Disney Universe combines a lot of the old and calls it new

New video games are launching faster than Santa can shimmy down your chimney. It’s the holiday season, and game developers want to make sure you have lots of gaming choices. Added to the newbies in mid October – Disney Universe, a goulash game.

You know goulash, right? There are days when there is nothing to prepare for dinner but yet you’re too tired to go to the store to buy anything. Instead you grab a can of beans and a can of corn and cook them together. You brown some ground beef and toss it in with the beans and corn. Then you slice some tomatoes, cook a potato or macaroni noodles and mix it all together and — Ta-da! — dinner. You feed the family and call it good.

Disney Universe is a mishmash of Disney and Pixar live-action and cartoon characters, tossed into Magic Kingdom theme-park-like worlds resulting in mediocre gaming entertainment and proving that even colossal creators like Disney sometimes combine things they already have on the shelf and call it good.

The game package caught my eye in Blockbuster, where I rented it as I considered whether to buy it ($45-plus) because the characters on the package were familiar … but different. Upon further study, I realized the characters on the packaging are little people dressed in costumes representing a consortium of personalities from Disney movies – “Monsters Inc.,” “Pirates of the Caribbean,” “Lilo & Stitch” and “Aladdin,” etc. It’s appealing … enticing, so I decided to test it out for $1.99.

I brought it home to the master game tester, my 9-year-old son, and we played the game on the Wii, nunchuk and Wiimote required. The 3-D game is also available for Playstation 3, Xbox 360, Mac and PC.

Players are in fact bright-skinned humanoids dressed in Disney character costumes; there are 40 different ones from Disney and Pixar movies, including “Finding Nemo” and many more.

It’s pretty silly seeing a green-skinned, bigheaded cartoon human dressed like a clown fish, but my 9-year-old thought it was “cool.” However, that was the end of his intrigue.

The game quest has you explore six different worlds by running through the varying portions of Disney’s theme parks. You defeat enemies, collect prizes and coins shaped like Mickey Mouse as well as powerups that allow you to explore new worlds and unlock new iconic costumes for your humanoid.

We chose a blue human and dressed up like Jack Sparrow from “Pirates of the Caribbean.” Then we commenced our mission in a visually dark Pirate world. I truly had trouble seeing the actions of the character because of the dark screen and the teeny tiny figure with the oversized head. But in keeping with the storyline of pirates, we swung our sword, leapt bridges, blew up cannons and followed the blue arrow that led us to missions and tasks representative of our specific world. Within 10 minutes of playing, we’d conquered the first world and moved to the second level.

Up to four players can engage at a time; action is constant, requiring more mature hand-eye coordination, which is why the game is likely rated E10 by the Entertainment Software Review Board for 10-year-olds and older.

In 10 more minutes, my gamer was done and ready to move on to next week’s video game, Just Dance 3, another release vying for your dollars this holiday season.

Perhaps Just Dance 3 will warrant your purchasing power. I can’t say that for Disney Universe. It’s basically LEGO gaming action utilizing all we know of Disney characters and movies, but they call it brand new. It’s a goulash of Disney that I’m glad I only spent $1.99 to preview. It’s back on the shelf at Blockbuster if you want to check it out for yourself.