Kinect Disneyland Adventures Xbox 360 Review

On display at both the E3 Expo in Los Angeles and the D23 Expo in Anaheim this year, Kinect: Disneyland Adventures promised a lot of fun.  It’s not quite a vacation replacement ala the initial premise of Disney Universe but, is a fun follow up.  Imagine watching a great movie and then getting everything fleshed out by following it up with the book.  Speaking of movies, the art style fits the typical At the very least, Kinect: Disneyland Adventures is one of the most entertaining titles available for the Kinect, so far.

Kinect: Disneyland Adventures starts off with the first Disney character you will meet, Mickey Mouse welcoming you to Disneyland.  The game allows two people to simultaneously experience the park.  Mickey will get you started by having you run errands and find some of the other characters throughout Disneyland.  Meeting the characters offers players a chance to interact in much the same way it works in actuality, minus the lines of course.  They will sign autographs, hug and dance with you and unlike reality, the fully voiced characters actually talk to you.

The real fun however, is in the rides.  Microsoft worked closely with the folks at Disney to create stories for each of the 18 attractions.  Some of these stories are what you would expect and others required some research on the part of the developers.  The Matterhorn while iconic doesn’t have a Disney movie to go with it and required a bit of digging to find an appropriate tie-in.  With nearly a hundred years of Disney archives it was no small feat thankfully, there is no shortage of content either.

Attractions like Pirates of the Caribbean, start with a fairly faithful representation of the ride but evolves quickly, and soon enough, you’ll find yourself repelling undead pirates.  This formula is somewhat typical.  The Matterhorn begins with bobsledding but turns into a snowball fight with yetis.  While these may be expected evolutions, there are some more unusual twists.  It’s a Small World goes toward a more kid friendly Dance Central type exercise.

The typical method of moving about the Disneyland Park is by pointing and it works surprisingly well.  In my prerelease hands-on time with the game, it was contextually explained as how eager kids, while trying to pull out of your grip, indicate where they want to go.  The explanation is really unnecessary, as this type of control is just intuitive and works.  Future Kinect enabled games should really use Disneyland Adventures as a template for Action/Adventure fare.  A quick travel type map is also accessible by raising both arms.

Kinect: Disneyland Adventures is clearly marketed at children but there is no reason core games could not be developed using similar controls.  It’s not entirely perfect but I did play test the game with an eight and five year old and they were able to navigate the park with very little trouble.  As I played, I had very little trouble even navigating the spiraled paths in New Orleans Square.  Something like Zelda or Darksiders would be able to use almost identical controls.  Even RPGs could benefit from the more immersive controls.

There is always the laziness argument, but as an option, the Kinect could add much to the overall experience.  Kinect: Disneyland Adventures offers a glimpse at the potential of motion-sense gaming.  The subject matter might not be for everyone and its purple case may look a little out of place between Halo: Reach and Gears of War, but buy it for your kids, nieces and/or nephews and give it a shot.  There’s a little bit of everything in the game and a little something for everyone.

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