The lights are on
I'll be honest: I wasn't that enthusiastic about Kinect Sports when it was announced. Like a lot of people, I saw it as a me-too version of Wii Sports, right down to its name. After playing of a few of its games, I'll admit I may have been too harsh initially.
The hurdles game isn't particularly interesting, though it does what it sets out to do. Maybe other people like running in place and jumping more than I do. It's certainly more fun going head to head with another player, as I did, but running in place and jumping isn't going to make my list of favorite activities anytime soon.
The bowling game, on the other hand, was really fantastic. I've played a lot of Wii Bowling in my time, and I was skeptical when I saw Rare's version for the first time. Rare says that they decided from the outset that if they couldn't succeed in making a bowling game without all the button-pressing setup that Nintendo's version had, they wouldn't do it. Wii Bowling is a lot of fun, but having to move your bowler's position and spin with the d pad is a tough concept for some people to understand. (Cut my parents some slack--they're old!) In Kinect Sports, bowling is simple. Reach over to grab the ball and you're set. Moving your body left and right shifts your bowler's placement on the lane. Adjusting your arm changes where the ball will go, represented by highlighting the darts on the alley. There's no button to push to release the ball. Just make a bowling motion and you're set. If you use spin on the make-believe ball, Kinect can detect it and replicate it on-screen. It's pretty amazing, actually.
You can even do dumb things like throw the ball overhand, which puts a temporary crack on the lane. If you want to bowl like a little kid (or someone who thinks they're hilarious), you can bowl with both hands, granny style.
We didn't get to play any of the other games, such as boxing, table tennis, soccer, volleyball, or track and field. Even if they're all terrible, I suspect that I won't be alone in sticking with bowling and being perfectly content.
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