Strong Kinect-ion?: First Impressions of Microsoft’s New Motion-Control Camera

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Games:

Kinectimals:

Developed by the Rare studio, This first-party Microsoft game will almost certainly be the go-to hit for the pre-teen crowd. The game’s alike an HD version of Nintendogs. Players get a virtual pet to train and bond with, and Kinect allows you to reach out and touch it to prompt realistic reactions from the animal to petting, playing and gettingwashed . There’s a mild story about hunting down lost treasure on the remote island, but Kinectimals is really a collections of about half a dozen minigames. Voice commands worked well and the use of head-tracking to control the camera orientation was especially impressive. If you’re getting Kinect and have a kid in the house, expect to buy this game.

(More on Techland: Will Kinect Sales Hit The Mark Microsoft Set?)

Kinect Joy Ride:

If Kinectimals is the 360’s Nintendogs, then Kinect Joy Ride is Mario Kart by way of Kinect. This racing game takes care of all the accelerating and speed control and all players need to do is thrust hands forward to boost, twist their bodies to trick and pose during prompts to score points. Joy Ride works better than some other Kinect games but it simply feels too shallow to be a game sold for $49.99.

Dance Central:

Harmonix’s dance rhythm game does something unique: it takes the sheepishness that accompanies any kind of motion gaming and turns it into fun. Helped along by a great 32-song soundtrack, that feeling of goofy embarrassment you get with waving your arms around in the air goes away because you’re dancing. Breaking down choreography routines into bite-sized poses that you string together makes you feel like you’re actually working it. DC emits an infectious level of enjoyment that makes it the killer app for Kinect. Even though it’ll only read one dancer at a time, put it on at a party and everyone will become back-up dancers.

Sonic Free Riders:

Sega’s crass racing cash-in is the worst Kinect game I played. Its sense of speed feels fake and it fails a majority of the time when tracking anything requiring quick response times. like player jumps over obstacles. The hoverboard sequences look cool but, again, the game just flubs moments when you need to jump from one rail to another. Sonic deserves better.

Kinect Sports:

Coming from the Rare dev team, this title is Microsoft’s most blatant attempt to peel off people from Wii Sports. The assortment of athletic activities–beach volleyball, boxing, bowling, soccer and more– comes across as a mixed bag in terms of execution. Some of them, like serving and volleying in table tennis, require a level of precision that Kinect only meets inconsistently. Twitchy arm spasms during a volleyball match can lead to frustrating losses. The game’s input mechanics are so mysterious that you won’t know how to correct the bugginess.

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