When it was announced that Microsoft would be remastering the two Disney Xbox 360 titles for the Xbox One, most people raised a sceptic eye. Was this really the right move for Xbox? Who was waiting for this?
Well I was, for one! When I read about it, I was absolutely ecstatic! Not only am I a major fan of everything Disney, I’m now the proud father of a 2 year old daughter that shares my love for it. As you can read here, she’s also no stranger to watching me play videogames and taking the controller in her own (tiny) hands every now and then. So I knew right away I wanted to be the one to review these titles and that she could offer useful feedback.
Bringing the console to the Xbox One, the team at Asobo Studios did not only increase the graphical quality of the game, you could now also play it without Kinect and they even added a new world, bringing the total to 6 wonderful Pixar worlds.
At the start of the game you get to create your own character, you can customise things like gender, hair color and outfit, but you’ll always end up with a ten year old kid. You’re then dropped of at Pixar Park where other kids play and imagine they’re the main characters of various Disney Pixar movies, each with a mini-story that unfolds. I’ll cover them later in the article where I mini-review each different world (with a little input from my little girl ^^)
What I really liked from their approach here, was that your choices made during character creation are reflected in your playable character for each world. I made this short video to showcase it:
How do I say this? The game looks simply stunning! I honestly can’t see how they could improve on this even more. You’d be forgiven for forgetting that you’re actually playing a game and not watching a Pixar movie at times, in fact: that’s exactly how my daughter felt about it. I often let her watch me play (childfriendly) games but she usually grows tired of that rather quickly. Here? She enjoyed it just as much as watching a Disney Pixar movie. It also received 4K and HDR support and looks simply GORGEOUS on the Xbox One X and a compatible TV:
I’m not going to lie, the amazing visuals are what will keep me coming back to the game first and foremost. Each world oozes style, the settings fit the source material perfectly and there is an awe-inspiring sense of scale in the Ratatouille, Finding Dory and Toy Story worlds. The attention to detail is on point and I couldn’t believe how great some of the textures looked. Play this game only for how good it looks and you will not be disappointed!
The soundtrack for each episode is nicely suited for it and appropriate for the source material. I think they managed to get most, if not all, of the original voice-actors to voice the lines in the game, at least for the English version. With this come two of my biggest issues with the game and the main reason I’m not scoring it even higher than I am: the voice tracks repeat way too often in some cases. You can only hear “This is a restaurant, not a pet shop” so many times before going crazy. To make matters worse, I’ve had occasions where one line would cut off another before it finished.
As for the language, this won’t be an issue to most but there is no language select in the game itself, it uses the language setting of your Xbox one. I would have liked to switch to Dutch (when my daughter is watching) or English (when I’m recording footage) on the fly without having to reset my entire console’s language. Impressive that they had everything voiced in the correct language though!
Gameplay + Minireviews
There’s two main types of gameplay: either you’ll be in a level where you’re ever moving forward (Finding Dory + Cars to some level) or a kind of free-roaming level where the goal you need to reach is straight ahead, but there are many different paths you could take to get there. The latter kind sometimes have a segment where they use gameplay from the former though, just check the Toy Story video above to see what I mean.
There is a lot of incentive to replay each level, as you’ll unlock new buddies that will help you get to before unreachable areas or there are simply paths left unexplored. The main goal of each level is quite obviously to get from point A to point B, but you’re supposed to do it as fast as possible and you can pick up coins or perform side-objectives to earn more points.
Each level also allows for it to be played with two players co-operatively, which could greatly increase your score as you can each take a different path to collect the biggest amount of coins possible. If you don’t have someone to play with the AI will take over that role. It’s smart enough that it always knows what to do in the right situation. I would have also liked to test the Kinect controls for this one, but sadly I traded in my old Xbox One and have not yet bought the Kinect adapter that is now required on the Xbox One X.
The only complaint I could see coming from more experienced gamers is that the package is too easy, but you can always increase the challenge by trying to get a better time or a better score. The level of difficulty is perfect for its target audience and for me, it’s been a welcome stress-reliever.
Below, I’ll go over each world briefly and let my lovely 2.5 year old daughter, Fé, add some thoughts as well.
