Post-mortem Xbox game review
I thought about trying to review the Kinect sensor itself, but I think you already know whether or not you want to buy this peculiar device. A divisive machine to be certain, anyone that has heard about the Kinect for a great length of time has long since formed an opinion, so you don’t need mine. If your idea of fun involves having friends and family over and playing lighthearted entertainment for laughs while getting high on life, you want the sensor. If your idea of fun involves sniping off Middle Eastern terrorists, proclaiming racial epitaphs on a headset while high on something besides life, you don’t want the Kinect. If you can’t be arsed to move the coffee table in front of your television, you don’t want the Kinect, but I recommend a gym membership. And if you don’t have a coffee table to move, let alone a television, Xbox, living room or house, well I recommend the Salvation Army over the Kinect.
Kinect Adventures is the pack-in title with the sensor, and the game that proves all this newfangled motion-sensing technology works. It’s a series of mini-games that grabs your full-body movements and makes you move in spastic, often unpleasant ways. There’s some peppy, annoying boy scouts/meets animal crackers-theme of a group of adventurers looking for treasure overbearing the game, and it seems that their means of finding treasure is to replay the exact same five mini-games over and over. I personally hate these treasure seekers, if just because they forced my avatar to take off his TV head and supersuit.
So you’ll replay five mini-games over and over again to earn badges and unlock weird trophies. Such trophies include Achievements (yes, this game treasures your gamerscore), avatar clothes to not wear unless you want your avatar to be a 20-something year old boy scout, and weird talking trophies that can recreate a vocal sample of your choosing. Ever want to see a furry critter recite some Wu-Tang lyrics? I sure as hell did.
The mini-games themselves are a mixed bag. “Duck and dodge wacky obstacles or else you’ll get pimpslapped” has you on an automated mine cart, physically avoiding obstacles by moving out of the way, and contorting your body in different positions to collect coins. This can be very amusing, although I think only Yao Ming or someone with great armspan can truly get a perfect score with the way some of the coins are spread out. Likewise “I’m on a boat, bitch!” has you on a raft, moving your body to steer your raft across a raging river with ramps to collect coins along the way. Since there are somewhat dynamic courses here, this mini-game stays interesting longer than most.
“Deflect balls with your balls” (I can’t verify if any of these are the real game names since my Xbox died) has you using your arms, legs, torso and (usually) head to deflect balls towards a series of bricks. It’s not the deepest of games but you’ll get a kick of someone dancing around like Yosemite Sam is unloading at their feet. From there, the games become less intriguing. “Plug your hole” involves moving your hands and feet to block holes in a glass tank. You’ll get to see someone assume somewhat awkward-but-not-too-awkward positions but the arbitrary nature of this game gets old fast. Like with the other games, the Kinect will take a bunch of snapshots of you acting a fool, and the ones taken of you covering leaks are the least foolish, if that amounts to anything. The worst mini-game of the bunch is “act like you’re in that fucking owl movie” where you have to flap your arms to float, drop them to sink, and try to collect all the orbs in the area. Besides being extensively shallow, the game treats “dropping your arms” like an additional flap, so you’ll get a quick jump in the air before actually dropping down to collect the orbs beneath you. So this is the one game where lack of responsiveness is an issue.
And that really is all that Kinect Adventures has to offer. The game certainly proves that the Kinect works and can be a barrel of great amusement. I felt like the Wii controller was too abstract an inaccurate for the tasks it would ask the player to accomplish; swinging that doohickey like a baseball bat didn’t always yield the result you would expect out of swinging a Louisville Slugger, for example. (Plus early adopters ran the risk of their remote smashing into their television.) What I’ve played of the Kinect so far, the motions involve physically recreating motions with your body, and people that accidentally crash through their television set probably deserve their fate. So the Kinect itself is a thumbs up. Kinect Adventures, on the other hand, will provide amusement for yourself and the party for about 30-60 minutes before being put away in favour of Dance Central.