Over the years, there’s been a handful of Disney-themed racing video games released: Disney All-Star Racers, Walt Disney World Quest: Magical Racing Tour, and Mickey’s Speedway USA, to name a few. However, on April 18, 2023, Disney and Gameloft decided it was time to make a new entry into this category of games with Disney Speedstorm.
So, what is Disney Speedstorm? Nintendo describes it by saying:
Disney Speedstorm is the ultimate hero-based combat racing game, set on high-speed circuits inspired by Disney and Pixar worlds. It’s a thrilling arcade racing experience where players will need to master each character’s unique skills on the racetrack and claim victory.
There are currently 18 characters (otherwise known as “racers”) from eight different franchises for players to choose from:
- Beast (Beauty and the Beast)
- Belle (Beauty and the Beast)
- Hercules (Hercules)
- Meg (Hercules)
- Donald Duck (Mickey Mouse & Friends)
- Mickey Mouse (Mickey Mouse & Friends)
- Goofy (Mickey Mouse & Friends)
- Steamboat Mickey (Mickey Mouse & Friends)
- Steamboat Pete (Mickey Mouse & Friends)
- Celia Mae (Monsters, Inc.)
- James P. Sullivan (Monsters, Inc.)
- Mike Wazowski (Monsters, Inc.)
- Randall Boggs (Monsters, Inc.)
- Mulan (Mulan)
- Li Shang (Mulan)
- Elizabeth Swann (Pirates of the Caribbean)
- Jack Sparrow (Pirates of the Caribbean)
- Baloo (The Jungle Book)
- Mowgli (The Jungle Book)
- Figment (Journey Into Imagination)
Along with characters from these franchises, there are racing environments to match each of them (except for Figment). Each environment can have from just a single track (such as The Factory) to multiple, like Mount Olympus for example, which has 8 tracks. Below is a list of each of the environments:
- The Castle (Beauty and the Beast)
- Mount Olympus (Hercules)
- Jungle Ruins (The Jungle Book)
- The Silver Screen (Mickey Mouse & Friends)
- Arbee’s Arena (Original)
- A Pirate’s Life (Pirates of the Caribbean)
- The Great Wall (Mulan)
- Toon Village (Mickey Mouse & Friends)
- The Factory (Monsters, Inc.)
There are several different racing modes for players to choose from on the home screen, from local multiplayer, to online, the season tour, limited events, and the starter circuit.
If you’re just booting up the game for the first time, I highly recommend checking out the starter circuit. This acts as a tutorial of sorts, teaching you the basics from how to race, to leveling up your characters, using items and unique character abilities, and overall getting you comfortable with the game.
There are six chapters to the starter circuit, each allowing you to explore a specific character and their tracks: Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck, Goofy, Mulan, Hercules, and Jack Sparrow.
Now that we’ve got the characters and maps out of the way, let’s dive into the meat of this game: the racing. While this game uses driving mechanics I hadn’t yet encountered (meaning, it’s different from Mario Kart), overall the gameplay is very fun. You need to learn to time starting the engine at the right moment for each character for a maximum boost at the start of the race, and there are unique items to help you along the way to stun other drivers, defend yourself, or give you a boost — similar to a mushroom for the Mario fans out there. Each character also has a unique ability, which I felt was a fun touch. For example, Hercules can call upon Pegasus, and if you drive behind Pegasus, you get a speed boost. It’s effective in the game, along with being incredibly thematic and true to the Hercules story.
Of course, like other racing games, there are custom upgrades you can make to the kart, from color to wings, to wheels, and even customized plates.
Along with the kart, you can customize your character, change up their suit, or modify their victory animation. Also, a feature in Speedstorm is your “crew.” Assigning a crew member to help a specific character will give them different driving advantages. For each collection of characters, there are different crew members you can unlock — Dreamfinder is available for Figment, except he’s incredibly rare, so good luck! You can unlock crew tokens by playing the starter circuit, the limited events, or the season tour.
The one downside to Disney Speedstorm are the in-game currencies and the “Golden Pass.” While you don’t need to spend money in the game to get all of the characters, crew members, or kart upgrades unlocked, you can buy things individually instead of grinding through the limited events or the different circuits. That being said, I find it difficult to complain about this too much as it’s nearly a standard for every popular video game these days.
Overall Thoughts on Disney Speedstorm
Overall, I was pleasantly surprised by Disney Speedstorm. The environments are charming and truly transport you into these different Disney properties that we all love. The music is absolutely incredible and actually one of my favorite parts of the game, as they managed to take classic Disney songs (such as “The Bare Necessities” or “Zero to Hero”) and create modern takes that fit with the fast-paced action of a racing game.
Between all of the different racing options, from the events to the circuits, to playing online, it always feels like there’s something to do, which I find most racing games can lack over time, leading to disinterest and eventually making you want to stop playing. With Disney Speedstorm, I feel I’ve barely scratched the surface and find myself logging in every day.
Currently, Disney Speedstorm is in “early release” with 2024 as the expected date for the full game. When it does officially come out, it will be free-to-play; however, there are three different packages you can purchase to gain early release and begin playing until then. For $29.99, you will receive the Standard Founders Pack, for $49.99 the Deluxe Founder’s Pack, and $69.99 for the Ultimate Founder’s Pack. Again, each of these packages gives you access to play Disney Speedstorm, while the rest of the stated benefits are different cosmetic options, in-game currency, and unlocking some racers early.
Disney Speedstorm is available to play on PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, Nintendo Switch, and Microsoft Windows.