Review: Kinect Rush – A Disney Pixar Adventure
Pixar’s films have the uncanny ability to appeal to all age groups. The simple plot lines crossed with beautiful animation charm younger audiences, while the underlying themes and humour also work just as well for adults. Pixar games on the other hand sometimes have a harder time achieving this, primarily because as it’s an interactive experience, the game needs to be able to be played by the younger audience, generally resulting in a streamlined platform game without much substance.
If I told you that a Pixar game was launching for the Kinect that allowed to interact with your favourite characters as you travel through five colourful worlds, you’d be expecting a collection of motion controlled mini-games right? Well, Kinect Rush: A Disney Pixar Adventure is here to prove you wrong! Featuring a perfect combination of varied gameplay including both open spaces and on-rails segments utilising all aspects of the Kinect, yet also providing an in-depth progression system, it might just appeal to all age groups!
First up, I have to congratulate Asobo Studio’s for capturing the Pixar look and feel. Each themed game world is peppered with great details, creating the perfect atmosphere for each respective series. From racing through Radiator springs, to skating along Froozo’s ice tracks, each and every level is designed in such a way that you’re never doing the same activity for long. The fifteen levels take place through five Pixar worlds including Toy Story, Cars, The Incredibles, Ratatouille and Up as you run, jump, climb, race, fly, throw, skate and more. The fast paced varied gameplay works in its favour, resulting in levels which take around 6/7 minutes to get through, meaning that the action is always high, and there’s never a dull moment.
The majority of Kinect Rush is made up of platforming through both open and linear areas. Unlike other Kinect titles which utilise full-body-control, Kinect Rush just uses your upper body to move and turn. There isn’t a tutorial per-say, but prompts are very clear when they’re needed. Tips are placed throughout the loading screens, offering up gestures that aren’t always explained in the game. One in particular I wish had been explained earlier is the option to lean back to jump your character backwards. As expected, this is useful for getting yourself out of a corner, alleviating some frustration of movement, but I didn’t learn it till the last few levels! Thankfully the gesture recognition is pretty consistent, even for two players, resulting in a very smooth experience as you tilt, lean, jump, grab, throw among others.
So, it’s called Rush for a reason! Collecting coins is one thing, but getting through the level as fast as possible is just as important, since it’s often responsible for a high percentage of your overall score. It goes without saying that Bronze, Silver and Gold medals are awarded depending on your total, though you’ll be wanting to aim around 9000 for the Platinum medal. A gold medal is reasonably straight forward to get on your first time through with a Co-Op partner, but you’ll need the unlockables to have any chance of grabbing the Platinum in solo. By playing each level multiple times, you’ll unlock buddies and objectives, which on repeat plays gives you additional tasks, thus rewarding you with more coins! The objectives in question can range from rescuing your friends, leading the aliens back to the their ship, closing suitcases among many others (and that’s just in the Toy Story campaign!). Because the progression system works on a level by level basis, you’ll be unlocking the same buddies for each level individually, but since it keeps each level segmented, your progress won’t be stilted by a previous level, a plus in my books. You’ll also unlock concept art and even the chance to play as characters from the movie instead of ‘yourself’.
This level of progression is a huge factor in adding to the replay value of Kinect Rush. It’s certainly possible to blast through the game in an afternoon, though you’d be missing out on half the game if you left it at that. The additions to the gameplay via the unlockables really show how well Asobo have grasped the nature of the source material. It’s easy to point and say ‘Where’s Monster Inc./Wall:E/Bug’s Life etc.’, but I feel there’s definitely enough to keep the average gamer busy for some time. Maybe they’ll offer this as DLC or in a sequel? Who knows, but I certainly think that Asobo have gained themselves a lot of respect for how polished and fun they can make a Kinect experience.
The main hub area provides an overwhelming sense of respect for Pixar, from the ‘birds’ sitting atop the logo, to the miniaturised versions of each world, it reflects and encompasses the classic look of the respective films, making each world feel unique. As you scamper through Paris, race through Radiator Springs, or traverse the dense jungle, everything from the music to the sounds effects reflect each Pixar film perfectly, it’s just a shame that some of the voice actors aren’t the best of imitators, though this will only be noticeable to the more discerning audience.
Encompassing the vision of the Kinect, Kinect Rush actually puts you into the experience by picking out coloured clothes and hair styles by scanning you in the opening sequence. The process may be a little long, but it’s great fun to see yourself represented in the game as a Robot, Car, Super Hero, Adventurer and a Rat. It’s little touches like this that just add that little extra to the game.
Going for the high scores will be tough by yourself, and it’s here where the Co-Op comes into play. Seamlessly transitioning when a second player enters the play space, Kinect Rush keeps going without a hitch. Because the levels often feature multiple paths to the same destination, having a friend to help out will definitely benefit your chance of getting through the game quicker, as well as allowing you to split up and multi-task in the more open segments. The AI is generally good at doing the right thing, though they can get stuck occasionally. Your buddy also has the ability to grab coins, all contributing to your overall bank, potentially meaning that you can cover three routes if you have a friend joining in. It’s purely split-screen, with no online functionality, though this can’t really be held against it. The recognition worked very well while playing in split-screen, though arguably it did have a little trouble with a couple of the more complex gestures, though this could have simply been down to my play space. The clapping motion to change your buddy, or the spinning car maneuver didn’t trigger perfectly every time for me, though usually you can try again without wasting too much time.
Transitions between the myriad gameplay styles are quick, though do not force you forward unnecessarily as there really isn’t a time constraint, unless you’re after the platinum medal, in which case you’ll need to carefully balance your time between completing all the optional objectives and keeping an eye on the clock. It’s nothing too taxing, but it’s best to head on rather than running back since you missed a couple of coins.
What impresses me most about Kinect Rush: A Disney Pixar Adventure is how well it represents the subject matter it is based on. Not only in the visual and sound department, but it also captures the essence of allowing young and old to appreciate the experience at the same time. Kids will love rushing through the levels seeing their favourite characters involved in varied gameplay, but there’s the depth and replay value that older gamers will require as well. The extra objectives, collectables and awards means there’s always something to be done, and it’s all very easy to track through use of the ‘My Stuff’ option on the menu. If it’s too much effort to lift your hands after all that running, you can use your voice instead to navigate most options.
Overall, Kinect Rush provides a very compelling and unique experience for the Kinect. It utilises a huge variety of gestures, and provides the depth to keep you returning for more. Capturing the aesthetic approach of each film is impressive, and the way it all links together alleviates pretty much any frustrations that may have hindered it. As to be expected, gesture recognition isn’t 100% perfect, though since the levels are quick and varied, it won’t really get in the way. If you’re after a fun, colourful solo or family game for your Kinect that’s been sitting unused for months, you’d be hard pressed to a better game to keep you busy.