Kinectimals

10 Overall Score

Written by on December 5, 2010 in

by Ken Crockett

Kinectimals is a launch title for the new Kinect camera system for the Xbox 360.  It is developed by UK developer, Frontier, who brought us the Thrillville series of amusement park games, as well as the WiiWare title Lost Winds.  To say it plainly, I think this is their best title yet.  I have found the game to be lots of fun, despite that this was a game I got for my kids to play.  It’s one of the best game purchases for the family I have made in a long time.

Kinectimals is the cute little game we saw at E3 2010 this past summer featuring Skittles, the tiger, or many of his other friends to choose from. You start out as an adventurer who has landed on the island of Lemuria. You soon are confronted by a “fairy lemur”… yes, you heard me right. It’s a small miniature lemur with fairy wings. He welcomes you to the island and informs you that he is known as Bumble and tells you immediately that it is time to choose an animal as your companion. You are then brought to the bonding circle where you have the chance to choose from a few different feline companions.   Also in the bonding circle is what they call the Scan Stone. In my case, since I had bought the limited edition of the game, it came with a light blue tiger. Unlike what we have seen in the original “Project Natal” video where object scanning was shown off, the Tiger has a tag around it’s neck with a Microsoft Tag design that you hold approximately 9 inches from the camera lens on the Kinect sensor. This stone can also be used to scan in the limited edition toys from Burger King that come with the kids meals.  As my kids and I quickly found out, these are NOT new animal companions, they are just toys that you or your child can use to play with the animal you chose.

Once you have your animal of choice, whether it’s a tiger, lion, panther, or cheetah, you are off to discover more of the island. You are then brought to Bumble’s house or rather the house he has been living in.  The island had been visited before by a Pirate known as Captain Blackbeard. Bumble informs you that it has been a long time since Blackbeard was there, and that he had been on a quest to find a large golden tiger, so now you are tasked to find this tiger. You are soon brought to the first part of the map, where you will teach your cub some tricks, from jumping to playing dead. After that, Bumble instructs you on how to do different things with your new pet, such as jump rope and driving RC cars (including a Halo Covenant Ghost and the Warthog vehicle).  As you complete contests and various objectives, you find new parts of the map and earn coins to purchase new fun items for you and your buddy to play with.

The game is much like the rest of the Kinect launch titles: to show off how Kinect works and how you can interact with it.  In the case of my kids, they love the game.  My son will play other Kinect titles but if he has to choose, he will play Kinectimals before playing anything else.  If it was up to my 5-year-old son, who has played Kinectimals more than anyone else, he would rate the game five out of five stars.  I think pretty much any kid would feel the same way. As a parent, I can see the small flaws and things that are just annoying. One of the things I noticed is that the silhouette version of your hands, shown on screen when petting your animal, tends to bounce all over the place, especially with kids. For me, it works fine, but it frustrates my five-year-old.  This may be due to how Kinect senses body parts, and let’s face it my hands are massive and my kid’s hands diminutive to say the least. Other parts of the game seem to suffer because of this also, like the racing mini-games, jump rope, etc. However, in general, that just does not matter to kids who this game was geared towards. Honestly, they can completely overlook the issues games have. They just want something that’s enjoyable and that will completely engross them into the gameplay.  That’s where Kinectimals stands out above any other game I have seen so far, including the other Kinect titles.  Despite these small issues, I’m inclined to listen to my son on this one.

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