Kinect Disneyland Adventures Impressions -- A Quick Visit to the Happiest Virtual Place on EarthBy Chris Bergoch - Posted Sep 05, 2011
You walk through Main Street toward Sleeping Beauty's Castle…your feet can't carry you fast enough as you race into the forced-perspective toward countless thrills that await from Adventureland to Tomorrowland. Yep, you're right in the middle of the magic at Disneyland...and the best part? You're in the comfort of your own home!
Microsoft Studios and Disney Interactive have teamed up and given all of us the keys to The Kingdom with Kinect Disneyland Adventures. While there have certainly been other attempts at capturing the essence of Disney parks in various games through the years, the demonstration at Disney's D23 Expo in Anaheim has me convinced that this is the real deal.
More an experience than game, the premise is straightforward: "Harnessing the controller-free magic of Kinect for Xbox 360, Kinect Disneyland Adventures allows children, families and Disney fans of all ages to explore Disneyland park, step into adventures based on attractions, engage in challenging quests and interact with beloved Disney characters using their full bodies and voices, no controller required." That all sounds great, but today's gamers will want more than just a virtual version of the Happiest Place on Earth. Judging from what I've seen, I suspect kids of all ages will be very happy indeed.
The demo at Disney's bi-annual Expo had six of the 12 planned attractions up and running: Pirates of the Caribbean, Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, Alice in Wonderland, The Matterhorn, Peter Pan's Flight, and The Jungle Cruise. The attractions here have been re-imagined based on the concept of what would happen if you could get off a ride and the adventures that would ensue as a result.
In Pirates, this translates to a high-speed trip through dark caves while using your right arm to swat incoming danger from undead pirates. On the Matterhorn, you're high atop the Swiss Alps skiing alongside Goofy as numerous Yetis attack. As my constant wipe-outs indicated, there's no way to fail – this is just about fun.
The entire theme park is open to everyone right out of the box, so you can visit your favorite "Land" and attraction with no need to wait until it's been unlocked. If you've been to Disneyland before, you'll instantly be familiar with your surroundings and know exactly where you want to go. Just extend your left arm and point to move about the park, or better yet, use Disney's FastPass to save time! Just raise both hands above your head and you'll fly off to the attraction of your choice. The rides end with a few coins earned for your efforts and a live-action KinectShare photo of yourself in action.
While the FastPass detail is nice, I suspect most Disney aficionados like myself will opt to walk so as to explore the immense detail that's been put into the park's environments. From Disney Imagineer's names on the Main Street windows to the flickering light in Walt Disney's Apartment above the Firehouse, Disneyland's rich history and secrets have been faithfully included, from the actual character voice actors lending their talents right down to the infamous golden spike in the ground of the castle! The gift shops are here as well, giving you a chance to spend those hard-earned coins in the Main Street Emporium, Star Traders or even the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique.
Kinect Disneyland Adventures lead producer Shane White and lead designer Rob Davis said they wanted to do a love letter to Walt Disney with this project, and it really shows. Come November 15, no matter how far you live from California, you'll be able to say, "I'm going to Disneyland!"