- Platforms: Xbox 360 (Kinect Required)
- Developer: Good Science Studio
- Publisher: Microsoft Game Studios
The Wii has Wii Sports. Playstation Move has Sports Champions. Microsoft, however, has sneakily marketed Kinect's sports package as a standalone product and bundled a series of wacky minigames along with the sensor. Chances are that you'll snag Kinect Adventures as part of a bundle deal- but if you happen to be in the market, you'll be delighted to know that it doesn't disappoint.
Kinect Adventures contains five minigames that can be played solo or with two players. Rather than messing about with the usual 'menu hero' procedure, you'll only need to walk into Kinect's field of to be recognised, and will be assigned the correct avatar (or Xbox Live profile) if they've taken the time to register with Kinect ID. Online multiplayer is also included, which is absent from both Wii Sports and Sports Champions.
Lag? What lag? Kinect Adventures is as responsive as we'd hoped for. Rather than the recognisable gestures and buttons that most motion-controlled titles have to rely on, Kinect provides true 1:1 input. Need to move your avatar's left arm to the left? Then move your arm. The experience is years ahead of absolutely everything else on the market in terms of pure accessibility... though it will naturally require a lot of space. A mandatory calibration sequence requires players to sit through an lengthy and overblown introduction every time the game boots up... which is especially galling when the conditions and furniture placement haven't changed between sessions.
In terms of graphics, Kinect Adventures is functional without being particularly impressive. The Unreal Engine provides a few decent textures and particle effects, distinguishing interactive objects from backgrounds without being particularly pretty. Audio remains on the ambient side of annoying, though the kid-friendly too cool for school vibe will start to grate on mature gamers after extended sessions.
Kinect Adventures packs three main game modes: Adventure, Free Play and Time Trials. The annoyingly radical Adventure Mode is a singleplayer campaign that's surprisingly satisfying for individual sessions; partly due to the endorphins that exercise induces, and partly due to a selection of nifty avatar awards. Time trials do exactly what they say on the tin and Free Play allows us to cherry pick individual levels. It's the default option for a reason, folks.
Without further ado, here are the five minigames that will be taking up your time this holiday season...
The best way to describe 20,000 Leaks is Twister in 3D space. Standing in a virtual glass cage several leagues under the sea, you'll have to use your arms, feet and head to plug leaks by simply moving them to the right positions. It's a relatively shallow (sorry) experience that soon becomes repetitive, though having to simultaneously plug up cracks with crazy contortions will provide onlookers with plenty of schadenfreude. Lots of fun in multiplayer.
Mark my words: Rally Ball will become a firm favourite this holiday season. Formerly known as Ricochet, this minigame is essentially squash without a racket. Using their entire body as a bat, players will smash though targets and engage in crazy gymnastics to keep the balls in play! Judging distance (and hence when to swing) little time to get used to. Multiplayer is especially hectic, though light injury due to flailing limbs is a clear and present danger in smaller rooms. But worth it.
Reflex Ridge is an obstacle course that challenges players to duck, jump and sidestep their way through oncoming hurdles. Since Kinect tracks players in 3D space, you can actually duck and walk at the same time or jump in a direction to clear barriers. It's infinitely more versatile than Kinect Sports' hurdles minigame, though with only 3 types of obstacle, there isn't a huge amount of content.
This is probably the strongest minigame of the bunch simply because it feels the most like a full retail title. You'll control an inflatable raft through treacherous rapids, taking advantage of secret routes, shortcuts and even boating along the clouds. It feels like a slightly less competitive Hydro Thunder- and we hope that more arcade racers take advantage of this simple control scheme.
This is easily the weakest of the collection- though it's fantastic in theory and works surprisingly well. Tasked with popping bubbles in a zero-G environment, players will need to flap their arms to gain altitude and run around the play space like a headless chicken. Unfortunately there simply isn't much to it- and the sheer amount of frantic flapping makes multiplayer nothing short of dangerous.
- It's great fun! Job done.
- Responsive, lag-free, great multiplayer
- Shows off Kinect's capabilities to advantage
- Aggravating mandatory calibration and setup
- Too cool for school. Ugh.
- You'll probably need another game or two before long...
The Short Version: Kinect Adventures is a capable selection of minigames that will tide you over for a while and provide raucous fun for players of any age. If you snagged it wth the sensor bundle, the minigames will provide you with plenty of fun and more than enough content to show off your shiny new peripheral. However, the experience is a jumping off point rather than a comprehensive collection- so it will essentially buy you some time to research and bulk out your game collection.