So my brother Deji, bought the Xbox Kinect around the beginning of December. So far we only have a few games, Kinect Sports which is similar to Wii sports – you can bowl, run track, long jump, and play a few other olympic sports. Dance Central, a DDR (Dance dance revolution) replica. and Kinect Adventures, a game similar to… Well it’s like nothing I’ve ever played before. Not to say that it’s amazing, just to say that it’s unique. So far I’ve played all of them at least once, but this article isn’t so much about games for the Kinect, but more about the Kinect itself.
My brother and I both started playing with the usual expectations – some clunkiness in the motion detection, some limits to the range of motions, and yes, we expected that we would have to adapt our movement to compensate for whatever limitations we encountered. What we didn’t expect, was that our expectations, would be what was limiting our gameplay.
This became apparent during an obstacle course adventure in Kinect Adventures where you have to collect coins while dodging on-coming obstacles. A collection of coins had been appearing in a star-arrangement, and I had been so far unsuccessful in collecting them all with just my hands. That’s when I looked over and saw Deji, arms and legs splayed in an “X” and then subsequently in something of a “T”, thus forming his star and collecting all the coins. I remember shouting, “that’s cheating!” and then subsequently cursing myself for not thinking of it first.
From then on, each of the games became that much more interesting as we experimented with the things we could and could not do. In most cases, what we tried worked because you see the Kinect is a 3D camera. So every aspect of your body’s position is detected – you really do become a full body controller.
Now, like every technology, the Kinect does have it’s limitations, and if you do a Google search for “Kinect specs” like I did when writing this article, that’s probably all you’re gonna read about. Only two people can play at a time, you must be within so many feet of the camera, the speed at which motion data is transmitted means you can expect lag for any hardcore game… e.t.c, e.t.c, ad nauseum.
From what I’ve seen, the people who buy Wii’s are those who want a party game – not only in the sense of multi-player madness, but more in the sense that you can play something with a friend and they would require no skill to enjoy it. As far as multiplayer madness goes, it’s not often that you have more than 2 or 3 friends over who all want to play at the same time, and even if it was, I highly doubt that (whether the Kinect’s field of view was large enough or not) more than 3 or 4 people would be able to play safely using their whole body in an average sized parlor. As for the lag issue, all it means is that the Kinect will likely appeal to the same Market as the Wii. You either want full-body control for 2 players in tandem or hand control for more than 2. And if you want hardcore gaming as well, then you should probably look at the Playstation Move instead.
That said, if you decide to get a Kinect, you should know that being a controller is hard work. Jumping, running, and flailing your arms and legs about are physically taxing even if it is on the same spot. To say it succinctly:
On the Kinect, a few hours a day will definitely keep the flab away, and possibly the doctor too.
Both Deji and Martha had to skip the gym whenever we played together, and as for me, let’s just say I slept very well. So that’s it for my initial review of the Kinect, perhaps I’ll have more to say next month.