At Microsoft’s 2010 E3 press conference, a precious little girl took center stage to show off Kinectimals for the first time. The girl and her baby tiger, Skittles, showcased the depth of Kinect’s interactivity, as the cub responded to her every word and command. Though we scoffed at the ridiculous name and brushed it off as just another pet sim, Kinectimals proves to be far more than just an adorable, furry face. Frontier Developments has delivered an entertaining and lengthy adventure with a surprising amount of depth. Also, it’s really, really cute.
Kinectimals tells the story (yes, it has a story) of a kind and gentle pirate in search of a fantastic treasure. While living on the island of Lemuria, he recruited a few native cubs to help find fragments of a treasure map to lead him to his fortune. He never found the treasure, and now it’s up to you to embark on this quest with a variety of cubs to earn discovery points, complete challenges, and open new parts of the island to explore. As opposed to a series of static minigames, Kinectimals plays out like an early morning kid’s show, featuring a cute creature named Bumble and gorgeous cinematic presentation.
Each of the 30-plus challenges makes excellent use of the Kinect technology. You can feed, wash, and pet the cub with a few simple hand swipes. Playing games like volleyball or soccer with the cub or teaching it tricks also shows off the impressive gesture and voice recognition capabilities. The game almost always accurately recognized my commands, though there were a few minor hiccups with gesture-based cub training. These activities will earn players a few discovery points, but the most entertaining way to progress is through the challenges.
When moving to new areas, Kinectimals presents a minigame challenge for you to complete for a high score. Race an RC car around an obstacle-filled track, kick soccer balls to knock down different objects, shoot targets with a water gun – the list goes on. Though some of the challenges are repetitive, later challenges take familiar mechanics and ramp up the difficulty and complexity to keep things fresh.
With around 20 hours of gameplay, Kinectimals offers plenty to do. You can play with your cub, shop for new items, decorate your house with trinkets found on your adventure, complete challenges, have friends join in to beat your high scores, and more. If you’re looking for a rich gameplay experience jam packed with adorable creatures, look no further.