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i have never been to Disneyland and always assumed that i'd hate it if i did, so it was refreshing to have my instincts confirmed by Kinect Disneyland Adventures, which is now almost certainly as close to the experience as i will ever by free choice come. however, whilst i thought i'd dislike it because of all the twee sparkles, menacing, giant, wide-eyed Disney character-employees with their painted-on smiles and the gender-essentialist, plastic-crap paraphernalia i'd be put under pressure to leave with, what i actually discovered in this game, however, was in fact far more sinister.
i've always dismissed Disney talk of 'enchantment' as cutesy kiddy-rhetoric, but little did i realise that everyone who visits Disneyland or plays Disneyland Adventures enters a very murky world of dark magic and even darker exploits. first of all, regardless of who you are, in order to enter the magical kingdom, you must first become a child. this might seem harmless, but the process is designed to rob you of all critical faculties and make you ultimately trusting and pliable. it's as if the ghost of Michael Jackson is running things.
then you meet the residents. the Disney characters who live in the actual land, it turns out, are both evil and lazy, and, as such, force human children to be their slaves. as you wander around the apparently very accurately recreated virtual theme park, you cannot avoid bumping into these menaces and being dragged into their world.
first they steal your soul by forcing you to pose for essence-ensnaring photographs, then they bind you to their service by means of a curse which they scrawl out and insist that you carry on your person. once you are helplessly under their control, they order you to do their bidding.
you do not simply walk around Disneyland, rather, you must first raise your hand as a sign of feeble consent to the magical overlords. thereafter, you are pulled around the various realms by an invisible thread attached to a ring placed painfully through your right ear. in keeping with the clandestine nature of the Disney evil, this thread is imperceptible to others, but if they were to look closely, they would see your head turning slightly but clearly unnaturally towards the left as you are lead from area to area by the lughole.
covered with the thinnest of traditionally Disneyfied veneers.
you cannot control where you are going, but can only request to be pulled in one direction or another by thrusting your raised arm to that side of your body. this request may or may not be granted by the brutal fiend at the end of the invisible line. after not very long, your arm begins to ache. first it is a slight, dull pain, but as time and the endless slavery goes on, it rapidly becomes intensely uncomfortable. at one point i cried out in anguish "oh please overlord Walt, why can't i walk on my own, with my feet?!" -- but, alack, my cries went unanswered.
most of the characters I encountered had me steal for them -- Ariel, for example, was desperate for dinglehoppers (small drug forks) for unblocking her snarfblat (crack pipe), but some had darker demands. Buzz Lightyear required that i prove myself loyal by vandalising some security cameras, Duffy the Disney Bear (whoever he is) insisted I engage in an ethically dubious cloning experiment, Aladdin's genie had me stalk underage princesses and secretly photograph them, Princess Tiana involved me in a plot to cook a batch of poisoned gumbo, and Br'er Fox had me hunt down Br'er Rabbit for him, following some sort of encounter with Ss'er Fox. i then had to watch as "Br'er Fox's justice" was cruelly done.
all this sordidness is covered with the thinnest of traditionally Disneyfied veneers. everywhere you look people are smiling, dancing and Asian -- everything is as it should be. but we know different.
occasionally, normally just as i was beginning to lose all hope, i would get some time off from these nefarious 'quests'. i was never allowed rest -- "Uncle Walt's Warriors never nap!" -- but instead was allowed to take part in what were called 'Minnie-games'. we all loved Minnie -- she was kind to us. her games let us move our arms in different ways, which was a curious mix of pain and relief, and she spoke kindly to us. of course, we knew this was all part of the larger scheme.
kids will like this game.
while we did get to do different things during Minnie-games, like flying or river boat rowing, the pleasure was always mitigated by the fact that some strange magic was always at work to frustrate us -- we would try to steer the boat, but we'd end up attacking the air with the oar instead, or some other nonsense. although at first these breaks from the norm seemed like treats, in time i came to recognise them as the true evil. promising so much more than they could deliver, they were a strange and ingenious kind of torture.
then, after what in our world seemed like only a couple of hours, but had in Disney-time been many, cruel years, the spell was broken. immune to the dark poisons, my wife entered the room and asked if i could "go and put out the recycling". and... just like that, callooh! callay! oh frabjous day -- my mind became distracted and i was free.
SUMMARY: kids will like this game.
[if you'd like to see more of the weird and wonderful world of reallyquitetired then the door is always open at his semi-detached house/blog]
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