Disneyland Adventures is build around an explorable Disney theme park that can be navigated freely by moving your body and arms in front of the Kinect controller. In and around the park are 35 Disney characters to meet and greet. These encounters are initiated by a wave and go on to include high-fives, hugs and autograph moments each with a related simple gesture.
The park itself can also be brought to life in a variety of ways. Early on you are given a magician’s wand that lets you endow different objects with Fantasia-like properties resulting in equally disruptive and entertaining results. Being allowed to cause havoc in public seems to be one of the biggest successes of the game in my household.
The open world is punctuated by a series of 18 attraction themed adventures. Each of these takes the player on a more directed journey. Peter Pan’s Flight, for example, places them alongside Tinker Bell as they fly around the streets of London. Control remains simple and direct: arms stretched out, ducking, diving and swaying to avoid buildings and collect coins.
It’s these sections that warrant the PEGI 7+ rating as they sometimes include swords fights and firearms. However, with most of the referenced Disney films being rated U, I was happy to let my slightly younger children play once I had checked things out ahead of time.
Ironically it is the more mature attraction adventure segments that, although are higher impact, work best with smaller players compared to the theme park exploration which sometimes struggled to understand my 4 yrs son’s gestures.
Other favourite attractions with my children (4, 6 and 8) have been the Indiana Jones aping Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, the row-boating of Pirates of the Caribbean and downhill thrills of Matterhorn Bobsleds. My daughter was particularly taken with the Disney Princess Fantasy Faire, where she could dance with princess characters that we had unlocked by completing their related missions.
Players are constantly drawn back to the central theme park by the chance to meet new characters and discover new attractions. It‘s being able to explore such a detailed open-world that separates Disneyland Adventures from the rest of the Kinect line-up.
This is rounded off by a solid drop-in co-op where two children can play both the park exploration and attraction elements of the game. As is common in Kinect games, some sensible compromises are made here. One player always takes the lead to avoid too much navigational confusion, and in the on rails sections both players contribute to a communal score.
With so much enjoyment on the surface, it’s easy to miss some of the more minor triumphs. For my family the voice controls are one such feature, particularly when our youngest is playing. Previously, when Kinect was struggling to see him we’d have to step in front of the camera to try and get him started – which usually just confused the controller even more. With voice controls we can stay out of shot and simply say particular menu items to select them. This means not only that tired parents like us can stay slouched on the sofa, but also the child remains in control of the game rather than relying on outside assistance.
This attention to detail and the recreation of a genuine park experience makes any shortcomings forgivable.
Although I would have preferred some more competitive elements in the co-operative play (separate scores for instance), the magical feel of the Attraction sections means that it feels like pure grumpiness to complain for long. Even the lack of support for standard 360 Avatars in favour of a more Disney-fied onscreen persona is forgivable when you see how well your characters fit into the various animated scenes.
In the crowded Christmas period Disneyland Adventures may be easy to overlook, but to do this is to miss a treat. For families who have a Kinect already and want a reason to get it out again, or if you are looking for a reason to buy one, this is it.