We don’t usually review these kinds of games on IncGamers – as you’re no doubt well aware, our audience is made of the ‘hardcore’ variety. However, we thought it only right to highlight Kinect Disneyland Adventures (just ‘Disneyland’ from now on) because it’s quite different from the norm. Not only the norm for Kinect titles, but the norm for any game.
The term ‘experience’ is rather overused these days (ourselves included) but this really is just that. Rather than the collection of mini-games this could so easily have been in another set of hands, the team at Frontier have crafted a world that feels every bit the world of wonder it’s supposed to be.
When it comes to recreating the vibe of the real-life Disneyland, Disneyland does a pretty darn good job.
The key to this achievement rests in the level of detail and polish applied to every inch of the park. While the virtual park is not a pixel-perfect imagining of Mickey’s California home, it’s extensive enough and as close to the real thing as to trick all but the most knowledgeable of aficionados into believing as such.
On every corner you’ll run into Disney characters of varying levels of fame. From Toy Story’s Buzz Lightyear and Woody to Peter Pan’s Peter Pan (obviously) and others such as Donald Duck, Mickey Mouse and Winnie the Pooh, there are many characters for everyone no matter which era of Disney you prefer.
The manner in which you can interact with each of them is fairly superficial, predominantly confined to hugs, dances, photo opportunities and having them sign your autograph books. Basically, anything and everything a kid aged five to nine years old would want to do with their favourite animated friends.
Despite their superficiality, the interactions are just about enough to make them worthwhile – although the rate at which you will tire of them relates directly to both your age and your love of the characters themselves. I’m not afraid to admit that I’ve got a bit of a ‘thing’ for Disney, so my patience for such superficiality is quite robust.
Similarly, the ‘missions’ that tie the game together are hardly going to excite those brought up on a diet of Gears of War, Uncharted and Call of Duty. In most cases your quests take you on journeys to find missing items (Donald Duck’s hat, for example) and deliver notes between characters. Again (and I don’t know how to get this across without sounding like a broken record), it’s the interacting with the world itself that’s the important thing.
Delivering a note from Woody to Jessie is hardly dramatic, but it’s Toy Story’s Woody and Toy Story’s Jessie and that alone makes it special. That sounds disgustingly lame, but it really does and will for the kids in your household.
However, it’s not all hat finding, mascot hugging and photo taking. There are rides to ride as well.
These take the form of mini-games based on the real-life rides themselves. Varying drastically in length and complexity, they ask you to perform such tasks as fly a small shuttle through asteroid belts and futuristic gates in Space Mountain, collect treasure and attack alligators in Pirates of the Caribbean and navigate a dilapidated railroad in Big Thunder Mountain.
There are 18 rides in all, however most them have multiple parts. For example, the Peter Pan ride sees you fly through Victorian London in part one, exploring Never Never Land in part two and sword fighting and avoiding cannon balls in parts three and four. It’s not possible to fail these rides/mini-games, but you are rated out of five stars.
Controls are predictably simple – lean from side to side, aim and shoot with your arm, repeat the dance moves (in It’s A Small World) – but they work without fuss or hassle. In fact, of all the Kinect titles I’ve played, it’s Disneyland that works best with the system. Like all Kinect games the controls do not work perfectly, but it’s consistent enough to convince your kids that there’s magic in the air.
Speaking of kids… they’ll probably be able to complete the rides without breaking a sweat, but the bigger kids among us (myself included) will find longer sessions somewhat tiring. Longer games such as Space Mountain and Big Thunder Railroad require quite a bit of dexterity and a lot of movement – play it enough and I imagine Disneyland can double as a half-decent workout.
All games can be played with two players by having a second person jump into the playing space at any point before or during a ride. In these moments Kinect can struggle to pick up your movements with the same clarity as when playing solo but the added fun of playing as a pair makes up for it.
The park, the rides, the characters and everything else are wrapped together in some lovely graphics, great audio work and a game engine that never (and I mean never) falters, stutters or slows down. Seriously, the underlying framework this game is built on is impressive given the scale of the environment and the number of characters (yourself, other park guests and Disney characters) on screen at any one time.
Considering this is a game aimed mainly at the younger generations, the only major oddity is the obsession with capitalism. Depending on your stance on such things, this will either be a good/bad thing or simply a non-issue. Disneyland asks you to collect ‘magic coins’ at every opportunity. Whether you’re on a ride, walking around the park or interacting with Winnie the Pooh and co. you’re always urged to collect and spend your cash.
Other than the obligatory clothing items for your avatar (Finding Nemo hats, Sleeping Beauty dresses and what not) your other major purchases are likely to be photo albums and autographs books. Certain characters will only sign certain books and appear in certain photo albums so you’ll need to purchase them all to complete your collections. If this is not a prime example of rampant (insulting even) commercialism then I don’t know what is.
Not that this element is surprising in the least, this is Disneyland after all. Where dreams come true but nothing is free.
Despite that, what Disneyland demonstrates is that not all games need to be about competition, high-scores and achieving personal feats of skill. I’m sure many will write Disneyland off as shallow and boring because of the lack of such elements, but to do so is to completely miss the point.
The joy here comes from the interaction and the allowing of yourself to be caught up in the world on offer. Yes, if you’re over the age of 12 or not a Disney fanatic you’ll grow bored of it but everyone else will be having a great time. Of all those on shelves right now, there’s no better game to play with your kids.