It was a year of laughter, tears and shame as I exposed myself to the best and worst games for the Kinect. While my Friday nights had devolved into wearing depraved costumes, inebriation and yelling at the TV, I found some real gems for games using a peripheral people all have but discounted. There were many surprises, both good and bad, that actually made the time, and lost brain cells, worth the effort. Without further adieu, I present to you the best and worst games to come out for the Kinect in 2012.
Power Rangers Super Samurai
I never watched the Power Rangers growing up, so I was at a complete loss with this game. I knew the gist of the show and the basic idea behind it, but I was not prepared for what I experienced. Outside of the hilarious one-to-one motion combat, the game features several in-game cutscenes that utilize the Kinect’s camera to put you, the player, into the scenery. Since I was wearing black tights, armor made of cardboard and wielding a cardboard tube, it resulted in some rather amusing situations.
Kinect Star Wars
Who doesn’t like Star Wars? Well, you might not after playing this game. It’s an abomination hewn from the efforts of several studios in an attempt to make a Kinect game based off of the scifi franchise. Needlessly to say, it is about as attractive as Jar Jar Binks. The only redeeming mini game in the entire collection is the dance offs which feature such wonderful Star Wars themed parodies of modern music. If you’re going to brave the rest of the mini games such as the racing or the Jedi combat, just breath deep, close your eyes and say to yourself: Lightsaber ON!
Fable: The Journey
This was a game that I had previewed at PAX back in 2012 with our very own Joseph Christ and we came off rather positive. While it is on rails, the combat is an interesting take on using just hand gestures to sling spells at your enemies. If it hadn’t been for the technical bugs, the ridiculous relationship between boy and horse, and extremely repetitive gameplay, this might have had been one of the better titles this year yet for the Kinect. Unfortunately not.
Dragon Ball Z for Kinect
I’ll admit, I’ve watched all of the Dragon Ball Z series, so coming into this game it was a bit nostalgic to see references to all of the old characters and story that I grew up watching. I’ll summarize the game for you: punch, punch, punch, kinect misinterprets what you’re doing, yell at TV, punch, punch, kick, lose the fight and have to do it all over again. Like other fighting games for the Kinect, it suffers from the same problem of devolving into just punching at the screen a lot... and I mean a lot. With nothing more than tedious fight after tedious fight, it really became not worth the effort.
Kinect Nat Geo TV
This was one of those weird titles that kind of teeters on the edge between being an actual video game and an “interactive experience.” While the gameplay is restricted to some short, infrequent mini games, the actual content of the game is educational and presented in a very clean and intuitive manner. I’m not saying this is something you should play, but if you have kids or know kids that are into nature, this would be the most amazing game to them.
Sonic Free Riders
As of writing this, I am still sore from playing this game. While it did not come out in 2012, I played it recently so it counts! Aside from my apparent need to work out more, making a racing game that requires precise control is never a good match for the Kinect. There are motions you can perform in order to take sharp turns or activate some mechanism, but any fine tuned movement or turning is completely out of the question. A lot of time, I found myself guessing as to what I should be doing in order to achieve a certain objective during the campaign of the game. Though quite honestly I wasn’t paying too much attention as I was pretty drunk (the only way to play this game).
Harry Potter for Kinect
This is a game I picked up solely for the reason that you can have the Kinect scan in your face and play as yourself through the adventures of Harry Potter. I was not disappointed. In some of the most horrific and hilarious moments I’ve had while broadcasting, I found myself in tears while playing Harry Potter for Kinect. While the game is pretty standard fare for your Kinect based titles, what really caused this game to stand out what my wonderfully terrifying burn victim of an avatar acting out scenes from the Harry Potter movies.
Steel Battalion: Heavy Armor
I would play any other Kinect game before I ever play this game again. Steel Battalion: Heavy Armor is a title that made me hate video games and this mess is barely a video game. Between fighting with the controls, contrived gameplay and ridiculously obscure missions, this was a title that became impossible to beat. The missions ranged from “walk here, shoot dudes” to simply an obscure QTE sequence that seemed absolutely meaningless to the actual story or characters.
Having to repeat the same sequence 10 times in a row because I didn’t understand the mission objectives or the Kinect was constantly misinterpreting my actions while under heavy fire is completely unacceptable. The most frustrating component, however, was that no face buttons on the controller were mapped to any action. They had extra buttons to use but they decided “NO THE KINECT WILL DO IT ALL” which just simply doesn’t fucking work. Steel Battalion: Heavy Armor is shit and you should feel bad. I don’t care if you like it or not, just feel bad so I can share my misery. This is by far, the worst Kinect game I have played, of all time.
Double Fine’s Kinect Party was one of those titles that, given the quality of developer, wasn’t much of a surprise that it was good, but given Kinect’s technical limitations turned out to be amazing. Simple as it may be, a collection of minigames, in a party setting this game is destined to draw the attention of everyone in the room. It provides a plethora of hilarious scenarios that react to a large number of people dropping in and out at a moment’s notice. It’s one of those few games that anyone can walk into the room and immediately start playing.
It’s not just the gameplay that makes Kinect Party take the prize, it is one of the most attractive titles to sit and watch as your friends make complete asses of themselves. There’s always people discovering things for the first time or inventing a new way to commit a depraved act during a mini-game. This is absolutely one of those titles that I will pull out time and time again to entertain guests. Bravo Double Fine, you deserve Kinect Party claiming the “Best of Kinect” prize, as much of an achievement that is.