With the Xbox One experiencing a drought of first-party titles, consumers are left wondering what to purchase in the huge gap left by Microsoft Studios. Fable Heroes and Scalebound were supposed to be the company’s killer apps. But unfortunately, both were prematurely canceled and left in the ash heap of software limbo. From all this creative uncertainty there exists some glimmer of hope for Microsoft’s flagship console. Such faith is repaid in the form of a little unknown gem by Asobo Studios called Kinect Rush: A Disney-Pixar Adventure. While not entirely perfect, this romp through the world of Disney licenses proves its grain of salt in both its variety of gameplay and wonderful array of characters. Still, with such colorful creativity, few fans even know of its existence in the face of yearly Call of Duty entries and big sports franchises. For all its vacant press attention, Rush Adventure stands in a pantheon of its own if not for its attention to detail to the legacy of Pixar and the on-screen grandeur it’s delivered in the past two decades.
The Plot and Gameplay
A pastiche of variable Disney universes, Rush Adventure is a platform game that utilizes both Xbox’s Kinect sensor and traditional style gameplay. Players are transported to a wide range of worlds ranging from Toy Story to Cars and Ratatouille. While lacking slightly in the storyline department, the game uses a Disneyland theme park framing device as its world hub and from their players can venture into different parts of the Pixar universe. The game itself is a remake of the 2012 Xbox 360 release, and its highly texturized world shows right from the outset. Right from the beginning, players can choose between being a girl or boy character and from there you can pick which Disney landscape to explore. The entirety of the story is based upon meeting new iconic characters from Pixar’s catalog and engaging each stage as one would a film. The story is almost completely absent when compared to who you will meet en-route to complete each stage. An amusement theme park framing device lends the game a sense of party like atmosphere resembling the Mario Party franchise.
The wide range of Disney Pixar characters is the driving force behind purchasing this Xbox exclusive. The 2017 remake not only provides consumers with traditional style controllers but also expands on the Pixar universe by incorporating the Finding Dory film world into the gameplay. Each stage feels like a vignette of Pixar’s history which is what makes this title so fun to play. It does not take itself seriously, but rather, its charm is based on the simplicity of its exploration and mini-games. The Cars stage in particular is a standout moment. The racing mechanics were on par with any modern cart racer and the handling of Lightning Mcqueen was astonishing when one realized that this is a game geared towards children. The remake also imbues the visuals with a greater sense of scale by utilizing the console’s 4k resolution for an even greater cartoon-like style. As the game progresses and more worlds unlocked, each stage harbored its own storyline to where one feels as if the skimpy main plotline, an unhappy child seeks adventure in a fantasy Disney world, is overlooked simply by the array of famed characters you encounter.
Each world has its own style of gameplay that touches on a different video game genre. For example, Ratatouille’s world is presented as a coin grabbing 3D platformer that harkens back to the glory days of the genre’s popular appeal on the Nintendo 64. Paris’ streets feel as lively as they are in the movie, with Pixar engineers working to merge the world of the film into real-time gameplay mechanics. In The Incredibles stages, players embark on a mini-quest to help the Parr family overcome the Super Villains through the medium of the beat em up’ and racing genres. Such a thematic tapestry portrays a product that is not afraid to experiment with different genres even if it is geared towards a younger audience. The voice acting is stellar even though many of the in-game characters aren’t brought to life by their cinematic counterparts. Seeing the Incredibles vignette with all its campy voice-over work did not hamper the visual orchestral vibe this title imbues.
In terms of quality, this game is a true love letter to fans of Pixar. Each section of the studio’s canon is explored in depths unseen since the great Capcom Disney games on the Sega Genesis. When flying the spaceship in The Incredibles level and with Michael Giacchino’s score blasting in the background, one can easily see the high production value Asobo studios aspires to. The developers brilliantly immerse your playable character into the greater plethora of the Pixar universe through the direct contact the two entities make. This comes to fruition eloquently in the Incredibles segment. When you enter that world your character assumes the identity of your very own superhero equipped with a unique costume. During this stage, players encounter Violette Parr and thus the two of you must combat villainy in the realm of the Incredibles universe. Such instances of visual immersion help to unify your onscreen character with established Pixar protagonists. Rarely has a licensed game ever incorporated one with such fantastical realism as Disney Rush Adventures does. But with all the flashy visuals, a variation of gameplay styles, and the brilliant use of popular licenses, this Xbox exclusive is not perfect.
One of the major issues with this game is the lack of substance it has during many of its exploration segments. The world of Ratatouille is sectioned off and is not as open as it should have been. Even with all its variety, each aspect of the Pixar universe seems more like a sneak peek rather than a full-fledged adventure. Such shortening of exploration destroyed what could have been a grand adventure. The world of Pixar is a vast universe but here, it is told through a series of vignettes that were episodic at best. Even the amusement park mechanic failed to live up to expectations. Certain aspects of Disneyland were completely sectioned off. Main Street felt merely two blocks long and many of the classic characters from the company’s library barely made an appearance. The title is a Pixar game through and through, and with the absence of vintage Disney icons like Mickey Mouse barely present; the game gave off a barren vibe.
The lack of a proper storyline is another blemish in this hidden gem. During the glory days of the 16-bit era, most Disney themed games were brilliantly written with a quest that was as grandiose as its visuals. Here, Rush Adventure’s exposition as deep as a street puddle. All we know of your protagonist is that he/she is a lonely kid seeking adventure in the magical kingdom. Nothing is known of your backstory nor is you a necessity in the grander scheme of the game’s universe. This Xbox exclusive could have been better served as a party game rather than an aspiring adventurer. More an advertisement for Disney rather than a proper mainstream console exclusive, Asobo Studios dropped the ball when tackling the world of Pixar. The inside attractions in the hub world are merely a coat of paint on an empty canvas which unfortunately had a domino effect on the rest of the gameplay.
In the end, Kinect Rush: A Disney Pixar Adventure is a solid yet vain approach to tackling the universe of its namesake. With a limited hub world, a useless playable protagonist, and absent storyline, the game housed many holes in its roof that could have sent the whole product crashing down on its fan base. But yet, out of the flames of mediocrity rises a phoenix built on aspiration. What makes this title such a charming exclusive is its aspiration for simplicity and variety of gameplay. Even without a plot, Disney Pixar Adventure keeps the player engaged by the tapestry it weaves. It blankets the player in a sheet of nuances that keeps viewers wanting more from each spec of the Pixar catalog. Seeing The Incredibles coincide with Ratatouille is unusual at first but slowly you understand why the developers patched together such an array of NPC’s. If anything, this product is a visual introduction to the world of Pixar that feeds you the appetizer without ever serving the main course. Fun, even if at times devoid of substance, Kinect Rush: A Disney Pixar Adventure is a charming remake that warrants ownership in any Xbox One owner’s library.
Anthony Frisina is a graduate of the City University of New York-Brooklyn College with a BA in Political Science with a minor in Psychology. After finishing his undergraduate degree, Anthony went on to attend Brooklyn College's Film Academy and Writer's workshop program, achieving an interdisciplinary degree in Screenwriting and Film theory in the Fine Arts. Transforming his love for classic American cinema, Anthony went on to adapt a number of his own works into different mediums, including his well-received Western novel The Regulator. Anthony likes to spend his free time writing articles for magazines and periodicals that cover a wide range of topics, from science fiction to popular culture. As a screenwriter, Anthony has had his screenplays featured at numerous spec script writing competitions across the country where he one day hopes to write the next great American film.