After spending a lot of time with Kinect Disneyland Adventures, I feel like I usually do after hanging out at the real Disneyland. I enjoyed myself, but I'm tired. I have fond memories of many of the good times I had, but overall my experience is somewhat tainted by the portions that frustrated me. This gaming potpourri of all things Disney is an enjoyable ride overall, but even a virtual Fast Pass doesn't mask its Frontierland-sized flaws.
My initial instincts when popping Disneyland Adventures into my Xbox are just like everyone else's when they first walk through the gates of the Magic Kingdom -- I want to explore! And this game certainly lends itself to plenty of that. Adventures is massive! Every themed section of the park -- from Critter Country to Tomorrowland -- has been recreated in great detail, and just like at the actual Disneyland, there is plenty to see and do.
Famous Disney characters are scattered throughout the park, and best of all, they're not swarmed with tourists! You can actually walk up to them and say hello, have a dance, get your picture taken, and help them out on quests. Guides give you short snippets of the history of the park, and you can even buy collectible pins and outfits in the ubiquitous stores. When they're working, that is.
Yep, just like the theme park it's modelled after, Adventures has some portions that will leave you frustrated. But in lieu of long lines, crowds, and high priced concessions you're given inconsistency. The voice and motion recognition controls, which work so well in almost every other menu, are unreliable here. Sometimes they'll work, sometimes they won't. This unreliability can be seen in other areas of the game as well.
Adventures also doesn't do a very good job of explaining how some parts of the game work. That blaster Buzz Lightyear tossed you? Just figure it out. That conductor's baton Prince Naveen gave you? Wave it at something. Even Disneyland's world famous attractions, which are fun mini-games to play because they take something recognizable and put a unique spin on it (I really enjoyed my snowball fight with the Yetis on the Matterhorn), require some trial and error to figure out what to do.
But the game's biggest letdowns are its on-rails mini-games. There are several of these that will have you doing everything from rowing to flying to skiing, but they lack precise control, something that kids aged ten and under, the target audience for this title, are likely to struggle with.
In every other aspect, however, Adventures shines. The Kinect interface is simple, straightforward, and works well when your in-game avatar is in a stationary environment. This allows you to do a wide range of fun activities from performing interpretive dances with fairies, to playing hide and seek with Nemo, and even doing a simplified knockoff of Dance Central with the Disney princesses.
And then, of course, there's the Disney aura. It oozes from this game. The scores of happy families, the gentle and caring characters you've grown up with your entire life, and the chance to virtually wander around a place that is so beloved can't help but make you smile.