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There's no shortage of games that build on the Disney IP: we've reviewed a fair few of them over the years on Board's Eye View. In the vast majority of IP games tho', players represent characters from Disney movies. The big difference in this collaboration between Funko Games and the Prospero Hall design studio is that you're playing as filmmakers rather than Disney characters.

Animated is a fully cooperative game for 2-4 players. You pick from one of the five Disney movies in the game: Snow White (1937), Fantasia (1940), Alice in Wonderland (1951), 101 Dalmations (1961), and Aladdin (1992). Players each take a board for their film and a tuckbox containing the components. Specifically the tuckbox will contain the polyomino tiles that you'll be using to build the background and the movie cels that you'll overlay. There will also be various other components specific to the film (for example, for Snow White, there are wooden tokens representing the Seven Dwarfs).

In addition, there's a central board that includes a deadline track, which is your game timer. Tho' you're not playing as Disney characters, the villain from each of the movies in play is trying to frustrate their filmmaker's efforts. They'll advance the deadline track, as will calamity cards that players are unable to resolve. Ultimately, players will need to pay the specific resources needed to neutralise their villain by pulling them into the movie, but first they'll have had to complete all the other aspects of putting together their animation.

One of the key elements of the central board is a display of action cards. These are in slots numbered 1-5, and that number represents the strength of the action. The Background action lets you place out background polyominoes. Ink & Paint lets you acquire inks and paints of various colours, which you'll need to place out the character cels, but you need to have built the background before you can apply the cel as an overlay. The Animation action lets you draw one, two or three cards which you may be able to use to activate a character's special abilities once you've placed out their cel. These cards may also help you deal with calamities and you'll probably need them as part of the package for putting your villain in the movie. The Sound action is specific to each film; this is where, for example, the Fantasia filmmaker gets to deploy their music tokens for their particular effect. Tho' the Sound actions are unique to each player, they mostly drive cooperation with the other players. Finally, there's the Magic action where, at the cost of a Magic token, a player can take any other action but at the strength of the Magic action card. Ideally, you'll want to use the Magic action when Magic is at position 4 or 5 and the action you are replicating is only on 1 or 2.

Animated comes with beautiful components. We especially love the animation cels because they are similar to cels actually used in Disney animations. The game is balanced well so that it's genuinely challenging for players to complete their movies before hitting the game-ending deadline. The game scales well for different player counts, and if you do happen to find it too easy, you can readily step up the difficulty by increasing the number of calamity cards that you have to deal with.

Disney-themed games are often designed with younger audiences in mind but we've recently been seeing an increasing number aimed at seasoned gamers. That was the case with Disney Sorcerer's Arena: Epic Alliances (The Op) and it's true too for Disney Lorcana (Ravensburger). Disney Animated is in this same camp. It's certainly playable as a family game and it can be a great gateway game for introducing players to gaming mechanics they might not have previously experienced but there's enough of a cooperative challenge here too to keep seasoned gamers on their toes, even if some may gripe about the linear nature of the moviemaking tasks. And there's a lesson here too in making Animated a cooperative game: we're reminded that production of an animated film is a collaborative effort involving many hands.

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