After being extremely disappointed in Kinect Disneyland Adventures at E3 in Jue, I decided to give it a go here at D23, with a couple more months of work under its belt, to see if anything had been improved upon. There were absolutely new features, game mechanics and levels, but is anything actually better? What I learned and my impressions below.
-Over 35 characters to meet and greet, each with his own personality, culled from chats with actual Imagineers
-Original voice actors recorded voices for every character
-If you don't wish to follow through the physical motions for character interaction, you can also use voice command
-The game is open world, the first of its kind for Kinect, so they had to design a whole new navigation system - pointing. Point in a direction and your character will walk there.
-The crowd magically parts as you walk through them
-Can take photos with characters (note: as your avatar, not as you) and upload them to the internet
-Have a few objects at your disposal, including the camera, growler, and wand
-With the wand, you can animate up to 300 objects and receive treasure after casting each spell
-Collect enough treasure and you can spend it in shops for souvenirs and costumes
-With the wand, you can also discover magical objects, which the game keeps track of, achievement style
-Right now there are six attractions: Peter Pan, Alice in Wonderland, Pirates of the Caribbean, Thunder Mountain, Jungle Cruise and Matterhorn
-There will be up to 20 attractions, potentially with more as DLC, but that's not in the works right now
-Every ride is based on a story, so the game developers discussed the back story to each attraction with the imagineers, and came up with the levels for each attraction based on the story
-Chapters within each attraction
-Rather than just "ride a ride", each chapter interacts with a different aspect of the attractions' environment, based on the original story behind the attraction.
-Attraction gaming interactions include pose matching, sword fighting, throwing things, flying, skiing, and more
-There will be many cinematics helping to tell the story as well
-Each attraction has a character guide (Jungle Cruise has the skipper and gorillas, Matterhorn has Goofy, Peter Pan has Peter Pan and Tinkerbell, etc)
-Players can jump in or out of the game at any time to maximize social appeal
-Avatars are children, since the idea of the game is to "bring our your inner child"
-Some avatar customizing options
-They created their own avatars rather than use the Xbox ones, because the art of the Xbox avatars is too different from the art of the Disney world that was created
-The park is almost an exact recreation, down to the secret places where Walt's initials are hiding to the golden spike in the castle marking the center of the park.
Just like at E3, my favorite aspect of this game remains the world's accuracy. I've always had a thing for recognizing landmarks in my games, usually ones taking place in LA or New York, though rarely is something *exactly* the same, square foot for pixelated square foot. My favorite part of this demo was simply running through the lands, seeing how long the lines were and pushing through the crowds. As a result, I quite enjoyed the introduction of the wand mechanic, as it means further interaction with the world around you as the player. Cast a spell on whatever, and hey, if something happens, you get coins and achievements and a modicum of satisfaction. Yay!
Also just like at E3, I'm still vastly underwhelmed when it comes to the gameplay within each attraction. I tried out the sword fighting chapter, one of the levels in the Pirates of the Caribbean attraction, which had just been created right before D23. The game seemed completely unresponsive to anything I was doing. Granted, it's new and I kept drifting out of the playing space in order to avoid whacking the Microsoft spokeswoman in the face, but it was entirely too much work for very little gratification.
An aspect I I enjoyed a lot more this time around than at E3, was the character interactions. We got to see our avatar say hello to three different characters, Mickey, Peter Pan, and the Queen of Hearts. Each had a specific reaction to everything we did, whether it be a hug, high five, or asking to dance. While Mikey was clearly friendly, Peter was friendly, but didn't like getting *too* close, and the Queen of Hearts was regal and demanded our relationship stay so. If only our "photos" with these characters could somehow combine a Kinect photo of us in that moment, with the character on the screen, I'd think the photo aspect was a good add, but a photo of an avatar with a character on Facebook seems rather pointless.
I'm still not sure in what Universe someone would actually own this game, but if a friend had it, I wouldn't object to throwing it on just to explore the park, cast spells, and buy crap, but I'm far from sold on the gameplay and even the theory behind the gameplay. A part of me would kind of rather just get a first person view of the game with the impetus to interact on that level. Like, lean correctly on the Matterhorn and the faster you go, or cast spells on the Jungle Cruise as it goes along to see things come to life - or turn the Cruise itself into a throwing game for points. But taking away the ride aspect completely away is kind of a turn off. It'll take a lot more convincing before I'll think otherwise.