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Having grown tired of the dreary scenery in the Underworld, Hades decides to make the Magic Kingdom his new summer home; however, Merlin would be able to easily repel an invasion with the power of his magic crystal. In an attempt to outwit Merlin, Hades sends Pain and Panic to steal the crystal, however their bumbling leads to the crystal being shattered into eight pieces that scatter to each area of the Magic Kingdom. Merlin recruits the player to help him find the pieces of his crystal, giving them magical cards with the Sorcerer's Crest on them; the crest itself is used when specifically needed.
Needing help himself, Hades revives Ursula, Maleficent, Scar and Dr. Facilier, promising them second lives in exchange for a crystal fragment. The two witches have schemes of their own to usurp power. Posing as Boss Teal - Underworld Crime Boss, Lord Indigo of the East Underworld Trading company and Lazuli, god of the underworld, Hades also promises Cruella, Ratcliffe and Yzma something they each want in exchange for help; the 99 puppies, Pocahontas' land, and to be empress of Adventureland respectively. Under the alias "Prince Azure", Hades also forces genie Jafar into helping. Though he meant to guide the player throughout the kingdom, Merlin forced to fight off Hades' lesser pawns that are trying to invade. Therefore, the player's guidance comes from a foe of each villain: Sebastian, Merryweather, Rafiki, Mama Odie, Pongo, Pocahontas, Kuzco, and Genie.
When all the villains are defeated, the magic crystal is restored. However, Hades isn't one to give up; he sends in Chernabog - his "Number 1 Guy". Unfortunately, it was only a distraction to let Pain and Panic try stealing the crystal again; they predictably fail. Deciding to use brute force, Hades amasses his army of the dead, which is led by the other villains. Through Merlin's guidance, the player uses the magic of the Sorcerer's Crest to seal Hades and the villains inside the mystic crystal. The crystal is then returned to Merlin's study. Inside the crystal, Hades is left to wonder what went wrong with his plans.
There is no additional charge to play the game (unless you opt to buy cards and/or the card binder (which has card sleeves with proprietary holes...normal card sleeve insert holes do NOT line up with the rings in the binder as of Oct, 2018 and the cast members at the Fire Station and the shops do not know where the inserts that fit can be found) at the Emporium or the Frontier Trading Post). You start by going to the Fire Station on Main Street USA (between City Hall and the Barber shop) to get the game set up and linked to your magic band or entry key. Once linked, you will need to keep that band/card. The game does not transfer to a new band/card when you return on your next visit. It stays with the originally linked band/card.
First time players are given a thorough run through of the game at the Fire Station, so getting started is pretty painless. There was a card distribution location behind the Christmas shop in Liberty Square, but this location has closed (verified Oct, 2018).
Once set up, you will be given a set of cards, a map and told where to begin. The game is played at portals marked on the map in Main Street, Adventureland, Frontierland/Liberty Square, and Fantasyland. Tomorrowland does not have any portals (as of Oct, 2018). Each land with portals has 5, though construction can limit this number.
You activate a portal by placing your key (band/card) next to the keyhole. Once activated, an animation will play and you follow the story from there. The animation is captioned, so hearing impaired guests can play. You 'fight' the villains by showing your spell cards when prompted to 'Cast your Spell'. Some interactions require you to use your 'Sorcerer's Crest', which is on the back of the card. There are cameras in the wall by the animation screens that read the cards as they are presented. Lighting and angle/distance can affect the read, which causes an unexpected mechanical level of difficulty. Regardless of the outcome of the 'fight', at the conclusion, you will be directed to another location symbol which matches a location on the map. If you go to the wrong location, activating the portal will tell you that you are at the wrong portal and re-display the correct location symbol.
There are 9 main villains and additional associated henchmen. Each have strengths and weaknesses based on the type of cards you use.
There are 3 levels of difficulty, Easy, Medium, and Hard. Easy and Medium pretty much follow the strength and weakness listing, but as of 2013, hard was changed to a random strength/weakness per villain
There is no time limit and you can play during peak ride-wait times or as a specific activity. You may have to 'shoo' park guests from the portal area as they may choose that location to pause for a rest unaware that the portal even exists, but once the game starts, you generally attract the immediate attention of any nearby child. Stroller and scooter parking in front of a portal can also be an issue, but asking a nearby cast member to move them will usually resolve the issue ( It's not a good idea to move anyone else's property yourself. Cast members have the authority to do that).