Disney characters are no strangers to the videogame medium. In fact, Kinect Disneyland Adventures isn’t even the first time that the Anaheim landmark has, itself, been featured (Adventures in the Magic Kingdom for NES was in regular rotation in my house growing up). What Kinect Disneyland Adventures brings to the table, though, is the most authentic and immersive Disney experience ever to grace the interactive medium.
The game begins where every visit to Disneyland begins, entering through the front gates onto Main Street. Everything is rendered beautifully, with player avatars pulled right from the minds of Pixar artists. You’ll meet and speak with Mickey and the rest of the Clubhouse gang, along with famous heroes, princesses and villains. The “tutorial” section of the game involves Mickey sending you to collect autographs and pictures from a number of different characters. Of course, with this being an open world, you can go anywhere and do anything you want. Certainly, this is no Skyrim, but the freedom is refreshing, especially for a Kinect title.
Moving around the park is handled by raising your arm and pointing in the direction you want to go. It’s not on rails at all, and it’s extremely fluid. As you run into characters, you can wave to begin your interaction. If you’ve purchased the right autograph book or photo album from one of the park’s many stores, you can collect a signature or snapshot. If you’ve ever been to the park, you know that there are many recommended photo locations; you’ll be able to take pictures at those, as well.
Moving around the park is only part of the game, though. You can visit approximately 20 different rides that each has multiple chapters. You’ll be sent to the Matterhorn early on to ride a bobsled and have a snowball fight with Yetis, but you can visit any attraction at any time. As a kid, I loved the Haunted Mansion and Pirates of the Caribbean. It was great to see the classic characters (and the more recent additions) come to life.
The Haunted Mansion, for instance, starts you in the stretching room as you dodge possessed objects. The leaning controls still are the Kinect’s weakest control, unfortunately, but this game seems to handle it better than others. The second chapter has you escaping the Mansion, dodging ghosts and using your flashlight to disperse them. It’s fun and pulls in moments from the real Mansion to create a genuinely interesting play experience.
In each ride, you’ll collect coins along the way to boost your star rating. There are also hidden Mickey silhouettes to be found that also boost your rating. Getting hit will prevent you from collecting coins for a moment. At the end of each chapter, your stars will contribute to the overall rating for the attraction, which translate into pins and new clothing items for purchase at the shops. I was constantly unlocking things and barely saw my completion percentage rise. There is just so much to do in the park.
I was most impressed with the voice commands implemented in the game. So many Kinect titles have pacing issues because you have to hover your hand just right in order to proceed. This title flows better than so many others because you can simply speak to it. Once the map is open, a simple process of opening the menu by holding both hands up and saying, “park map,” you can go to any area and attraction, simply by speaking. Want to navigate a shop? Use the voice commands. It works so well that you’ll rarely get hung up trying to move around.
The game is a visual and aural treat for Disney fans. If you’ve ever been to one of the parks, the sense of nostalgia you’ll feel walking around Main Street, through Sleeping Beauty’s castle and hearing the chugging of Big Thunder Mountain will take you back to your last visit. If you’ve never been (or are using this to delay taking the kids for a little while), it’s a great way to plan your visit- as long as the kids understand that they won’t actually be flying with Buzz Lightyear and shooting blasters at giant robots (but it’s really darn cool in the game).
For any family with a Kinect in the house, this game is a no-brainer. The kids can play together with drop-in and drop-out cooperative play, and loved being able to hug their favorite characters, dance with the princesses and fly with Peter Pan. The only downside? Now the kids REALLY want to go to Disneyland.
Review copy of the game provided by publisher.