In an attempt to rally up some exclusive titles to release alongside the launch of the Xbox One X, Microsoft have dug into their catalogue of games and plucked Disneyland Adventures from the six year old bench – bringing it back with true 4K Ultra HD visuals, HDR support, and enabled it as an Xbox Play Anywhere experience. Disneyland Adventures was fairly well received back when it was initially released and now it can be enjoyed on controller, mouse and keyboard, and Kinect, but is it a journey that’s worth your time and attention? Sadly I cant give you a definitive yes as an answer to that question. Despite the interesting features and the allure of being able to explore the entirety of Disneyland Park, my time with Disneyland Adventures has been plagued with technical issues and frustrating bugs that have almost completely chased away any notion of fun that the game desperately tries to relay. It’s a shame really because underneath the faults there’s a decent portion of warm family fun gameplay just waiting to be tapped into.
Disneyland Adventures allows you to travel to Main Street U.S.A., Adventureland, Frontierland, Fantasyland, Critter Country, Mickey’s Toontown, Tomorrowland and New Orleans Square. Each of these locations can be taken to immediately, in fact you’re free to do what you please from the moment you’ve created your avatar and are given control over him or her. The locations within are distinct and typically fashioned around the iconic characters that are situated in each area. You’ll be taking on a wide range of fetch-quests for these characters (primarily Mickey Mouse) as well as participating in several events that can be triggered via a mixture of exploration and portal-diving. There’s no denying that there’s a lot of diverse content packed into this game but this is where my first gripe comes into view, everything is far too easy to accomplish.
Seriously even for the younger audience, the level of challenging gameplay is tediously simplistic. Quick-time-event (QTE) dancing and singing with the Disney Princesses is one prime example of that, being that the game gives you far too much time to react and offers a button mashing tempo that a blindfolded baboon could keep up with. The same can be said about skiing, which is an event that simply has you collecting as many coins as you can as you make your way from A to B – without dishing up any risk of failing. It’s like this throughout the entire experience and although I was quite fond with the sheer amount of different events and mini-games, there’s very little sense of reward due to the fact that you’re being spoon-fed from beginning to end. On top of that the loading times between each event is painfully lengthy, an annoyance you’re going to be subject to each and every time you want to take on a new event.
When you’re not flying above the streets of London with Peter Pan or smashing bombs at Captain Hook’s crew, you’ll be engaging in a number of fetch quests for the characters that lazily stand idle throughout the park. Mickey Mouse wants an autograph from Goofy? Not a problem, despite that he’s only located a mere 10 second walk away from Mickey, that is. Progress you make throughout your time in Disneyland Adventures is measured by collectable pins that you can earn through completing these fetch quests, but again much of this really depends on backtracking and talking to characters or participating in events, which is all too simple and straight forward. Don’t get me wrong, there’s a decent structure to the gameplay but without any real difficulty curve (even for the target audience) you never truly feel like you’ve accomplished anything, but instead it just feels like you’re going through the motions. This leads me onto my next gripe, or collection of gripes to be more specific.
How in the world did this game make it through QA? That’s a question I frequently asked myself during my time with the game. The amount of technical issues that are present in Disneyland Adventures is ridiculously high. The instant I was dropped into the game for the first time I was painfully acquainted with some of the worst frame-rate I’ve seen since Lichdom: Battlemage. This comes on top of screen-tearing issues that mercifully don’t prove to be as regular, yet still prove to be just as utterly annoying. If that wasn’t bad enough try picturing sections of the park not rendering in whilst you’re moving around and exploring, it’s just a complete mess and I’m appalled that it’s been set loose in the state that it’s in. Do the problems end there? No, in fact it arguably gets worse. Characters that you must engage with will frequently remain invisible until you stand in close proximity with them for north of 20 seconds a pop.
Imagine trying to locate Goofy to get an autograph for Mickey, but not being able to see him and only hear him. Then imagine following the sound of his voice until you’re stood next to him, unable to talk with him or complete a quest until he magically appears out of thin air several moments later. Then imagine that happening for most of the characters within the game across most of the scenarios you’re tasked with, sounds as irritating as hell right? It is. I wouldn’t necessarily say that the great voice acting, the passable visuals and the authentic Disney-vibe is a ‘saving grace’ because in all honesty, there’s far too much wrong with this game to justify the price tag. It may look like a good game that houses a range of colourful characters and well designed environments, but it comes tethered to some of the most noticeable and invasive issues you’ll have to contend with until a big fix is unleashed. Whoever is in charge of QA seriously needs a talking to because this is far from acceptable.
Disneyland Adventures is technically flawed to a degree that only someone with the patience of a saint can endure whilst still having fun. Frame-rate issues, screen-tearing, parts of the environment not rendering correctly and characters remaining invisible for excessive amounts of time are chief faults. Lengthy loading times and overly simplistic gameplay awaits those of you that can overlook the aforementioned problems, which is a shame really because underneath these downsides there’s a well designed game that offers up a diverse band of content, all of which comes with that fun-loving Disney vibe. Is it worth the asking price? Not by a long shot, not with the current issues present anyway. It may indeed look like a solid experience on the face of it, but don’t be fooled by this wolf in sheep’s clothing. Unless a fix is applied swiftly, avoid this game like the plague.
This game was tested and reviewed on Xbox One. All of the opinions and insights here are subject to that version.