Whether you grew up with the magical charm of Disney or are an avid admirer of Pixar’s photorealistic feature films, you’ve got to admire the sheer magnitude of intellectual property covered by these two powerhouses.
Following on from Kinect: Disneyland Adventures comes Kinect Rush: A Disney Pixar Adventure, a whole new adventure exploring the diverse and iconic Pixar universe, placing you right inside the amazing worlds of Toy Story, The Incredibles, Cars, Ratatouille and UP!
Before you get started, you will need a virtual cartoon replica of yourself in order to get around in the Pixar universe. This process is as simple as standing in front of the Kinect sensor and being scanned into the action. Kinect Rush does a pretty decent job of picking up your features and after choosing your gender, eye colour and hairstyle, you are shown what you will look like in each of the min-game collections.
Throughout the game you will take the form of a superspy in Cars, a superhero in The Incredibles, a robot in Toy Story, a crafty rodent in Ratatouille and a ‘Wilderness Explorer’ in UP! The customized characters actually look like they’ve been taken right out of a Pixar film and go one step further in personalising the fun than simply using your Xbox avatar.
Once you’re ready to go, you’re welcomed into Pixar Park which is basically a central hub where you can interact with other kids, learn the basics of moving around or simply jump straight into an adventure. The park is beautifully rendered and does a good job of visually bringing all the franchises together, but sadly offers nothing more than being a dashboard for the five mini-game collections.
What stood out to me was how closely all the characters and environments reflected their feature film counterparts; it made for a surprisingly immersive experience. Each mini-game boasted its own unique graphic treatment from the bright primary colours of Toy Story, to the slick futuristic sheen of the Incredibles and the warmly lit realism of Ratatouie. Each mini-game is broken down into stages where you can earn points and awards, complete the entire story all at once or jump between adventures in Pixar Park.
The activity level for Kinect Rush is standing-active and even half an hour of gameplay will give you a decent cardio workout – it is also very effective in absorbing young children’s seemingly endless amounts of energy. At its core, Kinect Rush is a platformer with some racing thrown into the mix. For the most part, you will be literally running, jumping and climbing your way through the action.
Each mini-game favours certain gameplay elements over others but there is a good reuse of the controls learned. For example in Cars, which is primarily a racing game – no surprises there – you control your character by holding both hands straight in front of you as though holding a steering wheel. There are moments in the Toy Story game where you will use the same actions learned in Cars to drive your Robot around a mini-track. The transition is done seamlessly and helps tie the collective Pixar universe together.
Where Kinect Rush manages to shine is in its co-operative gameplay, if you can bear with the intermittent recognition issues. Friends or family members can drop in and share in some split-screen fun. Working together, you can explore alternate routes and collect all the points which you couldn’t get on your own. Come together as a family to destroy giant robots in the Incredibles or pair up with a fellow Wilderness Explorer in UP! to solve puzzles and progress through the stages.
Whilst there may only be a few stages that make up each mini-game collection there is definitely a high replayability appeal. As you progress you will unlock special characters and bonus abilities or perks which entice you to go back to previously completed stages to try them on for size or to beat your previous records. Most of the exploring of the Pixar environments is done within each game, offering stories and scenes that never made it to the big screen.
Even though the original voice actors from the feature films didn’t make an appearance, the games still managed to keep their Pixar appeal with familiar scores and sound bites. Being a voice enabled game, Kinect Rush allowed for easy menu navigation by simply saying what you see which helped prevent those awkward occasions where you struggle to keep your hand still over a button.
Aimed at families and principally young children, Kinect Rush is sure to keep them busy this holiday and invites them to become part of their favourite Pixar adventures. Hardcore gamers who are fans of the Pixar films, however, will most likely get bored with the simplified controls or become frustrated with the occasional inaccurate responses or misinterpreted gestures. Nevertheless, it’s hard not to be drawn into such a well rendered playground showcasing some of Pixar’s finest films to date.