Kinect Disneyland Adventures Updated Hands-On Preview -- To Main Street and Beyond!By Chris Bergoch - Posted Oct 20, 2011
If you're like me, you want to be at Disneyland every day. Of course, unless you're a "Cast Member" (Disney parlance for 'employee'), pesky everyday life prevents you from your daily dose of "The Magic." That is, until now. Even if you're a moderate fan of Disney Theme Parks, you've no doubt heard a little something about Microsoft's Kinect Disneyland Adventures, and, odds are, you can't wait to see what it's all about.
Some of you may be eagerly awaiting the first fully-realized virtual build of Walt Disney's first theme park ever, the one that started it all, Disneyland. Others might be curious how the 20--yes, 20--iconic attractions will harness the controller-free and voice-activated coolness of Kinect for Xbox 360. And a few others may just want to experience Disneyland without ever leaving the sofa. Whichever category you fit into, you're here reading this, and so you too are most likely counting down the days 'til the November 15 release (32! Woo Hoo!).
I got my first hands-on impression of Kinect Disneyland Adventures back in August at Disneyland's D23 Expo. Wait, that's not entirely correct. I should rephrase. I had my first visit to this magical theme park at Disneyland's D23 Expo. That's really what this is--more a virtual visit than intricate game--and I think the overall enjoyment of this release will be based on exactly which side of those two perceptions you're on. Those expecting a Space Mountain-inspired equivalent of Dead Space 2, or Gears of War 3 inside The Haunted Mansion will be missing the point here.
The wizards at Microsoft Studios and Frontier Developments have rivaled the Disney Imagineers in giving us a fully realized virtual recreation of Disneyland Park 2011, from the tiniest of details (the flickering light eternally lit in Walt's Firehouse Apartment) to hidden gems (the castle's infamous golden spike) to exact replications of the exteriors of those classic Mountains (Space, Splash, Matterhorn and Big Thunder), all for less than an actual one-day admission ticket at that!
So which attractions are actually included? In addition to the previously announced Pirates of the Caribbean, Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, Alice in Wonderland, Matterhorn Bobsleds, Peter Pan's Flight Jungle Cruise and Enchanted Tiki Room, Kinect Disneyland Adventures also includes Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters, Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage, The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh, “it’s a small world," The Haunted Mansion, Space Mountain, Splash Mountain, and even The Princess Fantasy Faire, Pixie Hollow, Disneyland Parade, and Fireworks Spectacular.
I was also impressed that many attractions that are unplayable in the game are still exactly where they should be in within the geography of the park, such as the exterior for Captain EO (accurately represented right down to the new "Captain EO Tribute" sign that was put up when the classic 3D film returned in 2010).
Personally, I could spend hours roaming from Tomorrowland to Critter Country admiring the scenery around the park before venturing inside of the attractions presented here. The attention to detail is clear to even a modest Disneyland Guest. But look closer. See the famous "Partners" statue of Mickey and Walt? Wave to it. Talk to Cast Members. Hug Stitch. Collect Autographs. Walk past Space Mountain and hear the strains of Michael Giacchino's score blasting from within. And speaking of, Space Mountain has always been on the top of everyone's attraction list, and I'm no exception! Naturally, in my second chance to enter this park, it was my first destination.
Space Mountain is a great example where the magic of Kinect Disneyland Adventures shines. Upon entry (no lines!) you are whisked into one of the game's adventure experiences where the designers have taken creative liberties that not only respect the foundations of the classic rides but also are also pretty darn fun! From flying through space in Tron-inspired suits while avoiding asteroids to rowing yourself down the rivers of the Briar Patch, there's no real way to fail here; it's just about fun, but with enough challenges and puzzles for all ages to enjoy--just like the actual park itself.
That's what's most exciting about Kinect Disneyland Adventures, I can get a dose of that patented Disney Magic whenever I need it. Now if only I could have one of those Mickey-shaped ice cream bars at home!