The lights are on
On the eve of what’s coming next for Microsoft and the Xbox on Tuesday, May 21, we reflect on one of 360’s experiments: the Kinect. It’s debatable whether it was a successful or not. Finding items for this list wasn’t easy once you got past the few greatest hits, but it currently holds the record as the world's fastest-selling consumer electronics device of all time. Gamers snapped it up right away, but developers still haven’t figured out what to do with it.
Dance Central 1, 2, and 3 – If you were smart, when you picked up a Kinect at its 2010 launch, you also scooped up a copy of Dance Central. Other dance games are available for the peripheral, but Dance Central tops them easily with the best soundtrack, cross compatibility between sequels, and Harmonix’s special level of polish. The concept wouldn’t work without the Kinect, and encourages even the most timid non-dancers to get up and at least give it a shot. It’s the Kinect's killer app, and you can’t go wrong with any of these three games.
Gunstringer – Once we get past Dance Central, we get into the flawed, but interesting experiences. Gunstringer comes from the comedic minds of Twisted Pixel, the developer behind games like ‘Splosion Man and its sequel, Ms. ‘Splosion Man. The funny premise is laced with hilarious dialogue, and it’s not overly complicated. Unfortunately, fighting with the Kinect offers the same frustrations as fighting its toughest enemies.
Child of Eden – The spiritual successor to Rez, Child of Eden offers an abstract body-controlled experience that brings together rhythm and shooting in a way that will overload your senses. Using your hands to control your two reticules, you lock-on and fire at enemies. You can play with a controller, but the Kinect offers an advantage.
Double Fine Happy Action Theatre and Kinect Party – Happy Action Theatre and its sequel, Kinect Party, both from developer Double Fine, aren’t exactly video games. They are more like highly entertaining technology experiments that take full advantage of the Kinect's abilities. There's interactive environments, weird costumes, and heavy dose of Double Fine’s brand of humor, which you can never have too much.
Kung-Fu High Impact – King-Fu High Impact takes the player and shrinks them down into a two-dimensional world where your untrained karate chops and kicks translate into impressive butt-kicking on screen. Between combat, the Kinect requests poses from the player and inserts their image into a ridiculous comic-book story. The ridiculous and hilarious premise is best played with friends.
Sesame Street: Once Upon a Monster – Another Double Fine Kinect creation, Once Upon a Monster is geared towards children, and places you in a world where you interact with Sesame Street’s colorful and furry cast. Interacting with the game is simple for the sake of child engagement, and it doesn’t penalize you when the Kinect isn’t being cooperative.
Wreckateer – It’s not without its flaws, nor is it particularly innovative, but Wreckateer deserves a spot on this list because it is an enjoyable experience. Throwing rocks at virtual collapsing buildings is fun, and when you can do it with your whole body, it makes the experience that more interesting. It’s light on physical exertion, and gives you a good sense of loading and firing a ballista – something we all wish to get a chance to do in real life.
Fruit Ninja – Fruit Ninja is a huge mobile success story. The controls and rules are easy to grasp, and just about everyone has it on their phone. Taking it to Kinect may not be the best way to play (the touchscreen is definitely superior), but as a way to re-experience the familiar fruit-chopping phenomenon, it’s a nifty experience. Wildly gesticulating your way through a barrage of fruit is fun, and if someone is there to laugh at you, it makes it all the better.
Kinect Adventures – Pack-in games, especially ones included with new technology, should show off what your new technology can do. In this regard, Kinect Adventures is successful. The experience isn't deep, and you can see just about everything the game has to offer in a few hours, but learning about the Kinect is fun.
Other Kinect games
If you were wondering why games like Hulk Hogan's Main Event, Kinect Nat Geo TV, Top Hand Rodeo Tour, Fable: The Journey, Kinect Star Wars, and Blackwater weren’t included here, it’s because they are all terrible.
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