Six years ago, Microsoft pumped out some interesting Kinect-exclusive Xbox 360 games. But one thing held these games back: clunky Kinect controls. Now one of those exclusives is back, as Rush: A Disney-Pixar Adventure (still a terrible title). With levels based on six Pixar properties and Xbox Play Anywhere support, this is a great game for Disney fans – and it can finally be played with a controller!
Welcome to Pixar camp
Rush: A Disney-Pixar Adventure takes place at a Pixar-themed park, where kids can pretend to be part of their favorite Pixar movies. The park has six playground-ish areas devoted to specific Pixar franchises. It's populated by non-interactive kids who all look the same (other than hairstyles, and skin and clothing colors).
You can walk up to each movie's area and initiate the corresponding minigames, but that's it. Since the hub world doesn't serve any purpose besides establishing atmosphere, the time-saving option to select each game from a menu (as Disneyland Adventures offers) would have been nice.
Before you enter the park, you need to create a character. The part selection is unusually skimpy – you can select skin colors, but there's no pale skin option, for instance. And the models are a bit ugly, so your custom child probably won't look great when you're done.
Every time you select your character (custom or preset), the game runs through a montage of how the character will look in the different minigames: a superhero, car, rat, scout, and toy robot. The montage should really be skippable since it lasts for several seconds and never changes.
Six worlds to explore
Rush features six worlds based on the following Pixar franchises:
- Finding Dory.
- The Incredibles.
- Toy Story.
Each world has three levels (except for Finding Dory, which only has two), for a total of seventeen levels. Every movie's world is basically a tiny game based on that franchise, with gameplay tailored specifically to it. So Cars is an arcade-style racing game in which your car must first try out for Lightning McQueen's team and then take place in espionage-themed missions based on the second Cars film. The handling is a bit too fiddly, but it's still pretty fun little racer.
Finding Dory is brand new to the Xbox One and Windows 10 versions of Rush. Instead of playing as a custom character, you simply choose to play as either Nemo the fish or Squirt the sea turtle. This one has full 3D steering, with the right trigger accelerating forward as in the Cars levels. Swimming around underwater environments with control of all three axes might be too complex for small children, but older kids and adults will be fine.
The other movies' levels are primarily 3D platformers. You run, jump, swing from ropes, and more as you team up with NPCs and act out scenarios from each movie. In Up, the player and Russell get to chase after Carl's house, escape from Muntz's zeppelin, and more. The Incredibles has you teaming up with Violet to avoid nasty hazards, rescue Mirage, and battle a spider-like Omnidroid. Toy Story involves helping Woody rescue the porcupine toy nobody cares about from Al (the guy in the chicken suit from Toy Story 2). And you rescue a rat in jar and paddle through a sewer in Ratatouille.
The fact that Rush's levels aren't just minigames is its greatest strength. Instead of just doing movie-ish things like in Disneyland Adventures (which also just came to Xbox One and is great), these levels feel like proper adaptations of the movies. Their atmospheres are perfectly captured with beautiful graphics, spot-on sound (mostly using the real movie voice actors), and great level design. Because there are only three levels per film, none of them wears out its welcome – you can have a blast even if you don't care about the rat movie or Larry the Cable Guy pretending to be a mentally-handicapped truck (instead of a mentally-handicapped comedian).
Each level has a fair bit of replay value, too. The points you earn from collecting coins and completion time at the end of the level fill up a reward meter for that level. You'll unlock secondary objectives (such as trapping Muntz's dogs in Up), new moves, and new helper characters from the films. These open up different areas, a la Metroid, and increase scoring potential, so you can finally achieve Gold and Platinum medals. Each level also hides four hidden collectibles that unlock the ability to play as characters from the films.
After selecting your character and save-file at the beginning, the game asks if anyone else would like to play. Rush supports two-player split-screen co-op in both the park and all movie-themed levels. The process of signing in a second Kinect player was terrible on Xbox 360, but all that frustration is eliminated here thanks to improved Kinect performance and especially the ability to just join in with a second controller. The second player can drop in or out at any time.
Bringing along a partner actually makes the game play a little differently, as most levels have one or more simple co-op puzzles. These tend to involve one player stepping on a switch so that the other can reach a new area or unlock a new path. They mostly enhance the co-op experience, especially now that you can play with a controller to avoid unintuitive motion controls.
Also on the plus side, if either player fails too many times or spends too much time in an area, the game gives you the option to skip to the next section. That came in handy when the game glitched in first Toy Story level and wouldn't let me complete an objective. With that one exception, Rush has been a smooth experience.
Better than ever on Xbox One and Windows 10
French developer Asobo Studio did a great job on the original Xbox 360 version of Rush (called Kinect Rush). It's great that Microsoft allowed the company to revisit Rush for Xbox One and Windows 10, adding proper physical controls, HDR, and native 4K support on Xbox One X.
Awkward movement controls always held the original game back, but now Rush plays great with a controller – and you can still use the Kinect if that's your thing. The sheer variety of franchises and gameplay make this a game that parents and Disney-loving gamers won't want to miss.
- Play levels based on six different Pixar film franchises.
- Two-player split-screen support makes this a great game to play with kids.
- You can play with either physical or motion controls.
- The hub world serves no purpose beyond level selection.
- Voice samples often become repetitive during gameplay.
- Platforming feels a bit simplistic when using a controller.
Rush: A Disney-Pixar Adventure costs $29.99 on Xbox One and Windows 10. It's an Xbox Play Anywhere title, so progress and purchases on the downloadable Xbox and Windows 10 versions carry over between those two platforms.
Xbox One review copy provided by the publisher.
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