Kinect Disneyland Adventures
An amazingly authentic virtual Disneyland with spectacular attention to detail, marred only by some uninspired gameplay
If you love Disneyland or Walt Disney World, you will feel right at home with Kinect Disneyland Adventures. The theme park is recreated with amazing details as an open world for you and your kids to explore and interact in. Graphics and attention to Disney detail are impressive, but the execution of some of the mini-games are a little repetitive.
In many ways, Kinect Disneyland Adventures reminds me of the game Epic Mickey that came out for the Wii last year. It’s a fantastic concept and the attention to detail will absolutely delight die-hard Disney fans, but gameplay itself can be a little shaky at times. But overall, it’s a winner, especially if you have younger kids in the house who are always begging you to go to Disneyland or Disney World.
The concept and the graphics of this game are amazing. You start the game out at the Train Station and the scene swoops onto Main Street USA, which should be familiar to anyone who’s been to the parks. You define your character by choosing a boy or a girl, and give him or her a face (you basically can choose one by race), and then a hair style, hair color, shirt, and pants. There’s only limited customization you can do (I’m guessing you can’t use the Xbox avatar because it’s just too cartoony for this world).
You meet a “magic ticket” that tells you how to move around. You point your arm straight ahead to walk, and you can point your arm to the left or right to pivot. I’ve heard complaints about this, but you do get used to it eventually. Still, I probably would have liked to see the option to use the old Xbox controller for walking around, as walking by pointing isn’t all that intuitive.
The ticket will lead you around to meet different characters. Of course, the first character you meet is Mickey, who gives you an autograph book. You’re basically given different tasks to do around Disneyland. You need to find Donald to sign to book, and then return it to Mickey. Then you need to get Goofy’s autograph. And so on. It’s not really challenging, as the golden ticket will lead you straight to the right character and there’s also a map you can use to see where any character is at any given time. Once you encounter a character there’s a fair amount of interaction you can do with it–you can shout “Hey there!”, get their autograph, dance a jig with them, high five them, hug them, and take their picture with a magical camera that Mickey gives you.
And so this is basically the first way to play Disneyland Adventures: walk around the park, interact with the characters, and solve different quests that they give you. You can collect coins throughout the park which you can eventually use to purchase virtual souvenirs in the stores. There are also “magic items” you can collect which will unlock secrets throughout the park.
You can just walk around and explore the park if you like. In some cases you’ll bump across different rides you can take just for fun, for example, riding the roller coaster in Mickey’s Toontown or the Dumbo Ride in Fantasyland. The attention to detail is spectacular, right down to the first-person view you see while sitting on the rides, to the storefronts along Main Street, to the views you get walking from land to land, right down to the location of the Fastpass ticket machines and the crowds (whom you can eavesdrop on).
Of course, as you walk from land to land, you’ll come across the “attractions” (if you don’t feel like walking around, you can “fly” from land to land by pulling up a park map). These are basically mini-games, and there are a staggering number of them. Each attraction is broken into different parts. The best way to describe each mini-game is that they’re idealized version of the Disneyland rides; for example, on Space Mountain, you’re really flying through space and on Thunder Mountain Railroad you’re really in a mine shaft. You can collect coins in all the rides are well.
Here are the attractions:
– Big Thunder Mountain Railroad: there are two parts to this one; in the first one, you’re pumping a mine cart to try to get in front of a runaway train, and in the process you can reach out and grab coins (which will be a recurring theme through all the games). In the second one, you’re running on the top of the train trying to get to the front to stop it. There’s actually no running involved; your character runs on his own and you basically need to lean left and right and duck to avoid obstacles.
– Jungle Cruise: there are three parts to this one. The first part was very much like the ride, complete with smart-alecky boat captain and rhino-infested waters. Here, you man a water cannon as your jungle cruise floats down the river, shooting barrels (which release coins) and the occasional rhino or elephant. The second part of this game is a blast–you need to mimic a guard ape’s motions to disarm the ape, and then get into a fruit fight trying to hit a bunch of apes by throwing bananas. In the third part of this game, you’re kayaking down some rapids, trying to steer out of danger by leaning left and right.
– Splash Mountain: There are two parts to this one. In the first, you run after Br’er Rabbit (you’ll run automatically but you can in run place to go faster). Eventually you get to Splash Mountain, where you jump into a boat and steer by leaning left and right. In the second part, you’re in a barrel going down the familiar waterfall, again leaning left and right to steer and swinging at mushrooms and items thrown at you for more points.
– Winnie the Pooh: The graphics of this one were phenomenal as you’re transported to Pooh Corner, drawn in the exact style of the movies. For the first part of this, you fly through the air holding onto balloons, following Winnie the Pooh on his baloon. You can flap your arms to move higher and duck to go closer to the ground. You need to collect coins and honey. In the second part, you’re bouncing along with Tigger by bouncing up and down as if on a pogo stick, giving an extra bounce to avoid obstacles and to collect honey. In the third part, you’re essentially playing a game of “catch” (a lot like baseball in Kinect Sports 2) where Piglet and Roo are chucking presents at you from a bush.
NEW ORLEANS SQUARE:
– Haunted Mansion: In the first part of this game you’re flying through the Haunted Mansion, steering to move left and right to avoid obstacles like chairs, cabinets and paintings. Occasionally you have to match the poses of paintings to fly through them. In the second part of the game you need to escape the mansion by leaning left and right to run and pointing a flashlight at ghosts to make them explode into a pile of coins.
