Disneyland Adventures is the latest Kinect title for Microsoft’s Xbox 360 accessory aimed squarely at the kids, but can get you to fall in love with the magical kingdom all over again?
We doubt there are many kids who don't love the magic of Disney, and while it no doubt drives many parents mad with its merchandising. We have to ask, is this game more Toy Story, or Cars 2. We got the kids out to help us review the game.
Meeting new friends
Core to the game is the ability to walk around the Disneyland park in Anaheim and all it has to offer. Aside from a good smattering of other visitors who are just there to get in your way, you’ll find a perfect replica of the Californian park; complete with rides, and more importantly the Disney characters - there are 40 of them.
When you aren’t going on the rides you can chase down your favourites, wave hello, dance with them, get their autograph and give them hugs. It's rather charming, and younger children will love it.
Without a storyline - you don’t have to save Cinderella for example - it is here you get the interaction element to Disneyland Adventures rather than it just being a series of mini-games.
From the start Mickey has you on errands that he is too lazy to do himself. While they soon get boring for us older folk, you just know that to the target audience, your 7 year old, the thought that they are really helping Mickey is the best honour in the known universe.
This being a Kinect game, walking around the park isn’t a mere button press or moving a joystick. Thankfully it isn’t all on rails either. Instead you have to hold your arm out in front of you to run forward. Other controls include waving to talk to characters, giving the hug gesture to do just that, or holding your hand up high to access your inventory, be it a camera or magic wand.
Once you tire of the walking; there really is only so much you can take from the eternally happy Mickey, you can go off in search of the rides. To distract you along the way is the chance to collect coins. These coins can then be spent in any of the eight shops to buy more autograph books, clothes and other virtual memorabilia.
Cutting out the time wasting
If the walking around the park is the exploring element to the game, the 20 rides are the fun bit.
As with the real Disneyland, the rides are dotted around the map in areas like Tomorrowland and Frontierland, and you can either walk to them or as we found, simply talk to the game and tell them what you want to do next, thanks to voice support from Kinect.
Get to the ride of your choice and you are transported to a parallel universe where you get to do the ride, but in the characters actual environment. That makes it a lot more fun, a lot more engaging, and certainly better than a beaten-up, paint chipped ride and the 45-year-old man next to you screaming with joy.
The games themselves vary widely, although all are great fun. Big Thunder Mountain Railroad involves you riding an out-of-control mine cart through a mineshaft and is similar in gameplay to some of the levels on Kinect Adventure.
The Finding Nemo levels see you swimming up and down underwater with Nemo and Squirt the turtle. Winnie the Pooh’s levels are based in the 100 Acre Wood. And the Princess level is all about dancing with your favourite Disney Princess.
It is not just fun for one
Yep there is multiplayer as well, with the chance for anyone to jump in and play at the same time co-op style. There are no battle modes, this is family fun remember.
That means that if you’ve got two kids they can play together rather than having to sit there all glum faced. And what’s really nice, is that while the games have challenges there is never a real sense that you need to complete them to progress. You don’t collect all the coins, so be it.
Developed by the same guys behind Kinectimals, Disneyland Adventures really leverages the characters and worlds from the Disney universe. This isn’t just a chance to go to Disneyland without the cost of expensive flights.
If you’ve got young kids and they love Disney, then this is clearly the game you need to be buying to side-step the conversation with your other half as to why you’ve just spent this month's slush-fund on COD:MW3, Need For Speed Run, and Skyrim.
The Kinect controls are easy and responsive, the graphics charming and the mini games compelling enough to make you come back for more, time and time again.
We have to admit, we even found ourselves taking a breath on the rollercoaster. Just don’t tell our kids.