Following the successful “Kinect Disneyland Adventures,” Disney and Microsoft once again offer fans a chance to explore many of Disney’s character-rich worlds in a controller-free video game, this time entering five Pixar films with all-new stories.
“Kinect Rush: A Disney-Pixar Adventure” comes out today for Xbox 360, set in the fictional Pixar Park, where players interact with virtual children for active playtime and make-believe in worlds straight out of five Pixar films: The Incredibles, Cars, Ratatouille, Toy Story, and Up.
Video: Kinect Rush: A Disney-Pixar Adventure gameplay
Pixar Park offers a hub-and-spoke layout, much like the design of Disneyland, but instead of the themed areas of Adventureland and Tomorrowland, Pixar Park features small explorable zones dedicated to each of the included films, each containing a series of new stories.
When first firing up “Kinect Rush,” the game uses the Kinect camera to try to create an avatar that looks like the person playing the game. All avatars are children, no matter how old the player really is. While in theory this is easier than having to choose hair style, height, skin color, etc. manually, the system didn’t exactly work as intended.
After I told it I was male, it did correctly identify that I have long hair (even asking if I want to wear it in a ponytail). But it kept misidentifying my pale skin as a much darker tone, making my character appear to be a race other than my own – an aspect I had no control of. It also inexplicably decided my clothing color should be pink, a color that stuck with me throughout the different worlds I played through. Without manual controls, some players may become frustrated at the inability to accurately and completely customize their avatar. And the look of the avatar is important, as it ties in to each playable Pixar movie.
“Kinect Rush” not the same as traditional movie-based games. Instead of playing through each film’s storyline, entirely new adventures and even some new characters are “made up” on the spot by the children in the game, as if Pixar Park is one big playground.
Controlling “Kinect Rush” requires a lot of movement. Unlike the point-and-go control scheme of “Kinect Disneyland Adventures,” moving in this game is accomplished by players waving their arms forward and back, as if walking or running. It’s an activity that gets tiring quickly. Side-to-side movement is trigged by rotating the player’s shoulders, an often-clunky way of moving. Other movements frequently used in each of the games include jumping, grabbing items by players holding their arms straight out, and subsequently throwing those items. The extremely active, full-body controls translate better in some of the Pixar adventures than others.
I played the first level of each of the five included Pixar films and found “The Incredibles” to be by far my favorite. In each of the worlds, players’ semi-customized avatars are morphed into characters that fit that world, so for “The Incredibles,” my long-haired child became a long-haired muscular superhero, which was entirely amusing. I imagine kids will get a big kick out of seeing a version of themselves as an Incredible.
“Kinect Rush” levels always pair up players with the virtual child who’s making up the story, so it’s a constant game of follow-the-leader. For the first level in “The Incredibles,” that child becomes Violet and the adventure that ensues involves running, jumping, throwing, zip lining, climbing, sliding, and flying, all controlled by wild body movements that interact perfectly and accurately with what’s on screen. The fast-paced level makes players feel as if they were performing superhuman acts – and left me somewhat out of breath afterward.
“Toy Story” begins with players suiting up as a robot toy, helping Woody and “Toy Story 3” favorite Mr. Pricklepants catch up with Bonnie before she leaves without them. Though the new robot toy character isn’t as interesting as becoming a superhero, it is fun to follow the familiar “Toy Story” pair through the Sunnyside Daycare playground and ultimately hopping into an RC car, driving through muddy streets.
Speaking of driving, the “Cars” world offers plenty of that, though I awkwardly became a pink car as a result of the previously-inexplicable color choice when designing my avatar. Color aside, despite the fact that players are only pretending to hold a steering wheel while controlling their car-selves, the invisible wheel is a surprisingly accurate controller. The world of “Cars” turns into a fun driving game, racing through Radiator Springs behind Mater, who is still in the spy game from “Cars 2.”
The first levels of “Up” and “Ratatouille” proved to be far less fun than the other three. “Up” places players on a river adventure chasing Carl’s runaway balloon-lifted house alongside Russell, each paddling canoes. The air-paddling gets old fast, having to wave players’ arms and hands repeatedly left and right just to get anywhere.
Two characters named Celine and Twitch were left on the cutting room floor of of the film “Ratatouille” but are now brought to the screen in “Kinect Rush.” In the first level from this film, players control Twitch through a kitchen-top adventure in Paris that features the most frustrating controls of all, requiring too many intricate and careful movements while navigating through tight spaces. In wide open areas, the Kinect system does very well, guiding players through levels. But in close quarters, turning left and right and trying to subtly flap your arms proves to be quite difficult.
Beyond these first levels, each of the five Pixar film-based areas included in “Kinect Rush” features more adventure to unlock, with a different virtual kid “making up” the story for each one. It’s a unique premise that allows the game to explore more than just the movie’s set storyline while still remaining true to the spirit of the films.
“Kinect Rush: A Disney-Pixar Adventure” is ultimately a mixed bag of fun and frustration. When the controls work, the adventures presented offer plenty of fun inside classic Disney/Pixar movies, placing players alongside familiar characters in extremely active and immersive roles. Unfortunately, levels that are based in small areas and require intricate and delicate touches don’t translate well to the Kinect controls, ultimately making me throw my hands in the air after giving up. And no matter the level, players should be prepared to move a lot. This game requires full-body participation for each and every adventure and will definitely get players up off the couch.
“Kinect Rush: A Disney-Pixar Adventure” hits store shelves today and is available for order on Amazon.
A free downloadable demo of the game is also available via the Xbox Live Marketplace.