decker12's Kinect Disneyland Adventures (Xbox 360) review

Decent minigames with none of the crowds!

Disneyland Adventures (DLA) is a great Kinect game aimed at the under 8 year old crowd. It’s a pretty good reproduction of California’s Disneyland (not Florida’s DisneyWorld). Little extra touches abound such as the posters in the front entrance and the in-park music that changes as you walk around.

Navigating the park is done by holding out your arm in a salute-like fashion, and then rotating it to turn around. It works pretty well. Only the player “in front” can steer the experience, so if you have a companion playing they just tag along behind you. This is nice because in a 2 player situation, the adult can usually steer the child around the environment and towards the attractions.

Annoyingly, you can’t seem to choose the gender of your on-screen avatar, and it doesn’t use the built in Xbox avatar system. It seems to randomly generate a boy or a girl for each player, and re-generates the avatar every time a player enters or leaves the game. It did aggravate my daughter that every time she walked out of frame she had to wave frantically at the Kinect again and be re-assigned an avatar that looked different.

You can interact with the various characters that stand around the park. Most of them have fetch type quests for you, and you enter the minigames to collect coins to purchase items to complete these quests. You wave at the characters when you’re within range of them, and from there you can dance with them, high-five, hug them, things of that nature. It was pretty cool seeing my daughter’s face light up when she bowed to Alice and the character bowed back, or how put off Captain Hook acted when my daughter asked him for a hug.

Speech recognition is pretty good. You can simply say “Park Map” or “Alice in Wonderland” or even “Quit game” and the game will do it for you. I was pretty impressed with the ease of the speech system.

There are 8 or so different minigames in the park, many of them broken into several “chapters”. The Alice in Wonderland minigame starts with avoiding furniture as you fall down a rabbit hole, then turns into the croquet match where you roll around a pathway avoiding obstacles. Finally, you dance around to fill a meter and then strike a particular pose in the Mad Hatter segment. All the while, your actions award you with coins that you spend in the park on outfits or autograph books.

Many of the games fall into these same categories: moving around to dodge (or collect) items as you careen down a predetermined pathway, dancing, and mimicking onscreen actions, Simon Says style. The activity level involves a lot of leaning and jumping.

In addition, you can ride several other rides non-interactively, like the merry go round and Dumbo Fliers. You simply activate the ride and it places the camera in the appropriate place, giving you the illusion you’re riding it from a fixed viewpoint (even though you can’t do anything but exit the ride). It’s actually a nice touch – it reinforces the illusion that the game is a simulation of the park and not just a series of minigames.

If you don’t want to wander around the park towards the attractions, you can use the Fast Pass feature from the main menu to skip directly to the minigames. Sadly you still have to wander around the park once to find the attractions – you can’t just jump into all of them directly from the main menu until you unlock them by wandering the park.

Graphics are pretty decent – they’re mostly cell shaded once you get into the minigames. Kinect detection is also pretty good, but I needed quite a bit of extra light in my space to maximize the experience.

Some of the minigames are clunkers and some, we never figured out what we’re supposed to be doing, so we just kind of waved around frantically until it was over. Fortunately each minigame location has a few chapters associated with it, so if you love Peter Pan but can’t stand the 2 chapter of his minigame, you still have a couple other chapters to experience the character with.

The game is definitely geared more towards little girls than boys. Many of the minigames involve dancing, posing, and collecting things instead of the frantic activity you’d fine in a game like Kinect Sports. It’s not a “party game” and only the most Disney obsessed adults will be entertained for long.

It’s all non competitive and “failing” a chapter only means you didn’t get as many coins or stars as you could have. All minigames are over after a period of time regardless of how well the performance was. The activities are done well enough but some of the minigames do have a tendency to play themselves (which in practice is actually a pretty good thing for younger kids).

It’s a little too advanced for the under 6 crowd to navigate on their own, but that works out well for me as it’s great father-daughter time.

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