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Kinect Disneyland Adventures (2011)
SPOILER - Take a stroll through Disneyland (Anaheim, CA)
I don't think there's anything to 'spoil' since everyone who can read knows what this game is all about, a Disneyland experience.
It's a beautiful game and my toddler loves watching me play (sadly, both my toddler and Kinect sensors are not yet ready for each other - hopefully technology and child interaction will synch in a few years).
The campaign is a little drawn out (pardon the pun) but I understand it's intended for single digit kids and Disney parents to enjoy. Walking through Disneyland is pretty amazing, especially for someone like me who group up in LA and spent too many to count days there. BUT, even with fast pass I'd prefer an option to point and sprint versus at best 'fast walking.' (BTW, whenever I bump into people I say excuse me since the toddler says 'oh no' or 'look out please.') The rides are pretty cool and more challenging than you think. That means you will get through them no matter what but for those of us who are into gamerscore, you will likely have to repeat a few levels.
Auto save works very well and you'll find yourself in the same spot when you return to the game.
One big knock for this game and certain other Kinect games ... AVATAR. I understand the technology forces simpler graphics but at the very least, in games like this one ... let me use my (her) avatar ... don't limit me to the generic gender + race + limited clothing option.
A bigger knock is the 'ride' experience. I get the whole 'inspired' by concept but the game mechanics themselves are pretty darn hard to control. In fact, Finding Nemo and Buzz Lightyear were two of the hardest in-game rides to maneuver through.
All that said, BUY THIS GAME - the kids love it - my little one actually hugs the TV to represent hugging the on screen characters and hops, jumps, dances, etc right alongside me (sometimes triggering the Kinect to recognize co-op but that's okay, slight delay).
I give it an 8 of 10, great value (hours and hours of entertainment and repeat playability). The park itself is a lot of fun to explore and is accurately laid out. The rides border on fun and frustrating but are all well executed and visually stimulating. As with many Kinect games movement and tracking could be a little smoother but that could be fixed with an 'ADULT TRACKING SETTING' so that hover selections are twice as fast, lateral movement is twice as fast, and I'd recommend a DLC update for a pop-up 'to do list' or voice-over reminder from Mickey every 10 minutes or so 'don't forget, I need you to take a picture of Donald.' etc ... Have fun and enjoy!
XBOX 360 version is very good
The complete saga is a nice blend of the two original games with several add-ons. Personally, I think they should have added quite a bit more new content but there's a decent amount such as the arcade, few replacement missions AND the ability to replay the original levels, plus some funny achievements like: crowd pleaser (kill jar jar 20 times) or shoot first (shoot greedo with solo), etc ... If you don't already have either or both of the first two games than this is a must buy.
Anyone who is a fan of the Star Wars series will be thrilled with the inside jokes and humor of the cinematics and very pleased with gameplay. The game itself is a good blend of shoot-em-up and strategic cautionary play - scalable to the user. In other words, little people can run amok shooting and jumping having fun but the mature gamers can go for achievements and carefully rack up studs.
I am hopeful that the creators will take advantage of XBOX live to create some new content for download. Cross your lightsabers.
A Year without a pointless Remake, please
When you watch the original claymation films it's always amazing how much visual impact and story they pack into a relatively short amount of time. This remake had nearly the opposite effect and had the viewer begging to reach the conclusion and put this nightmare behind them. Something tells me this will not be a 'classic' for the entire family to gather around and watch together - year after year.
Delta Burke is a beautiful woman with a gentle spirit and wonderful acting style so it's disappointing to see her grouped with the Zany antics of Carole King and the wanna be sympathetic John Goodman. It may just be me but Mrs. Claus' shy nature and quiet voice almost represented Delta being apologetic for her role in this movie.
The film retells the story of Santa's growing frustration with the commercialization of Christmas and the apparent apathy from children all over the world. Santa decides he's had enough and plans to skip Christmas altogether. Two elves and one reindeer leave the North Pole in search of one child who can sway Santa's heart and reverse his decision. Yada yada yada - eventually all the characters and pieces come together and bring the spirit of Christmas back to life.
This version lacks the charm and timeless wit from the original. The live actors appear to intentionally overact as their feeble attempt to capture the claymation's over-animation. The story has been 'updated' to incorporate a techno-saavy Claus and ELF incorporation - hahaha - wow, that's really clever (pause) NOT. The producers of this film would be smart to bundle the ensuing DVD with the original and offer some kind of bonus features in order to push the 2-pack. I can't imagine too many children or adults wanting to add this to their DVD collection. Next time, remake the little drummer boy - nobody liked that one too much anyway.
In ranking this film we should always start off with a 5 - neutral - then give it 2 pts for costume and effects for a 7, remove 1 point for being a remake for 6 pts and 2 more for remaking a classic, 4 pts, finally lose a point for being absolutely horrible for a 3 out of 10. Why the 3 pts you ask? Because this is so bad that any casual fan of the original claymation/puppet version must watch this for themselves in order to fully appreciate how truly bad this really is. I suppose a live action 'Great Pumpkin' is just around the corner, sad :(
Zuma Deluxe (2005)
Caution: time will slip away
Zuma is a challenging and somewhat addictive game based on blowing up combinations of same colored gems. From time to time you'll get a bonus gem with certain attributes like: change direction, freeze, explode, etc ... Think of Bejeweled - but the pieces are constantly moving towards a drain pipe.
Sometimes XBOX scares me with it's achievements. For ZUMA they have a 'played Zuma for 24hr' achievement - - but the scarier achievements are one for completing levels that are much higher than I've reached. It seems that some of the higher levels are based more on luck (getting the right gems at the right time) than it is about skill. Still, it's a very fun game for kids and adults alike.
I highly recommend adding this to your list of Arcade downloads.
Growing Up Gotti (2004)
Family Train Wreck
This show was a lot of fun to watch and will most likely be released as a DVD set with tons of 'uncensored' and 'bonus scenes.' As my quick summary points out, this show was about a family train wreck with a notorious Godfather's daughter at the controls. It was funny and sad to watch her struggle between maternal instincts and mafia whore sensibilities. Think of Elvis in his great comeback show from Hawaii when he was basically performing as a parody of himself - now watch as Vicki walks a fine line between loving mother and pistol packing, bitch slapping mafia wife. This show is at its best when it's unintentionally funny. You need to see it to believe it.