A World in Motion
Motion Control is the in-thing now, what with PS Move and Kinect treading firmly on the Wiiís toes and putting their mark on the game space. The first batch of Kinect titles for the Xbox 360 are actually pretty impressive, especially games like Kinectimals Ė targeted both at youngsters and those who are young at heart.Gameplay
Set on a lush island the gameplay of Kinectimals is simple and perfect for low-level interactions in a virtual environment. You have a variety of tasks to perform and doing well nets you points, points gets you further into the island and opens up new areas and challenges. Itís gameplay at its simplest and most rewarding, if somewhat repetitious in the nature of the tasks. Whatís good about it is that it keeps you moving, since interactions with the various Kinectimals and toys arenít confined to standing around and just waggling a foot or waving an arm.
The Kinect is spot on and tracks your movement perfectly allowing for a nice layer of control over your chosen activity. Be it driving a buggy around to knock over various obstacles, or racing the course, youíre making the shape of a steering wheel and turning, pushing forwards for acceleration and backwards for reverse Ė itís oddly fun. There are tonnes of toys to play with and a good spread of big cats to adopt and interact with, our favourite is definitely the Black Panther cub.
You can groom your chosen Kinectimal and this game is perfect for younger kids that canít own pets, due to allergies or other reasons. Thereís a solid level of personality to each one of these big cat cubs and they push the cute envelope just enough, so that itís fun but not overly cloying. You can give the cub a wash or play Frisbee (our favourite) for hours on end. Itís basically a game that lets you play at your own pace.
When youíre throwing an item, you have to take account the various properties of that item. Some objects will just drop short because theyíre quite heavy; some have unpredictable flight paths like the squeaky pig. The discs however are extremely fun to throw and some of them can be made to drop quickly by the action of you dropping to your hands and knees rapidly. You can also change the flight path of some of them with a wave of your hand.
Then there are various challenges, like the obstacle course where you have to jog on the spot, leap up in the air, duck down and get physical enough to realise that this is a good way to keep fit whilst having fun at the same time. That seems to be a knock-on effect of the Kinect regardless of the game that youíre playing. Kinectimals will keep you throwing things, running around, jumping and teaching your pet animal new tricks for hours and hours all with simple gameplay mechanics that are fun and engaging.
Thereís also buried treasure to find, secrets to unlock, new animals to befriend and even a place where you can buy new objects and toys. So the developers havenít skimped on content.Graphics
Kinectimals isnít just a throw-away game in terms of graphics, thereís a lot of detail here and the various pet animals look gorgeous, with various markings and expressive characteristics that set them apart from one another. They have fur which collects dirt and grime, sand and even gets wet. The developers have managed captured the essence of an animal in graphical form and given it a personality all of its own, from the waggle of the ears to the swish of the tail. The environments are also excellently done, ranging from deep forests to sandy beaches and hidden coves Ė thereís always something new for the kids to look forwards to as they explore the new island with their pet.
The lighting effects and general polish of the graphics are great; shadows are used to convey a depth to some of the areas and a slight forbidden feeling. With the ever-present need to uncover the islands secrets driven home by glimpses now and then of other areas through cracks in rocks and so on. The water is also excellently done, with some nice physics and reaction effects.