This holiday season, we here at GamesEyeView have been watching the sales numbers roll in for Microsoft’s new Kinect motion controller. So we decided to take a look at a couple of the new Kinect games launched this fall and put them to the test. The first such game we decided to put through the paces was Kinectimals. Some might be thinking that Kinectimals looks like it’s primarily a kids game. It is. There’s a little more depth to this game then we’ve been led to believe so far, though. The game’s overall presentation is less like a simple collection of minigames and treated more like a show one might find on the Disney Channel in the mornings. This helps keep the players attention level up by keeping things fresh and new activities rolling in.
After arriving on the island of Lemuria, players will be given a choice of five cubs to adopt: Lion, Tiger, Cheetah, Leopard, or Black Panther. We picked the Tiger, and named him Hobbes (because we could). Once you’ve chosen your cub, you’re told the back story (yes, there’s a story) of a pirate who had made the island his home over 200 years ago. He had left on an adventure and never come back. It seems he had come to the island looking for treasure and was using the cubs to help him try and find it. Unfortunately, the “Captain” never had much luck, and now it’s up to the player to pick up where the pirate left off.
Players will be able to explore the island by unlocking different areas on the map. These areas can be unlocked by playing a number of minigames with the player’s adopted cub. These minigames include activities such as playing fetch, having the cub chase an RC car, or teaching the cub new tricks. All of these activities make good use of the Kinect sensor in different ways. For instance, to drive the RC car, player will simply stick their hands out and mock the motion of driving. Pulling back will make the car go backwards. To play fetch, simply make a throwing motion and the cub will chase the ball down and bring it back. Tricks can be taught by either mimicking the motion required, or in some instances, through voice commands. Often the cub will make suggestions for new activities that the player can either accept or decline to play.
As players explore the island, not only will new areas of the map be opened up, but players will also be able to dig up treasures. These treasures are often just collectibles to be added to the player’s cottage. However in some instances they are pieces of the map necessary for continuing on to the next area. Players can search for treasures using a device that allows the player to see where the treasures are on the screen. Once the treasure has been located, the cub will stand over the spot. Players can make their cubs dig up the treasure by mimicking a digging motions. The cub will then pull the treasure chest out of the ground and open it, revealing the contents.
Unfortunately Kinectimals is not purrrr-fect. There are some issues with motion detection that can lead to frustration. It’s not enough to irritate an older gamer too much but considering the relative attention span of the game’s intended audience, glitches like this can quickly end playtime with the kitties. Players should make sure that there’s good lighting in their play area, as back-lighting in particular seems to cause issues with the sensor. Some of the activities are a bit on the challenging side as well. Parents should be prepared to step in on occasion and give their young ones a little help.
Kinectimals does a lot of things right. The graphics are pretty startling in their quality, as the cubs and environments all look extremely lifelike. The cute and cuddly presentation is just right for younger kids, and the vast array of activities will keep them having fun and active. Parents will be pleased with the surprising amount of depth found inside. While there are some issues with the motion detection from time to time, that shouldn’t be enough to deter a rental or a purchase.
Overall Score 7.5/10