fun with your friends.

That keeps coming up. That is my subtitle.

Aj Grand-Scrutton: That’s the only thing. I upset marketing the other day because I said I don’t I don’t care if this game made no money. If one person played it and loved it and got that joy from it, then that’s all that matters. That’s what Mickey and Friends are all about, having a good time with your friends.

Kelsey Wong: Just having fun. Like you said, when you get to see people play the game that you’ve worked on for so long and just like enjoy it.

Disney Illusion Island releases on Nintendo Switch on July 28th for $39.99. I promise you, this is a game the whole family can play.

Dayna Eileen
Dayna Eileen

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