Time to move your body.
Gone now are the days that the motion controlled mini game compilation can only be found on the family-friendly Wii console. With the launch of PlayStation Move and now Kinect, I would imagine that these types of games will be popping up across all of the major platforms, attempting to coax the usually game-shy from the couch and have them leaping about like loons. Should you love these types of game, or utterly loathe them, if you have picked up the Kinect unit in the last week, then you will be the lucky owner of one such compilation, Kinect Adventures.
So the game is free. Does that automatically mean it is going to be rubbish? Well, I am a firm believer that anything free is good by default, unless it causes me harm. But the reality is that Kinect Adventures is not actually a bad game, if you don’t mind the whole motion control mini game compilation thing.
One thing that the game does incredibly well, which is possibly the games main purpose, is show off the capabilities of your spanky new Kinect unit. It will also give you a good idea of how much space is actually needed, compared to how much space you thought you would need. Contrary to what I have actually heard other people say, I found that Kinect Adventures was one of the more forgiving Kinect games when it came to space. If you are playing it with the bare minimum they recommend, like I was, then you will get warnings on screen asking you to step back. However, I have found that some other games, using exactly the same configuration, have basically just refused to work, or resulted in my on-screen persona doing some kind of bizarre ragdoll dance.
Anyway, the point with Kinect over the other motion control methods out there is that it is full body motion control, meaning that the player is expected to use their entire body to play the game. Not all games for Kinect require use of the whole body, but Kinect Adventures is one of the games that does. So expect to get moving and don’t be surprised if you ache in the morning. Some of the muscles you will use may not have been used in a very long time.
As with most mini game compilations, the player can choose to play the mini games individually, or have them all loosely joined together in a career type mode. The game can be played alone or, where most of the fun is, with another player. Kinect will detect if another player is standing next to you and drop them straight into the game, without any faffing about with menus or whatever, ensuring that the fun doesn’t need to stop. Through the career mode of sorts, the player will have the chance to try out the different mini games at different difficulty levels in an attempt to unlock “living statues” and rewards for their avatar. The living statues are trophies of sorts that can have sound and movement added to them, which can then be shared amongst other players.
So, what about the five mini-games? Calm down, I’m getting there.
First up we have the game that most people likely saw during the build-up to the Kinect release. It involves basically using your body parts to bounce a ball against a wall of blocks, with each block hit being destroyed and the target being to destroy all of the blocks. The game ups the adrenalin as the player is working against a time limit and then makes things even more frantic when special blocks are hit and the ball is multiplied. It is not long until the player is leaping around with arms and legs flailing all over the place, trying to hit all of the balls and looking delightfully ridiculous doing it.
Then we have the sinister “20,000 Leaks” game which involves the player being placed into a glass box beneath the sea. As if this isn’t bad enough, the local sea life decide they don’t want you there and start hitting the glass, causing cracks and leaks which the player must then plug with their limbs. Again, this gets quite frantic when the player is dealing with multiple leaks at the same time. The game feels like the kind of trial that would be on “I’m a celebrity, get me out of here” combined with an extreme game of Twister.
Third up we have a game that sees the player standing on a wheeled platform that moves along a multi layered train track. The player will find themselves moving quickly from left to right and ducking or jumping over bars that swing across the track, all the while trying to collect as many of the floating tokens as possible. A lot of craziness in this one, with a nice sense of speed as long as the player keeps jumping. Don’t expect to keep any dignity whilst playing this mini game.
The raft race game is a lot of fun and involves heading along some rapids in a rubber dinghy, moving from side to side for steering and occasionally jumping to launch the dinghy in the air. Again the tokens need to be collected. If you can imagine, playing this game with a friend requires some serious teamwork, and will provide the opportunity for lots of good natured screaming.
The final game involves the player entering what is a gravity free room and popping the bubbles that float in the air. The player is able to float up by flapping their arms and sink again by holding their arms flat at their sides. All of the popped bubbles are translated to points. This particular game makes good use of the Kinect’s ability to sense depth, having the player move not only from left to right and up and down, but also forward and backward, emphasising the need for ample space.
All of the games, and indeed the parts in between, are bright, colourful and provide that “good wholesome fun for all of the family” type vibe. It doesn’t take itself too seriously, and neither should the player. At random points during the game, snapshots will be taken of the player in the most awkward of positions. These pictures are displayed afterwards for the player and anyone else in the room to laugh at. The player can, if they are particularly brave, upload the pictures to kinectshare.com and then use them on social networking sites and such.
Well, the games are fun, some more than others, and provide a really good laugh if playing with others. I can’t really see that there is enough here to keep the player entertained for long, but such is the way with these types of games. After the initial excitement, the game will be relegated to the shelf until relatives come around and you want to show off your tech. But the game is offered for free with the hardware and even a couple of hours of free fun is better than nothing. All things considered, it’s a pretty good introduction to Kinect.