When people look at the Disney name, they expect something that provides wholesome, fun experiences for the entire family. By extension, the same can be said for the Pixar name. Microsoft's Kinect for the Xbox 360 is seen as a family-friendly way for kids and parents to enjoy games that require more motion. Common sense would dictate that having them all together on a Kinect game would generate an exciting family-friendly game. Now that we have Kinect Rush: A Disney/Pixar Adventure, we see that the game is a solid endeavor that's too short.
Similar to Kinect Disneyland Adventures, you create your character, though it's not done solely via menu selection. Instead, the game scans your body and face to create a human avatar crafted in Pixar style. The scanning is rather nice and even translates the colors of your clothes into your character rather well, but the big appeal is from the fact that your avatar is transformed into a more personalized character from the worlds of "Cars," "The Incredibles," "Ratatouille," "Toy Story" and "Up!". The personalization really comes through in "The Incredibles" and "Up!"; the three other movie worlds simply have a character of their own design with your colors pasted on (a Lightning McQueen knock-off for "Cars," a rat with a different-colored scarf in "Ratatouille," and a robot for "Toy Story"). Seeing it for the first time does inspire a bit of awe.
Once you finish creating your character, you're shuttled off to Pixar Park to explore your surroundings and meet up with other kids. The park is rather small, and it acts more as a hub world for the five Pixar-themed areas than anything else. Your interaction with the other kids is also limited to the themed lands, so while they may talk to you and wave, the most you can do is bump into them to move them out of the way.
When you reach any one of the themed areas, one of the kids will ask you to join them in a story that happens to take place in that movie world. They'll often play one of the main characters from the film while you are a random character who helps carry out their story. Once their part is complete, you're given a score based on your performance, and those points count toward unlocking more levels and items, like new powers and the ability to change your character to one from the movie world.
At first glance, it seem like you're participating in minigames and races centered on the characters and universes of the five specified films. Just about every level has you running forward to reach an arbitrary end point. However, there's much more to each level than simply running or sliding forward. Depending on the level, you can do things such as balancing on balls, freefalling down tubes, going down zip lines, jumping between platforms, and throwing items at larger foes. Some levels even have small sections that you can freely explore to find hidden pockets of bonus coins or alternate pathways that are unlocked once you get a new power or find a new partner character. It doesn't have as many activities as the other Disney Kinect game, but the levels have a good amount of variety.
As an aside, the game features co-op that's in the popular drop-in/drop-out style. It works seamlessly at any point in the game — a boon for an audience that's more likely to want immediate satisfaction as opposed to patiently waiting for menu configuration and load screens.
Considering the game's intended audience, it's good to see that the developers made every effort to encourage younger kids to keep playing. You have an infinite amount of lives to burn through, but the game tries to lessen the chance of losing any. Sliding areas are wide, and it takes a bit of work to get your character to run into a bottomless pit. Even if you manage to make it there, you'll immediately restart in a safe position so you won't run into the same hazard again. Even if this still doesn't deter you from running into pit after pit after pit, an option pops up to ask if you want to skip the area and just move on to the next section. Aside from pits, getting hit by obstacles like electric barriers or enemy attacks only takes away a few points, knocking you down in the process. With no "game over" scenario to worry about and a guarantee that you'll finish a level, younger players won't experience much frustration here.
If there's one big knock against the game, it would be in its brevity. Fifteen levels might sound like a good amount, but you can play through it all in less than two hours. That amount is extended once you start replaying levels to unlock special powers and partner characters, but the amount of time spent grinding to unlock those alternate paths doesn't make the payoff worth it, especially when those alternate paths don't change the game very much. Unless you love the activities, don't expect to play the game for long stretches of time after you've completed it the first time.
The controls work very well most of the time. Navigation is done by moving your arms back and forth as if you're running in place while directional changes are done with shoulder movements in either direction. They're certainly more natural than the pointing commands used for Kinect Disneyland Adventures but work just as well, proving that some developers have finally gotten the hang of the peripheral. The motions for controlling some of the other actions like using zip lines and throwing objects works fine, and even things like doing hand pushes for slides gets read clearly. There are a few occasions where you won't be able to walk down a path in a straight line, and sometimes jumping isn't read correctly the first time you perform it, but oddly enough, it only seems to be problematic for older people, as the game seems to read kids' actions almost instantly.
The aim was for the graphics to match the style of the various Pixar films as closely as possible, and the goal has been met. The character models for the kids animate well and fit nicely with the general Pixar look, and the same can be said for the models used for each of the five movie worlds. Those animations shine even more because of the attention to detail, such as seeing Andy's name written on Buzz Lightyear's left boot and the various badges on Russel's sash. The environments also sport that same care and colors that make it look like they were lifted from the film, and their areas in the park really look like miniature versions of the film sets. All in all, this title is a looker.
Unlike the graphics, the sound is more hit-and-miss. The music does a great job of emulating the score from each film. "The Incredibles" has pieces that fit the superhero mold well while the score for "Ratatouille" comes off as more sophisticated. The voice work is great, as most of the original actors from the films reprise their roles for this game while the stand-ins do a fairly good job of mimicking the original performances in both inflection and delivery. The only issue is in line repetition, as you'll hear everyone say the same lines within a short period of time, and in some cases, you'll get caught in a bug where they repeat parts of those phrases multiple times. If you can ignore that, then you'll be fine with the audio.
Your enjoyment of Kinect Rush: A Disney/Pixar Adventure will be dependent on how much you like the activities. On one hand, each level features a myriad of activities, and even though they all feature constant forward movement, they're varied enough that you'll rarely do long stretches of the same activity. On the other hand, the levels are fairly short, and the chances that you'll want to replay them so soon after finishing the title can be pretty slim. If you have young kids who are huge fans of the Pixar movies, the repetitive nature isn't a big deal and they'll have a blast with the game. Otherwise, it's a good rental for older Pixar fans.
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