So, it took a while but last year Kinect eventually got into its stride. Fruit Ninja, Child of Eden, Sesame Street and Disney Land Adventure all showed that when a game is playing to the sensor’s strengths, it can create a very enjoyable, albeit unique, gaming experience. The key here though is channelling the developers to create motions that while representing what you are doing on screen can also be fun to play. Simply put that means don’t make me jog on the spot just too bloody move!
Kinect Rush: A Disney Pixar Adventure, as it is ridiculously called (KR:ADPA), puts you in “control” of a small child while they are enjoying a day out in a Pixar themed playground. Wandering round the hub area you can flit between worlds themed around Toy Story, The Incredibles, Up, Ratatouille and Cars. The basic structure of each story sees you running up the start point, where you’ll soon be accosted by another little child who will start telling a story based around the film. Soon you’ll be whisked off into his imagination where you will run, jump and drive around the world while collecting coins and completing other simple objectives like rescuing your friends, and winning races. In each level you are also tasked with collecting a number of coins and attempting to finish as quickly as possible, all that leads to a final score which when added up unlocks extra abilities of friends to play with in each world.
The problem is though, that none of the worlds you enter are actually very interesting, each follows pretty much the same structure. Run here, pick up that, throw there and move on. There is a little variation here and there, but the basic idea runs throughout the whole game, and considering the variety of characters and themes that are on show its very disappointing that each world wasn’t given its own unique feel to the gameplay. The best of the bunch is probably Cars, where you’re using an imaginary steering wheel to guide the automobile-ized version of yourself around Japan, Italy and Radiator Springs. The Kinect implementation is also at its strongest here, with the controls being both simple and intuitive. The same can’t be said for the rest of the game…
Your character in Kinect Rush spends most of their time on their feet, and controlling someone in an “open world” using Kinect has caused some developers a few headaches. Last year Disneyland Adventures came up with a simple and elegant solution which simply involved holding your hand out and moving left to right (just imagine that you were using the Force to control your on screen Avatar). This allowed you to get around the park incredibly simply and with a good level of precision. Kinect Rush goes in another direction, to move your character you have to run on the spot, while this can work in certain situations (Kinect Sports, I’m looking at you), having this as your ONLY way of moving is simply a foolish decision which takes away any fun that the game can offer, turning it into more of a chore than an experience which could be classed a fun. On occasion the running is replaced with rowing, but again this over the extended period of an entire level can be rather irksome.
Controls are not the only area where Kinect Rush should have taken more cues from Disneyland Adventure; it should have also had a look at the way in which it dealt with the park where the action is based. In Disneyland the world is literally brimming with families, collectables and characters who each have tasks for you to complete. Doing this makes the whole place feel a lot more alive, whereas in Pixar Park all you can do is run (literally) from one level to the next, with nary a distraction in between.
On the plus side, the presentation here is pretty darn good. While not quite up to the calibre of the films themselves each world is visualised incredibly and if I’m not mistaken a few of the original voice actors have even lend their vocal talents to the game. A blessing after having to put up with fake Michael Caine and Owen Wilson during last year’s Cars 2.
So overall Kinect Rush: A Disney Pixar Adventure is hard to recommend. If you want a good Disney themed game, head over to Disney Land. If you are after a good Cars or Toy Story game, the ones released over the past couple of years are far superior. And it’s all a bit of shame as developers have finally been showing what Kinect can really manage, and this feels like a throwback to the heady days of 2010 when no one really knew what Kinect could be capable of.