These days video games are all about blasting aliens and saving Earth (yet again) from destruction. Kinect: Disneyland Adventures is taking a gentler approach to our favorite pastime, providing a series of minigames modeled after the theme park's attractions. The game's park is a close re-creation of an actual Disneyland amusement park, specifically the one in Anaheim, California. But why not Disney World? The developers said they wanted to start at the beginning, and since Disneyland has seniority, it ultimately won out. Nevertheless, we got the chance to go hands-on with the happiest place on earth during this year's E3.
From the Disneyland hub world, we could explore the park and chose which attractions we wanted to experience. Navigating the park is based on research the developers conducted on how children navigate through a Disneyland theme park. The developers found that many kids would latch one hand onto their parents' pant leg and use the other to point out where they wanted to go next. With this in mind, moving through the park was done by pointing in the direction we wanted to go, and our avatar did the rest.
Within the park there were more than 40 iconic characters to mingle with, including Cinderella, Mickey Mouse, and Peter Pan. Each one had its own set of interactions for us to experience as well, including the required hug and signing of the autograph. After high-fiving Mickey and posing for a photo with Snow White, we turned our attention to the attractions. Each attraction was broken down into challenges. For instance, you might have to go find Peter Pan's shadow or recover Winnie the Pooh's lost honey pot (as if that bear needs more honey). The prizes for completing the objectives are a little more substantial than just getting more coins. Instead, you might get to conduct a fireworks show or take part in a parade.
We hopped on Big Thunder Mountain, one of the four famous mountains in Disneyland. The challenge selected had us powering a pump trolley by (wait for it) pumping our arms up and down in the air. As the cart picked up speed, we promptly neglected our pumping duties to stick our arms out and snatch up passing coins. Luckily, a second player slipped in to lend us a hand. After some initial confusion, we learned the rhythm of our partner's pumping and got that little cart rolling. At times we had to work together to flip switches and prevent the cart from taking a wrong turn, as well as outrun a speeding train.
Another challenge we saw, but didn't play, was the Mad Hatter's tea party from Alice in Wonderland. Here the player had to dance around freely until instructed to match a specific pose. During each challenge there were ample opportunities to collect golden coins. These coins could be spent on unlocking new outfits for our avatar--who wasn't the same as an Xbox Live avatar. Instead, the visual style throughout the game was described as a hybrid of styles modeled after Disney's own evolving style. You can discover Kinect: Disneyland Adventures for yourself next year.