I had the opportunity to review Disneyland: Kinect Adventures last year, and surprisingly I had a pretty good time. It allowed me (and my kids) to experience Disneyland without having to board a plane and fly down to California and the gameplay aspects were quite good. Not too long ago Microsoft announced Kinect Rush: A Disney-Pixar Adventure was coming to the Xbox 360, a game with Pixar movies as the star attraction. I am a huge Pixar fan as I have all their movies on DVD and Blu-ray. The thought of getting a chance to play a game where some of their greatest movies were brought to life all on one disc had me quite excited, and to say my kids were just as excited was an understatement. Well we got a chance to play the game, and I can finally sit down and share my thoughts with you.
There is no story to speak of in Kinect Rush. You spend your time in Pixar Park where other virtual kids hang out. This park is a hub so to speak, and it is here that you have access to the Pixar movies that you can play in. There are five movies in all, and they are Toy Story, The Incredibles, Ratatouille, Cars, and Up. Although the missions and levels you play in exist in the world of each movie, Kinect Rush does not focus on playing the movie’s story, instead there are all new adventures and missions to experience.
One of the big selling points of Kinect Rush is that you are literally a character in the game, and using the Kinect you can scan yourself into the game. This is where one of my biggest frustrations came from. For the life of me I could not scan my image with the Kinect. You have to stand in a very specific position for the Kinect to scan your body and I tried over a dozen times. I even used the Kinect tuner to tweak things, and I even adjusted the lighting in my room, as there is a “Too Bright/Too Dark” meter on screen during the scanning process. My 7-year-old daughter could not scan her image after multiple tries either; however, my wife did it on her first attempt. This was frustrating for my kids as they wanted to be “in the game”, but they could not. I don’t know if it was a fault of the game, or the Kinect, but it was frustrating to say the least as we got off to a rocky start.
If you are successful at scanning your body, you then become “characterized’ as your scan is represented as a robot (Toy Story), a rat (Ratatouille), a car (Cars), a superhero (The Incredibles) and a Wilderness Explorer (Up). It was neat to see these characters that are based on your scan, including the colour of your clothes. After I was finally able to scan my image I found that I could add glasses to my character, as I wear them in real life. If you end up not scanning your likeness into the game you can choose from wide selection of generic characters to play in the game as.
Navigating Pixar Park, and playing the game as a whole, is simple in theory, as you swing your arms while jogging/running in place. You don’t have to move your legs as the Kinect Sensor picks up your arm movements. Turning your shoulders controls your direction. I found getting around the park was not as natural as it was made out to be. You don’t go in the exact direction you want, and the accuracy is very poor. Watching my daughter navigate, I saw that she had even a tougher time, and as for my son (he is 5); well it was a challenge to say the least. This issue became more frustrating at times, especially for my children, when having to jump or climb in the game, as the whole experience just didn’t seem fine-tuned. In some ways I really wonder how this game would have felt using a controller, but it is meant wholly for the use with the Kinect.
Each mission that you engage in boils down to collecting coins, completing specific objectives, and getting the best score you can at the end. The quicker you complete your objective, and the more coins you collect, the higher your score. You are then ‘graded’ and awarded a bronze, silver, gold or platinum medal. You’ll have to be on your ‘A-game’ in order to reach the top tiered medals, but you’ll be challenged by the control scheme to do so. Completing times quickly while collecting as many coins as possible can be quite a challenge given the inaccuracy of the Kinect in this game.
One thing that my kids and I really enjoyed was the variety of missions offered. From getting a lost ‘stuffy’ back home in Toy Story to running after Mr. Fredicton’s house in Up, there is quite a bit of variety here. You’ll be running, throwing, jumping, and driving in a wide variety of missions. It was pretty neat to be doing so many different things in each story, and control issues aside; you really do feel like you are part of the game, and movie. Pixar was involved in working on this game and it shows. Not only from the level and character design, but to special touches such as adding content that never made it into the movies. From incorporating characters that were cut out Ratatouille and put into the game missions, to expanding on environments from the movies, such as the Tokyo racecourse from Cars 2. These added touches are pretty darn cool.
I have to say that while I found myself quite frustrated at times, watching my kids play this game is what made me realize what it truly is about. Even though they had issues with the control too, the amount of times they laughed while playing or when they looked at the screen in amazement managed to take away from such annoyances. They really enjoyed playing in the movie worlds that they have only watched on their TV or on the big screen before now. Sure, the worlds were virtual, but they got to play as a robot, a car, a rat, a superhero, and a Wilderness Explorer, and that is something they haven’t done before.
Visually I was pretty impressed. There is a lot more detail in the levels than I had imagined. From driving through Radiator Springs and its canyon roads in Cars, to running through the lush jungles and rivers of South America in Up, all the movie’s locales are recreated perfectly. As for your in-game characters, they really do mirror those that are found in the game, so you look like a racing car you’d find in Cars, you look like a toy robot you’d find in Toy Story, and you really do look like a Wilderness Ranger, uniform and all, from Up. There seems to be no detail lost here. Overall the visuals are really pleasing and help pull kids into the game that much more.
As for Kinect Rush’s sound, it manages to continue to convey the Pixar experience. Voice acting sounds spot on with the movie’s characters. I don’t know if they used the original actors, clips from the movies, or voice doubles, but regardless the characters from the game sound like those from the movies. I did note that the sayings could become repetitive at times. Sound effects are pretty good too, from the engines of the cars, the environmental effects of each level (e.g. running water, jungle birds, roof tops of Paris), to the footsteps of those recognizable toys Woody or Buzz; all is present and accounted for. All in all I think the audio helps make this experience what that it is.
When considering the control issues I had when reviewing Kinect Rush: A Disney-Pixar Adventure, I was wholly prepared to give this game a fairly low score, but when putting it in the control of my kids, my view softened somewhat. Sure, the troublesome control was still there, and they were frustrated at times by it, but they were having fun playing in world they only had the opportunity to watch before, and having fun is what it is all about. If you have kids and a Kinect, and they really enjoy Pixar movies, then this game is a definite must, regardless of the control shortcomings noted.