Let’s start off with the new addition. Finding Dory is perhaps the best looking of the bunch, being custom developed with 4K and HDR in mind. There’s only two levels of this world, whereas the others have three but the amount of graphical detail and lush environments more than make up for it. It’s an amazing experience to get to play through the film’s locations and some of these were really awe-inducing like when you’re swimming through the aquarium and children’s hands are plunging into to the water and trying to grab you.
Fé: “I like fishies. I wish I could pet them. This looks very pretty, daddy! Please play as Dory next time. (Don’t worry, I love you too, little turtle…)”
This is perhaps the most difficult level to get all the collectables for though and will thus require the most playthroughs: simply because you can’t move backwards or slow down too much so you need to know exactly where you’re going. The segment with the aquarium I mentioned earlier is an excellent example of the sense of scale I spoke about: you really do feel like you’re a little fish (Fé: “..or turtle!) in a massive fishtank.
In the Toy Story world, we’re asked to bring mr Pricklepants, the hedgehog, back to its child-owner. He’s fallen out of her backpack and we have to traverse along the day care, an airport (Fé: “…and in an airplane! Swush!”) and a garbage disposal factory.
Fé: “I liked it when we were at the playground. I love playgrounds! And we helped other toys, like Doc Mcstuffing!”
Again, since we’re playing as a little toy, everything else seems huge in comparison. It’s amazing to see little kids storm out of the classrooms like giants. But when you’re in the playground you can even see the tiny little pieces of bark or blades of grass make way as you move around through them. Not many games succeed in correctly translating this sensation of scale.
In UP, we’re trying to save the Kevin and his babies as they’re being stolen by Muntz and his talking dogs. We make our way across rivers and Woods, the inside of a zeppelin that looks like a museum and finally a canyon while being shot at by flying dogs. Yes, really.
Fé: “Yup! Talking dogs in tiny airplanes! And Doug is so funny! SQUIRREL!”
I liked the movie a lot and was suprised to see they found three good environments to show us in this game. Each one feels varied and the water looks great in the opening epsiode (I’m a sucker for good water physics and Visuals)
While I liked the Incredibles when I first saw it, I found the movie largely forgettable as it didn’t really offer us anything that we don’t normally get from the Marvel movies. in the game, it’s also the least interesting level in my opinion and the various superpowers of characters aren’t really showcased well enough.
Fé: “The girl pick up a car, daddy! An. Entire. Car!” That’s pretty super to me…”
What was interesting here was that we do get a final boss kind of experience at some point, when we’re fighting the giant robot. And I also really liked the part where we were sliding around on platforms made by Frozone (the most interesting character in the movie if you ask me) but the rest of the world looked kind of bland, especially compared to the other worlds offered in Rush.
As unimpressed as I was at the Incredibles, that’s how much I could appreciate what they did to the world of Ratatouille. Again, I know I’m starting to sound like a broken record (or an ever-repeating voice track as is present in the game) but the sensation of scale is again what does it for me. There’s just something immensely satisfying to me walking around like a small rat in a giant kitchen or on the tables where giants are dining. The boss battle here is also very satisfying as we get to toss vegetables at chef Skinner
Fé: “Haha, yeah! We threw mommatoes at him and ourangoutangs!”
…Tomatoes and oranges, baby girl, but yes it was funny! It may just end up being my favourite world next to Finding Dory!
Lastly, we have the Cars world, where we’re tested by Mater and then have to take on two espionage missions. As you would expect: you’re racing through this level, but unlike Finding Dory, you can back up through parts to get other collectables. I was never a big fan of the movies as I found them to be too childish to my liking and the humour that I so enjoyed in other Pixar movies seemed to be lacking. It’s also my second least favourite world in the game but I did like the upgrades we got here
Fé: “yes! We get to fly! *wush!* …and boost! *psssssh* and even shoot rockets! *Boom!*
For small kids this was the most difficult to control though, as Fé had to both press the RT to accelerate and the left analog stick to move around. Her young mind can’t really get around to doing both tasks at the same time yet (Fé: “Hey!”) – Well it’s true ^^
While the game may be overwhelmingly easy at times, it’s perfectly tuned for its target audience and a welcome stress-reliever for adults. It’s the perfect game to play alongside your children or to teach them how to play games as you can cooperatively get through the level, giving them a helping hand. The GORGEOUS Visuals have to be seen on a 4K/HDR screen to be believed and you’ll feel as if you’re truly a part of the Pixar worlds so credibly brought to life. Don’t skip on this game if you or your children are Pixar fans!