A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this game.
This is a fantasy-based MOBA (multiplayer online battle arena) game featuring Disney and Pixar characters, but there are no messages here whatsoever -- good, bad, or otherwise.
Positive Role Models
This game features fictional characters from animated Disney and Pixar movies -- such as Jasmine (from Aladdin), Wreck It-Ralph, Moana, Elsa (from Frozen) and Buzz Lightyear (Toy Story), to name a few -- and while they're admirable characters (as shown from the movies they're in), they're using attacks to destroy rival teams, which some parents may feel negates their positive traits.
With the initial cast of characters in Disney Melee Mania (with more to come over time), there's some gender and racial diversity, including Moana (Polynesian), Frozone (a Black character from The Incredibles), Mulan (Chinese) and Jasmine (who is either Arab or Indian, depending on whom you ask). Some playable characters aren't human at all, like the Timon from The Lion King (a meerkat), EVE from WALL-E (a robot), and Mike Wazowski, a monster from Monsters, Inc.
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Ease of Play
Disney Melee Mania is easy to play using a virtual analog stick and buttons on an iPhone or iPad screen, or via a wireless controller for all four supported Apple Arcade platforms: Apple TV, Mac, iPhone or iPad. There's a tutorial and practice rounds against bots (non-human players).
Violence & Scariness
As a MOBA (multiplayer online battle arena), combat is the core game mechanic, as teams of three are pitted against one another on various maps. Using weapons that are exclusive to each character, the goal is to defeat the opposing team within the allotted time. This game doesn't contain blood or gore, and characters will re-spawn if destroyed.
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Products & Purchases
This Disney game's primary appeal is the ability to build a team with familiar Disney and Pixar characters from animated films, such as Mickey Mouse, Ursula (The Little Mermaid), and Bing Bong (Inside Out). This game may be seen as a marketing vehicle to promote other Disney media (movies, TV shows) or products (like toys). But there are no direct advertisements for Disney products. As an Apple Arcade game with the $.4.99/month service, there are no in-game advertisements or the option to buy content for real money.
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Disney Melee Mania is a downloadable MOBA (multiplayer online battle arena) for Apple Arcade. It's a Disney- and Pixar-themed game featuring familiar animated characters, like Elsa and Mickey Mouse. Team-based combat is the core gameplay mechanic, as players will use melee and range weapons to destroy opponents. But there's no blood, gore, or death in this fantasy action title. Parents should also know there's no option to communicate with other players online when playing with or against them. But the game could be seen as a marketing vehicle for Disney and Pixar shows and movies, even though there's no overt advertising for this content.
Is It Any Good?
As the first Disney-themed MOBA, this is a highly enjoyable and accessible multiplayer brawler that gets it mostly right. Disney and Pixar fans will no doubt enjoy playing around with each of these familiar characters in Disney Melee Mania, each with their unique powers, and the more you play, the more you unlock. For example, the more matches you win, the more XP (experience points) and stars you'll earn, which can then be used to unlock rewards, like bumping up your characters' abilities, earning new outfits, and gaining bonus fighters, too (that weren't previously available to you).
There are a few things that could be improved, though, such as the graphics, which look out of date. In fact, the visuals are reminiscent of the Disney Infinity games from 2013, and feel muddy and unsharp. Also, there's some lag here, when you're playing against others (and there seems to be a lot happening on the screen at the same time), and you may experience some hiccups -- which could affect your performance -- but no freezes or crashes, at least. Maybe this can be fixed with future patching updates. Another potential issue is there are no consequences for exiting out of a match you're not doing well in. Many other MOBA games penalize you for doing this (which is also unfair to your teammates). As part of the impressive Apple Arcade service, for only $4.99/month, it's well worth it -- not to mention this is a "play to play" game opposed to a "pay to play" MOBA, so the value is evident. While not a perfect 10, Disney Melee Mania is a fun and frantic offering that will likely get better over time when new characters are added and performance issues are hopefully ironed out. But it's a great way to introduce tweens and teens to the popular MOBA universe, with characters they likely already know and love.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.