Frontier Developments’ Kinectimals was one of the more fully-featured Kinect launch titles, packing great graphics and an ample amount of content into a family-friendly package. However, its multiplayer functionality was so sparse I didn’t even mention it in our Beyond Co-Op review. Thankfully Frontier’s follow-up title, Kinect Disneyland Adventures, features much-expanded co-op play. The game is still aimed at younger players, but the Disneyland setting and characters will hold just as much appeal to older gamers as well.
As the title implies, Kinect Disneyland Adventures is a simulation of the actual California Disneyland theme park. Don’t mistake it for another Universal Studios Theme Parks Adventure – Frontier’s recreation of Disneyland is amazingly authentic. The park is absolutely vast and filled to the brim with the sights and sounds you would experience in the actual theme park. People like me who’ve never been to the real park will love the chance to explore it from the comfort of home.
Speaking of exploration, the actual navigation in KDA (as I’ll now refer to it) is a curious thing. This is a Kinect game, and as such players navigate the park via motion controls instead of a controller. Putting out your left or right arm turns you in that direction, while moving your arms forward (as if you were running or power walking) makes your character walk. It puts you ‘in the game’ more than a physical controller could, but it’s also much less precise. I wish the developers had opted to allow the combined use of a physical controller and Kinect ala Steel Battalion, but perhaps that would dull the game’s mass appeal.
Just walking around a simulated theme park filled with virtual attendees would get old pretty quick without stuff to do. Thankfully KDA has three main ways to keep busy: interacting with Disney characters, hunting down myriad collectibles, and of course, the rides.
First, the characters. One of the joys of visiting a real theme park is posing for photographs with people dressed as popular characters. KDA takes that concept to a whole new level as you’re not just meeting suited characters, but the characters themselves. From classic toons like Mickey and Goofy to newer creations such as Buzz Lightyear and Stitch, you’ll encounter practically every Disney character worth caring about in this game. They look and (in most cases) sound just like the real things. Using naturalistic gestures you can hug, high five, dance, get their autographs, and take pictures with every character. Kids will really love these interactions; my nephew kept wanting to perform each one during our co-op session.
The toons often make requests of you, such as looking for Donald’s lost hat or Belle’s missing books. I don’t normally dig fetch quests, but KDA has such a delightful and endearing atmosphere, and the characters feel so authentic that helping them out doesn’t feel like a chore at all. Similarly, the game is overflowing with collectibles. Hunting them all down will take hours and hours, exposing you to the park’s many nooks and crannies. If you liked that aspect of the Crackdown games, you’ll feel right at home in KDA.