In the last six months, a whopping three games that combine multiple Disney properties have come to consoles: Disney Universe, Kinect Disneyland Adventures (hereafter called KDA), and now Kinect Rush: A Disney-Pixar Adventure (the latter two obviously being Xbox 360 exclusives). Somehow I’ve ended up reviewing all of them – I guess having a young kid skews one’s interests a bit. Kinect Rush stands out as the first all-Pixar game, celebrating several of the Disney CG studio’s most popular films (while omitting a few). Developer Asobo Studio, producer of the excellent Toy Story 3 along with Up, Ratatouille, and Wall-E videogame adaptations certainly has the Pixar know-how that such a project requires.
In the awkwardly-named Kinect Rush (seriously, nobody could think of a better title?), players take on the role of kids attending a Pixar-themed summer camp. The camp features levels based around five Pixar properties: Toy Story, Rattata, I mean, Ratatouille, Up, The Incredibles, and Cars.
Before you get to camp, you’ll need to create a character. The Kinect scans your body and uses it to produce a Pixar-looking child avatar. Mine didn't resemble me too greatly outside of color choices, but it’s a nice idea. The character creator absolutely couldn’t scan my daughter correctly no matter how still she stood (presumably due to her small height), but you can always select from a few pre-made characters if necessary. Every time you select your character (custom or preset), the game runs through a montage of how the character will look in the different minigames: a superhero, car, rat, scout, and toy robot. The montage should really be skippable since it lasts for several seconds and never changes.
After selecting your character and save file, the game asks if anyone else would like to play. Unfortunately, the process for signing in a second player is the worst I’ve seen in a Kinect title. It asks the second person to step into the playing field, but in my experience the game doesn’t usually want to recognize player two while player one is still around – not that it says anything about the first player stepping away. Once player two has created a character and player one comes back, it’s then a short struggle to get the first player recognized and in control again. Frustrating players right off the bat isn’t usually the best way to start a game, but things do get better.
Kinect Rush’s hub world resembles a large park, with five playground-ish areas devoted to specific Pixar films. It’s populated by non-interactive kids who all look the same (other than hairstyles and skin and clothing colors). You can walk up to each movie’s area and initiate the corresponding minigames, but that’s it. Since the hub world doesn’t serve any purpose besides establishing atmosphere, the time-saving option to select each game from a menu (as KDA offered) would have been nice.
"That porcupine's stealing our luggage!"
I mentioned that each movie has its own minigames, but levels would be a more accurate term. See, both the hub world and all of the movie levels (other than Cars) use the same method of navigation. Making a running motion with your arms moves forward and turning your shoulders turns the character. I like that it’s consistent between levels, but this is the third movement scheme I’ve had to learn in a non-linear Kinect game – KDA and Haunt use totally different systems. There’s something to be said for consistency in control methods instead of reinventing the wheel all the time. The fact that you have to move your arms constantly to propel the character forward can be tiring – I much prefer simply holding my arms up a bit as with the previous Disney game. Turning is also kind of slow, 180 degree turns proving most inconvenient. I did get used to all of this after a few games, but the learning curve can be off-putting.