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Friday, 23 Feb 2018

Kinect Adventures

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The New Kinect Adventures

Just when I thought I was safe from the dreaded minigame collection, Microsoft makes one and tosses it in the box along with Kinect. Minigame collections seem to go hand-in-hand with this generation's gesture-happy consoles, all of which are trying to capture some of the diverse audience that loved Nintendo's Wii Sports. So what makes Kinect Adventures different? Goofiness, plain and simple. Kinect Adventures fully embraces the fact that people (like me) look ridiculous while playing motion-sensing games; the game even takes pictures of you in incredibly awkward poses. No one looks "cool" waving their arms around or shaking their hips in front of the TV, but that doesn't mean the experience isn't fun. In Kinect Adventures, you play through a series of minigames across four different difficulty levels. What sets this collection apart from others is that the games require you to use your entire body, not just your arms or your feet.

One of Kinect Adventures' more standard sounding games involves hitting balls to destroy blocks: you're given a time limit to smash all the blocks at the end of a corridor, and the number of balls you have increases when you hit special blocks. It's kind of like racquetball mixed with Breakout. You need fast reflexes and dexterity in order to return the fast-flying projectiles, and soon enough I found myself jumping back and forth across the screen, stretching my arms and legs outward like a crazed starfish to try and hit as many balls as possible.

For something a little different (and slightly more sinister sounding), another game sticks you in a glass box under water. Fish, and occasionally sharks, swim by and ram the glass, causing cracks to appear; you then have to maneuver your body to plug the leaks. This is a great example of how wacky Kinect Adventures can be, since you'll eventually have to contort your body into odd positions. The Kinect's camera also picks up depth, so some leaks that spring up from below require you to step toward and away from the camera in order to stop them all.

In all of Kinect Adventures' activities, a friend can join in at any time without forcing you to pause and cycle through any tedious menus; the game automatically detects when somone's standing next you and just drops them into your current game. And I whole-heartedly recommend trying multiplayer -- most of the fun I had was playing through these games with a buddy. The rafting levels definitely got the most activity out of us: the both of you must use your bodies to steer a raft down a river obstacle course. Leaning and jumping move your craft horizontally and vertically, and you really have to work together in order to score the most points.

Although the game doesn't have a "workout mode," I definitely built up a sweat. The rotating objectives in each minigame force you to constantly change-up your strategies, which keep things from ever feeling static. It's like a lightweight version of the popular P90X workout: just when your body gets used to doing one motion, the game switches and you're suddenly doing something completely different. You're also rewarded for completing each "adventure" with stuff for your avatar and "live statues," which let you record voice and movements and share them with other Kinect Adventures players.

With all of this craziness and flailing about, you might wonder: "How much room do I need?" Turns out, you need a lot. And that's the unfortunate thing about this game, and indeed, the entire Kinect experience; you'll need a minimum of about six feet between you and the television, although Microsoft recommends 10. Those with tiny apartments or small living spaces in general may have to consider Feng Shui-ing their living space to make ample room for playing. Kinect Adventures does help you a little during calibration by showing you a diagram of the most ideal place to stand so that the sensor can pick you up. The game also comes with a card featuring a smiley-looking face that's supposed to help you calibrate the sensor for optimum use within your playing area.

Even after calibrating with the smiley-face card thing, another issue arose: sensor placement. The camera automatically picks up what's in front of it and focuses on a single primary person, but when transferring Kinect from 1UP's fancy demo room to my more modest living room, I tried placing the sensor on the floor instead of on the stand with the TV. For some reason, the game has a more difficult time tracking people from this position. Jumps wouldn't register, a single step to the left or right would cause my character to flail around madly, and often a warning would pop up telling me I was too close or too far from the sensor when I'd barely moved. Placing the Kinect sensor above the floor, level with the bottom of your television, is absolutely necessary.

As a pack-in game, Kinect Adventures does a lot of things right: it shows off what the hardware is capable of, it's free (technically), and most importantly, it's actually a lot of fun. Unfortunately, it also highlights some of Kinect's weaknesses, namely the lag and occasional calibration issues. Still, the game definitely works, in that your movements are translated in an almost one-to-one ratio, and it makes me all the more curious to see what developers come up with in the non-minigame variety.

Original article can be found here

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