Disney at E3 and Other Video Games Update

e3 kinect demo A Kinect demo booth at this year’s E3

The E3 Video Game exhibition might be over now, but that doesn’t mean it’s time to stop talking about all we learned about upcoming video games. Put E3 up there for me with other conventions, like Comic Con and the D23 Expo, that I’d love to attend one day.

Disney didn’t dominate E3, as the company isn’t really known for putting out much more than thrown-together movie tie-in games. Titles like “Epic Mickey” and “Kingdom Hearts” are the exceptions to the rule, though the latter doesn’t quite count because it was a created by an unaffiliated Japanese company.

One Disney game announced at the Expo stands out. It’s ostensibly for kids, but it contains enough wish fulfillment for me (admittedly held over from my childhood) that I’m interested in playing.

“Kinect: Disneyland Adventures” will allow players to explore Walt’s original park handheld-controller-free. Just stand in front of your television and your physical movements will be echoed by your in-game avatar.

The Kinect software, also detailed at E3, is a sensor device mounted near the television that will interface with certain XBOX 360 games. I’m assuming that it’s only going to work with new games designed for the Kinect; you won’t be able to make the device interact with just any XBOX game.

Reporters from USA Today played a preview of the game (full access to a limited number of areas) and posted a sneak peek of it on the company’s website. “Kinect: Disneyland Adventures” is a full-bodied update of the NES “Adventure in the Magic Kingdom” game I played as a child. The entire acreage of the park has been accurately-rendered into the game.

Players wander through the park, meet Disney characters (complete with their proper voices), and play games based on Disney movies and park rides. Approach any of the 40-plus characters and you can get a hug, a photo opp (which you can then share online), or get them to sign your virtual autograph book.

Games scattered throughout the park range from classic puzzle-solvers to sword fighting duels. Because “Disneyland Adventures” was designed for kids there isn’t a particular “win-lose” aspect. Players can earn stars and other rewards, however, for high achievement.

Other Disney video game news surfaced recently, just a couple of weeks before E3. Remember those movie tie-in games I mentioned earlier? Soon customers will be able to purchase the two pieces of entertainment – one film, one video game – together.

Gaming website MCV details how Disney Interactive – the studio’s video game branch – has teamed with Disney Home Entertainment to release bundle movie and game packs. So far only three have been announced, and they’re only coming out in the United Kingdom for the moment.

One pack will contain “Tangled” and its accompanying Wii game, another the Wii’s “Cars Toon: Mater’s Tall Tales,” with the “Cars Toon” series and the first “Cars” movie, and the last the Disney Channel series “Phineas and Ferb” comes with its handheld Nintendo DS spinoff.

Disney will never stop making its silly slapdash tie-in games. But it’s clearly spending more time focusing on developing better video games as well, between the recent “Epic Mickey” and upcoming “Kinect: Disneyland Adventures.” I can’t wait until the day when I’m able to play a Disney game of “Kingdom Hearts” caliber, one that’s put out by the studio itself.

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*(This image by popculturegeek is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.5 License.)