– Pirates of the Carribbean: The first game here is a very realistic game where you paddle a boat with two oars, but then the game turns into one very much like the kayaking game above..
– Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters: This was a rail shooter game where you fight alongside Buzz Lightyear. As before, you fly by leaning left and right. You shoot by pointing your arm straight out at what you want to shoot (the blaster will fire automatically when you point at a target). As levels progress, you get into a spaceship flying through tunnels, battle Zerg by taking out shield generators, and escape by flying. This was definitely one of the more fun ones, which should appeal to young boys.
– Space Mountain: Here you get in your space ship and fly through space graphics inspired by the ride. To steer, you basically hold your hands out like they’re holding a steering wheel, and navigate up, down, left, and right. From time to time you’ll have to shoot things with a blaster.
– Finding Nemo: There are three parts to this game: Coral Reef, Bruce and the Sunken Ships, and East Australian current. The first game is a game of “hide and seek” where you need to hide behind certain objects so Nemo can’t find you (easier than it sounds as there’s a current you need to swim against and objects bumping into you). In the second and third games you’re swimming and collecting coins (which feels pretty much the same as the flying games)
– Peter Pan’s Flight: Again, this is a flying game where you’re leaning left and right to steer and collect coins. What makes this one special is the stunningly beautiful graphics that come right out of the movie. In later levels of this game, you’re battling the Jolly Roger (basically dodging and swinging at debris and cannonballs being fired at you), flying through Neverland, and having a sword fight with Captain Hook..
– Matterhorn: Here, you start out on a bobsled following Goofy down the Matterhorn. It’s definitely cool, but on the other hand, it feels a lot like the other flying games (lean left and right to steer, avoid obstacles, and pick up coins). The second part of the game is a snowball fight, very much like the banana fight in Jungle Cruise. The third part of the game is skiing, again, a lot like the flying games.
– Pixie Hollow: This is one of those rare games that don’t involve flying. In it, the fairies of “Tinkerbell The Movie” sit around and tell stories, and you need to strike the correct pose to get them to continue. This is definitely one for younger girls.
– Princess Faire: Think “Just Dance”, but with Belle, Ariel, Tiana, Cinderella, or Aurora acting as your trainer as they dance to their signature Disney song. It’s not as sophisticated as Just Dance (if you strike the right pose at the right time, you basically get the points), but I think a lot of young girls will get a thrill out of this one.
– It’s a Small World: The graphics and music in this one are very reminiscent of the ride, if not the content. In it, you crank a boat to “sail through the world”, stopping at various lands such as Africa, the South Pacific, and the American Old West. Each time you stop, you’ll need to mimic the moves of a dancer to get points and coins.
– Alice in Wonderland: Another game which has fantastic graphics that are reminiscent of the Disney movie, but with gameplay much the same as above (for example, as you’re falling through the rabbit hole you need to lean to your left and right to avoid obstacles and collect coins)..
First, the good. I found the graphics and animation to be amazingly detailed and accurate. For example, when playing Winnie the Pooh, the graphics, with all the scenes, the characters, and even your avatar drawn in the familiar style of the movies. Similarly, in the Finding Nemo games, the graphics take on a computer-generated Pixar feel. In the Peter Pan game, the graphics of flying through London are stunning just like in the movie. And so on. The designers and illustrators of all the mini-games definitely kept true to the originals, and Disney fanatics will be thrilled to spot a lot of little details.
The same can be said for the voice talent and music. Everything from the narrator of the Haunted Mansion to the voice of Buzz Lightyear to the sound effects of Space Mountain to the music in Splash Mountain are completely accurate to what you find in the park and in the movies and cartoons that inspired them. There were some cases where hearing a particular ride’s music brought back memories for me from years ago at Disney World.
I was also pleasantly surprised at how physical many of the games are. In some of them I definitely had an elevated heart rate and felt I got a little exercise out of them.
The one gripe I do have about the game concerns the gameplay itself. As you might be able to tell from my descriptions above, there are a staggering number of games but a lot of them feel very redundant and repetitive. Despite the dizzying number of different milieus, there seem to only a small handful of games at the core: namely flying games (where you lean to the left and right to avoid obstacles), rail shooters, snowball fights, and follow-the-leader games.
After the fifth or sixth flying game, you can’t help but think to yourself, “this again?” I think out of the 50 or so games, there were only a handful that I really felt “this is really something new and original” with regards to the gameplay. I would have loved to see as much creativity and originality in designing the games as there was in designing the game audio and visuals. Although one last thing that should also be noted is that the games do support two players, which of course adds a whole new dimension–what may otherwise be an exercise in tedium as one player can become a thrilling competitive battle for two.
Overall, this is a very fun title which should definitely appeal to fans of the Disney theme parks and the cartoons (which is basically 99% of us). I’d say that young players will definitely appreciate the game more; ironically, the very repetition that may make the game a little tiring for adults may be welcome for kids, as they can master the moves easily and play essentially the same games in different environments.
Kids will also love exploring the virtual park and interacting with all the characters, and certain parents will love that this game can keep their kids busy for a long, long time. If your child loves collection those blinging coins in Lego games, they’ll appreciate collection coins throughout this world–and spending them. It’s still not a substitute for actually going to the parks, but it’s the next best thing.