Microsoft, with the aid of Frontier Developments (the folks responsible for Kinectimals and Rollercoaster Tycoon 3) have drafted in the House of Mouse to show us what the Kinect is capable of. Come with me as Kinect Disneyland Adventures takes us on a virtual trip to the Happiest Place of Earth™!
I can’t think of any outfit more suited to bringing Disneyland to life than British developers, Frontier Developments. Their 2004 Rollercoaster Tycoon 3 is still considered the definitive theme park construction and management game. More recently, with Kinectimals, Frontier embraced Microsoft's motion-control technology bringing virtual animals to life and, using the Xbox Kinect, made them a fully interactive experience for children. Frontier Developments’ latest game mixes their obvious love of theme parks with their experience with the Kinect.
Kinect Disneyland Adventures provides a meticulous recreation of The Magic Kingdom, the main attraction and hub of every Disneyland resort around the world. Each real-world Magic Kingdom is subtly different to the rest, and so is the one brought to life in Kinect Disneyland Adventures. The game seems to take the best elements of each park (especially, I think, the one at Disneyland Paris). Just like its real counterparts, the park is made up off many different themed lands all radiating out from the castle at the centre. Whilst the level of detail is commendable, the game really highlights just how many retail shops and restaurants the parks are filled with, all authentically recreated for your virtual enjoyment.
Unsurprisingly, Kinect Disneyland Adventures is totally Kinect controlled. Players, as guests in Disney’s virtual Magic Kingdom, navigate the park by making hand gestures. As is usually the case with Kinect titles, it takes some getting used to and you never really feel 100% in control. There where times when I wished that I could just pick up a controller and use it to simply wander around the park taking it all in, rather than fight with the Kinect.
The game can be played by one or two players using a very effective drop-in/drop-out co-op system. This also (conveniently) allows adults to continue long after the little ones have gone to bed. It’s worth noting that the usually temperamental Kinect sensor happily picked up an adult and a two-year-old player, a size difference that some other Kinects offerings can have trouble with.
Audio cues abound as very familiar ditties sound out from the park’s virtual speakers, be it the drunken sailor from Pirates of the Caribbean or the nauseating, and punishingly catchy, theme from It’s A Small World.
Throughout the park familiar Disney characters are available for autographs and hugs. Some of them also have tasks that they need help with. Obliging players will be rewarded with coins and the opportunity to level up, almost making Kinect Disneyland Adventures into a tween role-playing game type of affair.
Coins are also scattered around the park, which can be spent at many of the in-game retail shops. If only this was how it worked in the real parks, I’d have saved a fortune. As well as the shops, the park also features Kinect-enabled mini-game versions of the real-world park’s attractions.
The attractions are guaranteed to put a smile on children’s faces. But, no matter what the age of your inner child is, I can’t see adults really getting overly excited by the game’s content. As whimsical as they are, the attraction mini-games are a little basic and hard to fail at.
Kids are going to love Kinect Disneyland Adventures; the game features all their favourite characters in an incredibly accurate recreation of a Disney park, complete with the world-famous attractions. The cynic in me could very easily say that the game is no more than an interactive advert for Disneyland. I can see little kiddies and their parents alike being ‘inspired’ to travel to one of the real parks having experienced this virtual version. The Kinect controllers are as unrefined as ever, but the game doesn’t need much in the way of accuracy. For me it was one of the rare Kinect titles that I could enjoy with my two-year old lad. Seeing him reach out to instigate a virtual hug with Mickey Mouse and then watching his joyful expression was enough to convince me that this is a game worth having.
Lasting appeal: 7.5