Kinect Rush: A Disney-Pixar Adventure Review
Written : Friday, March 23, 2012
By: Lee Abrahams
Pixar films are made of pure awesome, right? Well except for Cars 2, but we’ll pretend that never happened. It’ll be our little secret. So transferring some of that big screen magic into a Kinect game aimed at kids should be a piece of cake. A dash of mini games here, a sprinkle of iconic characters there and, hey presto, pure gaming gold. Only it doesn’t always work that way, as countless Disney-Pixar tie-ins to date have proven, so creating a game that is fun for kids is a mission in and of itself.
Utilising the power of Kinect seems to be the way to go for family-friendly games at the moment, and it certainly gets everyone involved in a more hands-on Disney experience. Though the main focus of Kinect will always be in making the controls just right - which is a challenge that not every developer seems to be up to - it's safe to say that Kinect Rush: A Disney-Pixar Adventure falls down a bit in that respect. But we're getting a touch ahead of ourselves.
"Insert comedy wobbling noises here."
The premise itself is certainly a good one. At the start of the game you can scan your mug into the game, in order to create a cartoon representation of yourself with which to tackle the games many obstacles. The scanning process is pretty hit and miss to say the least, as my character came out with black skin and an afro. Feel free to look at my profile picture to see if that is entirely accurate. My wife even tried the same thing, with varying levels of light, with the same outcome. Frankly it doesn’t matter a jot one way or another, but kids might be disappointed to see that their virtual equivalent looks absolutely nothing like them. That being said – I did look totally boss in my superhero costume, so that’s all that matters.
Once you are let loose in the game, you can jog around the Pixar lot and chat to kids in order to start one of the Kinect Rush's various levels or games. Straight away the control issues come to the fore, as in order to move you have to swing your arms and the faster you swing, the faster you move. All well and good until your realise that when you turn your body, you are also turning your character. Now try swinging your arms without turning your body which, unless you have patented Michael Johnson’s robot running style, is as tough as it sounds. Cue your character veering off all over the place unless you move as slowly as you possibly can to minimise the effect. Patience may well be possible for adults, but let a kid loose on the game and you can watch the mayhem unfold.
"Prepare to not make it to that gate in a straight line."
This same issue creeps into a lot of the games and levels on show, which is a shame as there is plenty of variety on offer despite that. Taking in The Incredibles, Toy Story, Cars, Up and Ratatouille, there's plenty to see. It’s a shame that there's no real story to speak of, with all the areas just tied together loosely based on whichever film series you choose to partake in, but at least the tasks on offer are fun enough up to a point. Most of them see you gallivanting down lengthy courses, strewn with obstacles and coins to grab, and thankfully these areas are large enough that the unwieldy controls never become too much of an issue as you have plenty of room to play with. Plus smashing into objects in your path barely slows you down, so progress is pretty much assured. Occasionally you will have to jump over blockages, clamber up walls or throw items to open up new areas and it's at these points, when you're forced to slow down and try to navigate confined areas, that things become especially frustrating and tricky as the sensor sometimes struggles to let you make the precise movements you require. Plus the game has a very unwieldy guidance system with arrows popping up in the general vicinity of where you want to go, and characters offering up unhelpful advice telling you to get a move on.
With overly fiddly controls and stages that follow a very similar pattern littering the majority of the game, it was a surprise to see that the Cars sections seemed to work that much better. Steering with your arms works extremely well indeed, and the tracks are cleverly made so that impossibly tight turns are never an issue and zipping around corners and over jumps is pretty fun. Perhaps this highlights exactly when the game works best, and that’s when things are kept nice and simple. Being able to just relax and enjoy the ride is much more fun than struggling with the twitchy puzzle sections that crop up.
Kinect Rush is a game aimed purely at kids, and works on that level to some extent. Most levels last no more than ten minutes or so and feature all the Pixar buddies that they will have come to love. Completing each stage snags you points and unlocks new levels to tackle, while you can also unlock Pixar characters to use and special abilities to make your life easier along the way. As a package there is certainly plenty to see and do, but it boils down to the fact most of the tasks are variations on the same theme, and the controls sometimes aren’t up to the task.
"Eat my transparent car, you bounder!"
For those after some easy Gamerscore, you can look no further, as you should be able to snag the majority just by playing through the game. Some will be more taxing than that, especially as you have to re-complete entire episodes with certain characters or finish certain levels without falling or hitting obstacles. The controls make the last set of tasks more of a pain than they should be, but with a bit of perseverance dedicated players shouldn’t have too many issues.
As with all Kinect games the controls are key, and Kinect Rush: A Disney-Pixar Adventure falls down whenever it asks you to do anything even slightly technical. The more straightforward sections are much more enjoyable and kids will probably get a blast out of the game regardless, mainly due to its forgiving nature and level design. However, the controls, dubious scanning system, poor guidance and repetitive levels mean this is hardly going to be a must buy for anyone but the most dedicated fan. It's the Cars 2 of Disney-Pixar retail games then.
A collection of theme music and Pixar character quips, which is no bad thing really. But it soon gets repetitive.
Decent, but that's hardly good enough considering the Disney-Pixar pedigree, and the lip synching is especially atrocious.
Hit and miss Kinect controls mean this game is often more trouble than it’s worth. Though the well made Cars sections almost make up for it. Almost.
Each area has it’s own look and feel, plus a range of adventures that kids will lap up. If only they weren’t so similar.
A no frills list, that tasks you with completing all the levels, then doing it again with a certain character. Mop up all the medals, and level specific tasks and you’ll be done.
Not really a sterling representation of the Disney-Pixar alliance, but Kinect Rush will keep kids happy for a while – as long as they have the patience to put up with frustrating movement and handling. With a few tweaks this could have been a much smoother experience, but as it is there is just too little fun and too much effort involved.