Tagged: Kinect

Now Playing: Rhythm Party (Xbox 360 Kinect)

As a Kinect launch title Dance Central was neat but the more I played it I realized that it’s not a dancing game at all, it’s a dancing instructor. You do exactly the motion that is asked of you and are penalized for any creative flair you may add. While this could legitimately make you a good dancer it’s not what I want out of a dancing game. Games are about living out fantasies and when I’m in front of a camera, about to perform for a video game I’m already a really good dancer. Rhythm Party embraces this delusion by not demanding anything too specific of its players and for that I’ve come to cherish it.

Essentially it’s the Easy Mode from Konami’s Kinect title, DanceMasters, extruded out into a full game. There are no 3D dancers to mimic, your goal is to make sure some body part hits the circular targets that appear around your in-game visage in time with the music. Along with simply hitting the markers on screen you’ll occasionally have to hold on one for a few seconds or make directional swipes when a series of arrows appear.

While that’s all it takes to move through Rhythm Party’s meager playlist and unlock higher difficulties the game is tracking (and scoring) much more of your movement. Stepping around the play space, jumping, spinning, posing and more are all tracked with optional in-game challenges to hit a certain number of those moves in a song. Hitting consecutive targets and throwing in extra moves builds up a score multiplier while “special effect” moments add bonus points and unexpected costumes over your in-game self. Suddenly you’ll be dancing around with a pair of fairy wings on your back or encased in an Iron Giant style robot suit. Each song has its own special effect that matches the style of its well-animated background and is honestly, usually, quite silly.

Silly is the best way to describe Rhythm Party and that’s not meant to be condescending. Though there’s depth to be found in the scoring and motion tracking, it’s really an excuse to dance around to music and watch crazy things happen on the screen. That frivolity makes it all the more disappointing that there’s no multiplayer mode at all. Even a take-a-turn high score competition would’ve been enough but at the least it’s easy to restart a song and swap places.

Where Rhythm Party feels the most thin is in its playlist. For the regular price of $10 you get ten songs: 3 short cut U.S. pop tracks from the Village People, Bobby Brown, and Lady Gaga, 1 kid tune, 2 that feature Vanilla Ice and 4 that would sound at home in DDR. I have come to enjoy all of them (except YMCA) but it’s very much up to personal taste if you feel like you got ripped off. You can also spend up to an extra $12 to add 12 more songs through DLC but most of those are from the same artists here and there’s no official way to preview them without buying.

Rhythm Party isn’t deep or technical or even very challenging. It’s got a bare-bones set of features and songs. It doesn’t even make it easy to play with friends which you’d expect from a game with “Party” in its title. Somehow, though, it transcends all those quibbles for me by enabling my delusions for short bursts of silly dancing — I mean, really good dancing! You can spend more on DLC but for ten dollars I can’t think of a Kinect game that’s made me as happy as Rhythm Party.

This review was originally posted at PEGreviews.com which is currently on hiatus

Hulk Hogan pre-order bonus limp like 60 year old Wrestler

I’m normally not one to post about pre-order bonuses (anymore) but this one jumped out at me this morning for how incredibly bad it is. Anyone excited enough about Hulk Hogan’s Main Event to pre-order the Kinect title surely expects — and rightfully deserves — a better t-shirt than this. I mean, half of the guy’s shtick was that pre-ripped yellow shirt that he would violently escape from like it was his opponent. Can you imagine how many of those shirts are out there right now, saturated in body oil, beer and sweat, refusing to decompose in a landfill? And here ya go fella, have a boring black shirt with a logo hastily sprayed on it. Such a missed opportunity: the game could even have prompted you with ‘Escape from Your Shirt to Begin‘! Groundbreaking stuff.

Not to be forgotten: A Kinect demo of Leedmees

See how long it’s been since I’ve done this writing thing? I totally forgot a whole other Kinect demo I played the other day and it’s not for the game’s presumed forgetability. Leedmees is exactly Lemmings-meets-Kinect. Not that any of us were growing up, pining for the far-flung future date when we’d be able to move clueless imbeciles around by leaning back and forth, but it’s an application of Kinect’s technology that hasn’t been focused on until now.

Really, there’s not much more to say. Like The Gunstringer, the action is dialed way back to account for any lag or flakiness of the Kinect sensor so nothing in the demo’s handful of stages was particularly challenging or rewarding. Neat describes it best, a pleasant use of the hardware with a decent art style carried out over what looks to be an appreciable number of levels with a two player co-op mode to boot. For $10 it doesn’t seem like a bad deal at all and I’ll keep it in mind for the next time I’ve got Points to spare and I’m in the mood for a puzzle game.

 

Hole in the Gunstringer: A few Kinect demo impressions

DisKINECTed for what feels like months now, I had one fleeting day recently where I felt well and able enough to plug the motion sensing black box in and try out some demos.

Hole in the Wall
Based on the American TV show (based on the superior Japanese original) Hole in the Wall takes the perfectly hilarious concept of contorting your body to fit through holes in a rapidly-approaching wall and manages to make it lame. It doesn’t take much effort to fill the various silhouettes with enough of your body to get a Perfect score and the shapes were quick to repeat, even in the demo. Your Avatar is also poured into a skintight silver body suit which, while accurate to the show, gives me the creeps.

If you simply must have a game where you play human Tetris, this is the one to settle for. It’s one of the rare $10 games these days and it’s at the ready as an Xbox Live Arcade download. Your only alternative is the similar minigame packed into Carnival Games: Monkey See, Monkey Do. It’s a little more fun than Hole in the Wall but the rest of that package is a slow-loading and annoying pain. Sad to say, Hole in the Wall is the lesser of two mediocre human Tetris evils.

 

The Gunstringer
Much ballyhoo has been bandied about around Twisted Pixel’s The Gunstringer. The team are notorious for insane FMV and quality humor and this game was once the fabled first downloadable title for Kinect. Now it’s a $40 retail release and even bundled with a free copy of Fruit Ninja Kinect the value seems to be more in the experience than in the playing. Ultimately, Youtube may be the best place to experience The Gunstringer’s inventive marionette Western world without the hassle of controlling it yourself.

That’s a bummer to this retro-loving heart of mine because I get a surprising Sega Saturn vibe from the demo. The colorful visuals and 2.5D platforming sections remind me of Clockwork Knight and the on-rails target-painting immediately feels like Panzer Dragoon. Only every shot, jump and “surprise” is telegraphed well in advance to account for any lag and to not grow overly exhausting. The mechanics worked well for me and, as advertised, you can even play sitting down but that only made me wish this were a faster, harder and controller-based homage to those early 3D games of the mid-90’s.

 

Best Buy ad puts faces to some Kinect names

It’s nothing I don’t expect to see in a few days from E3 in print-ready resolutions but here’s your first look at some upcoming Kinect game box art by way of Best Buy’s weekly circular. A whole page is dedicated to the peripheral with several games on sale for $40 and $30 with two rows of “coming soon” titles that Best Buy would love for you to pre-order. That’s where these little shots come in and you can browse it yourself if you’d like to see the publicly facing… faces for other titles like Child of Eden, Wipeout, UFC Trainer, and Michael Phelps: Push the Limit.