Kinect Adventures: itâs the Wii Sports of Microsoftâs new Xbox add-on. Well, I guess Kinect Sports is that as well, but Adventures actually comes packaged with the Kinect - much like the Wii and its premiere launch title. See? It works.
So how can you judge a game that you get for âfreeâ? Itâs probably best to think of Kinect Adventures as a showcase of what the Kinect is capable of, and judge it based on how well it gives players experiences that are new, original, andâŚ I donât know, futuristic? In this respect, it performs adequately, but pretty soon youâll be casting around for some launch titles with more meat on the bone.
There are five activity types in total that the whole package is based around, and as you might reasonably expect, some are better than others. Letâs go through them one by one, shall we?
River Rush is my favourite to play when someone else is around. The goal is simple: steer your inflatable raft through a twisting water-based obstacle course, collecting as many tokens as you can along the way. But hereâs the rub: in order to effectively steer and, er, jump, you need to perform synchronised actions with your fellow player. It makes the activity much more fun and frantic as you scream, âJump! Jump! Ju- Why didnât you jump?! I told you to JUMP! Okay, this timeâŚâ
Reflex Ridge has you standing on a moving cart-on-rails type device, moving along tracks that are peppered with annoying obstacles. Youâll need to quickly sidestep, duck under, and jump over various things in your path. Again, another player adds a further wrinkle, as youâre now racing to see who can make it to the end first â and with the most points. It never gets overly difficult, but is fun regardless.
Rallyball is calmer, having you move your arms and legs to bounce balls into a series of obstacles that need destroying. Itâs kind of like Breakout, only your body is the paddle. Hitting certain objects causes multiple balls to be put into play, forcing you to frantically adopt some nicely contorted body positions as the balls try to leave the play area.
20,000 Leaks and Space Pop are more subdued andâŚ well, more boring. The former has you plugging constantly appearing cracks in an underwater glass container, using your hands, feet, and even head to cover things up. While the leaks do start coming thick and fast, itâs not the most satisfying of mini-games. The final activity simply has you moving around a confined space to collect glowing orbs. Again, while it ramps up in difficulty, it doesnât excite in the same way as River Rush does.
So we have five different games, some better than others. If all the activities were up to the standard set by River Rush and Reflex Ridge, Iâd be heaping a lot more praise on Adventures, but that isnât the case.
You can tackle these activities in Free Play mode, or play through the more structured Adventure mode, which will take a good few hours to get through, and provides a few more twists to each activity. Along the way youâll constantly be collecting tokens, achieving ranks in each level, and acquiring cute/odd âliving petsâ that seem simultaneously pointless and fun.
As a packaged piece of entertainment designed to show off what the Kinect can do, Kinect Adventures succeeds. On the other hand, its limited range of activities also potentially shows what kind of genres the Kinect canât do; it will be very interesting to see if developers can move away from the kind of uses for the technology shown here.
Like Wii Sports, you will soon tire of the activities on display. Itâll remain a fun option to bust out at parties or when you have kids over, but itâs not a deep experience â at least, not for those who donât want to leap around like crazy for hours and hours on end. However, like Wii Sports, itâs all about hinting at potential and in this regard itâs hard to fault Kinect Adventures. I just hope that potential is realised, and not squandered on collection after collection of gimmicky, identical mini-games.