Coming from a GamesCom near you is this preview on the Kinect game: Kinect Disneyland Adventures. Clearly targeted at the little ones, this game aims to give those gamers the magical experience of being part of the world that Disney took decades to build. And I know I came to love.

Even though this game is designed for kids, and I don’t consider myself a kid, the game kept me occupied for hours on GamesCom. It was not just the girl that showed me the game (honestly, lol), but there was something about the game that kept me with the Disney stand. Read on, and enjoy the ride.

Six Activities

There are six activities (Matterhorn, Big Thunder Mountain, Pirates of the Caribbean, Alice in Wonderland, Peter Pan’s Flight, Jungle Cruise) in the game which you can access through the map or through the general activity screen (which you can open up by raising both hands up in the air while strolling around in the park). Each activity has a bunch of levels (around 3 per activity I believe). I got to play three activities: Peter Pan’s Flight (flying), Big Thunder Mountain (railroad racing/collecting) and Alice in Wonderland (croqueting) at GamesCom.

GamesCom: Kinect Disneyland Adventures Preview kinect previews gamescom 2011 special

The Disney park

High-fiving Mickey is not on my bucket list, but I’m still glad I was given the opportunity in Disneyland Adventures. Walking around, and ‘talking’ to familiar Disney characters is part of this game and even though this may not sound all that interesting to you, the girl found that kids on GamesCom thoroughly enjoyed it. She also told me that in the final Kinect game you will be able to interact with over 40 characters that have their own personality. You can imagine that interacting with all of them may unlock a bonus, or maybe a new level. No information was provided on this though.

In addition to a interacting with the lovely characters of the Disney universe, you can also use your wand to interact with glittering parts of the environment. For me, this was not so magical, but I can imagine that the target market of this game – families with kids – would like this too. Additionally, there was also a growler and a camera, but I did not get to use these items. All in all, I feel that the interactions like these can add to the experience of just watching a Disney movie, as it opens up the world of Disney.

Come fly with Peter Pan on Disney’s music

GamesCom: Kinect Disneyland Adventures Preview kinect previews gamescom 2011 special

Flying around like Peter Pan was one of the activities in Kinect Disneyland Adventures. There were several levels, like on Captain Hook’s ship, but also flying over the Thames was part of the game. Flying was fun, and works like you would expect: hold out your arms and flap them to advance, step side-ways to make a sharp left or right, and lean in to help make more detailed moves in flight.

The gameplay is like so many other Kinect games: they are easy to get into, but being a master at flying is not something that was easy to achieve at all. After literally an hour of adventurous flying, the girl (who has massive experience playing this game) and I managed to get a 5 star rating which was (according to her) the first 5 star rating she was able to get on GamesCom. In order to get lots of stars (5 is max) you need to collect golden Mickeys (which are like Mario’s coins) by flying through them. So parents and kids: buckle up and start practicing your flying skills if you’re into that sort of competition.

But, it was not just the flying and the Disneyesk graphics that drew me in. While playing the game I was thoroughly impressed by the quality of the music in the game. Maybe these were taken from the Disney movies that have a very high production value; either way, this was a major factor in accepting the game as part of the Disney universe. Hopefully that makes sense, but I guess you have to experience it in order to understand that part. Should you be a fan of Disney music, then this game will not disappoint in that respect.

Big Thunder Mountain Railroad

The second activity that was demonstrated at GamesCom, was the thunder railroad. In this activity you are in a runaway railcar, and you will need to gather the golden Mickeys for points. To keep going on the track you need to pump to accelerate (as if you pump a tire) and to get the coins or ‘golden Mickey’s’ (and the stars that come along with them) you are going to have to reach out your hands. Triggers, which are green switches that will change the direction you go and help you avoid things, also have to be triggered in that way. Additionally, jumping will help avoid obstacles and grabbing on to bonus items.

Combining pumping, jumping and reaching out may not sound all that hard, but when you’re at it it’s quite a challenge to get those golden Mickey’s. Especially when you’re together in a multiplayer session, getting close to 5-stars (which I didn’t get to) requires a lot of communication. For small kids, this may be a bit much to handle, but it’s definitely fun to do!

Beating Alice at her game in Wonderland

In this activity both Alice and the Queen of Hearts will hit a ball that your character is in and you need to control the ball through – or around – the cards that are on the track. Also, you need to avoid the obstacles by jumping. The controls worked relatively okay, but timing my jump was hard for me.

Also, every now and then the Queen of Hearts or Alice would make the balls stop rolling by putting their stick in front of it. After the full stop, they would hit the balls again and the game would continue. This stopping and going felt like an unnecessary pause in the gameplay, and actually got me out of the game instead of keeping me focused an on the edge of my seat.

GamesCom: Kinect Disneyland Adventures Preview kinect previews gamescom 2011 special

What’s absolutely lovely is that the art style of the activity changes when you enter the new activity. So, the art style matches the part of the Disney heritage you enter (meaning: Alice in Wonderland has a different feel to it than Peter Pan has and you will recognize all kinds of touches from these games). There are also some secrets to unlock, but the girl did not really wanted to get into those, but these should help up the replay value of this game too.

Bugs?

As in every preview, I feel there is a need to balance this one as well. Even though the experience was really great (and kept me occupied for quite some time), there were definitely some things that were not up to snuff yet, and may explain why the game is not yet up for release.

You may have read this elsewhere too, but moving around in the Disney park was not as easy as you would like. It took a while to get used to and even when I thought I knew what to do, it still took me some time to really get from one place to the next. This mostly happens because your character’s orientation is shifting all the time, while you stand still in front of the TV.

Additionally, the girl with the booth explained to me that they were not showing the fight with Captain Hook yet, because occasionally the entire game would hang during that activity or the character’s sword would disappear. I don’t expect this to be much of a problem before release though, as major bugs like these are likely to be taken out (especially by respected developers like Frontier Developments).

I am a bit worried about the control system on moving around the park though, as this has been the way characters control the Kinect game since the first time they showed this game, and I don’t see them really fundamentally changing this any time soon. Not improving, or even fundamentally changing, the control scheme when walking around in the park may make getting to all the Disney characters frustrating (especially if you or your kid is into collecting all those hugs and autographs). Even though walking around in the park is not required to enjoy the other activities (that worked well, as you would expect), it could hurt the overall feel of the game.

Finally, loading the activities may take a long time too, and may just be too much to cover the attention span of your young one. It takes almost 60 seconds for an activity to load, and that’s a long time, even when there’s a mini-game that allows you to flap your arms. Maybe the change in art-style is responsible for that (as in: they cannot get rid of these load times), but hopefully they can improve.

Conclusion

Let me reiterate, I thoroughly enjoyed this game for hours, even with some of the bugs that will probably be ironed out for the most part. Should these (minor) issues still be in the game when it releases though, then getting all the collectables or nailing all activites on 5-stars may be more of a frustrating experience (after some point) then an enjoyable one.

Let’s hope Disney (and Frontier Developments which was responsible for the well received Kinectimals game) get it right, as this Kinect game really has the potential to be a great addition to Disney’s universe, and the potential to be a smashing success this Christmas.

Checkout the gameplay videos already on 123Kinect to get an impression on this Kinect game.