To this day, many people consider Disneyland to be the most magical place on Earth. Kids dream of going there just once while others enjoy going there at least once a year despite the climbing ticket prices. For various reasons, though, plenty of families can't just hop in a car and pay a visit to Walt Disney's original theme park, and it's those people for which Kinect Disneyland Adventures is intended. We got some hands-on time with a demo at this year's E3 and came away intrigued.
One of the first things we noticed was that you're restricted to using the game's avatars instead of your own Xbox Avatars. They wanted an art style that matched that of the various Disney styles, and while the system's avatars look fine, they don't cut it here. We were told that the possibilities of earning Xbox Avatar awards were high with the game, though, so at least you'll get something from the experience.
You start out your game at the main Disneyland park, which acts as the hub for every ride in the game. Because the allure of the park isn't just with the attractions, you're given plenty to do before setting foot in any formal games. There are plenty of Mickey-shaped coins to collect, and there's a whole host of Disney characters roaming around the park. Just like in real life, you may easily find characters like Goofy and Captain Hook, but Mickey and Minnie Mouse are rare finds. Once you find any of the characters, you can interact with them in a variety of ways. You can take photos with them, which can then be posted online, and you can also give them big hugs or ask them for autographs. You can also get them to say different things depending on the outfits you wear. For example, Captain Hook may compliment you if you're wearing a pirate outfit or berate you if you look like one of Peter Pan's lost boys. If you ever tire of interacting with all of the personalities, though, you can use your magic wand to interact with the park's 40+ interactive objects. You can also start trading pins just like real-life park-goers.
The game lets you freely navigate the park without the need for a controller. Emulating what most kids do with their parents, you simply point in the direction you want to move, and the game directs you there. It's a rather simple mechanic that worked flawlessly enough during our time with the demo. Don't be surprised if this becomes a preferred method for Kinect games that want to give you basic movement controls.
There are at least 12 different attractions featured in the park, and we checked out two during the demo. The first part of the Peter Pan's Neverland ride allowed two people to fly through the London cityscape at night while making their way to Neverland. While the path is predetermined, players could glide around wherever they wanted to collect coins along the way. Aside from the drop-in/drop-out co-op play, we noticed that no matter how much one is hit, there isn't a "game over" screen; it was a conscious decision on the developer's part to negate the frustration kids may initially feel with the level. We also tried out Big Thunder Mountain, where both players use a pump cart to go through the ride. Players can change out track directions, so you may want to play through it multiple times due to the number of paths that can be discovered.
As a game designed for kids, Kinect Disneyland Adventures is well done. There's some excellent detail to the park — this caught park officials off guard when they toured the game — and the rides still contain the little touches you expect, like the dinosaur bones in Big Thunder Mountain and the yeti in the Matterhorn. It may be an easy experience, but the allure of Disneyland and the various things you can do should please the target audience. Look for more on the game as we approach the fall release.
More articles about Kinect: Disneyland Adventures