Kinect Joy Ride
[The next game Spandas and Chris played was Kinect Joy Ride; a cutesy racing game with an emphasis on jumps and stunts. ("Navigate obstacles, drift through corners and launch off jumps to wow your opponents with mid-air acrobatics.") It's basically Mario Kart, but on Kinect.]
Chris: Hnngh! Turning corners is really hard in this game.
Spandas: I agree. The controls are way too sensitive.
Chris: Plus, it feels weird holding an invisible steering wheel, don't you think?
Spandas: Yes, totally! It's very unnatural. This game would really benefit from a wheel peripheral, like the one you get with Mario Kart Wii.
Chris: But wouldn't that defeat the purpose of Kinect?
Spandas: I guess so... Damn, missed the corner again!
Chris: It also feels strange standing up.
Spandas: Hey, why don't we try sitting down?
[Spandas and Chris sat on the ground for the remainder of the play session. The Kinect did a pretty good job of tracking their new positions, with no recalibration necessary. The pair played several more rounds — during which Spandas was consistently trounced.]
Chris: Owned once again! Hahahahahahaha!
Spandas: Dude, are you seriously gloating about beating me in a cutesy Kinect game? You're such a loser.
Chris: You're just annoyed because I'm the king of Kinect Joy Ride!
Spandas: Yes, yes, very impressive. So what are your closing thoughts on the game?
Chris: I think it has the potential to be fun, but the controls kind of let it down. It's definitely better than Kinect Adventures though.
Spandas: Getting a tooth removed is better than Kinect Adventures.
[Next up was Kinect Sports; a party game clearly influenced by Nintendo's Wii Sports series. ("Bring out your potential as sporting legends… No controller required — your body is all you need.") Chris and Spandas tried out a few games in each sports category, consisting Soccer, Bowling, Track & Field, Boxing, Beach Volleyball and Table Tennis.]
Chris: Wow, it's really like Wii Sports, isn't it?
Spandas:: Even the sound effects are the same.
Chris: Except they've added an obnoxious ADD veneer to proceedings.
Spandas: Yeah, that commentator is a bit overexcited, isn't he? It's just Kinect Sports, dude! Settle down!
Chris: This soccer game is pretty fun. The kicking mechanic adds something fresh that the Wii and PlayStation Move lack.
Spandas: Yeah, but it's not much more than a fun diversion, is it? I mean, I can't see myself returning to this penalty shootout game again and again.
Chris: Agreed. It does give a good indication of the system's gameplay potential though. You get to kick stuff. I'm sold.
[The pair then tried a match of table tennis.]
Spandas: Hmm. The controls feel kinda vague. I think I'm still getting used to this 'no controller' thing.
Chris: I'm having the same problem I had with Kinect Joy Ride — I feel like I need something in my hand to hit the ball with.
Spandas: Like a Wii remote?
Chris: Exactly. The lack of any peripheral of any kind makes it harder to gauge shots. There's no real sense of motion or direction.
Spandas: It's no Wii Sports, that's for sure. But families with young kids will probably get a kick out of it. See what I did there?
Chris: Oh dear.
[The last game Chris and Spandas tried out was Harmonix's Dance Central; a full-body tracking rhythm/action game from the makers of Guitar Hero II and Rock Band. ("Take your moves to the next level in the first controller-free, body tracking, fully immersive dance video game.") Over 30 chart-topping songs are included on the disc.]
Chris: Do we really have to play this?
Spandas: Yes, and you are dancing to Lady Gaga. No compromise.
[For the following five minutes, Chris danced his heart out in front of the Kinect with the enthusiasm to rival Gaga herself. This culminated with him whipping out the ‘Monkey Spank’ during the freestyle section.]
Chris: I did alright.
Spandas: [Cowering in the corner] Please. Make it stop.
[After composing herself, Spandas stepped onto the makeshift dance floor to show her colleague how it's done.]
Chris: Tch. You're just trying to get me back for kicking your butt at Kinect Joy Ride.
Spandas: I really like this game! I can see myself playing it with my sister. Best Kinect game so far.
Chris: Mm, but how many gamers will share this sentiment? The average Xbox 360 owner isn't much for clubbing, I'd wager
Spandas: You just need to find some rhythm. Dance Central rocks!
Concluding thoughtsChris: In its present state, I think Kinect is a bit disappointing. The launch line-up comprises almost solely of fitness games and casual stuff for kids — and they're a pretty mixed bag at that.
Spandas: I agree. Where are some of the innovative titles that Microsoft originally promised, like the A.I. game Project Milo? I know Lionhead has subsequently denied it was ever intended to be a real game and Molyneux is notorious for his ‘the fish was 'this big’ claims — but something as revolutionary as Project Milo is exactly what the Kinect needs right now.
The whole 'controller-free' concept just doesn't gel that well either — especially in games that require you to 'hold' an invisible object.
Chris: I thought some of the games were fun, but I often felt hampered by the controls. If only Microsoft could come up with an alternative control scheme for these games — perhaps involving two directional sticks?
Spandas: And buttons as user inputs. They could have both sticks and buttons on the one controller.
Chris: That's crazy talk. But it would certainly be a lot more intuitive than Kinect.
Spandas: All in all, I wouldn't call Kinect a failure. But it certainly needs to do a bit more to win my affections. Apart from Dance Central, which is awesome.
Chris: Personally, my money would go towards the PlayStation Move. It offers a wider variety of game genres and is also more intuitive and user-friendly. That said, at least Microsoft is trying something new.
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