Oct 19, 2011
We picked up an Xbox Kinect yesterday. It’s a Christmas present. Yes, it’s October. But we had to test it out before it goes to Santa (unless it becomes an early Christmas present….).
Many times I’ve posted about my disappointment with the Wii. It was, as usual for Nintendo, ground breaking. However, the limitations on the unit were so many that it became such a disappointment every time we turned it on that eventually it stopped being used, then during one room rearrangement it was packed up never to be seen again (in fact, I’m not even sure where it is now).
To us, the problems with the Wii were that the controls were limited and awkward. The input being hit and miss. A major issue being that you could do whatever energetic movement was required on screen by a simple flick of the wrist. On top of that, the games released were poor. There are only so many times you can play a variation on the theme of “pop the balloons”, “Duckhunt” or some other game that you can play for free in a Flash window in your browser.
The only decent games were released by Nintendo themselves, but they all amounted to the same old formula. The Wii was disappointing and uninspiring (and full of pathetic cheaters in online play).
Because of our disappointment with the Wii we never really took either the Playstation
dildo Move or Microsoft Kinect seriously. They seemed like gimmicks designed to lure buyers away from the Wii. Using the technology and success of the Wii (patents pending).
After much debate we decided that the Kinect was the way to go. It’s more expensive than the Playstation Move, but on the flipside, if your neighbours look in the window during game time with the Kinect they’ll just think you’re having a seizure rather than attacking an invisible lover with an “intimate massager” (a very important consideration for many people). The main consideration was the fact that with the Kinect there is no controller…. you ARE the controller, as per the marketing. I’m assuming that the Playstation Move is more accurate as an input device, but the main purpose for us is to get bums off seats and doing a bit of activity so the Kinect was the sensible choice.
All in all, the Kinect is very competent. We tried three games, Kinect Adventures, Kinect Sports and Dance Central. There seemed to be a bit of input lag on the Kinect Adventures game – this can be a problem, especially on the game where you break blocks with balls (kind of like Curve Ball). Putting your arms where the ball is going to be takes some practise. However, the other two games seem to have tweaked the technology and gotten it right.
I’m not too keen on the athletics events as running on the spot and pretending to throw something has never been high on my list of skills (probably because I didn’t do drama in school), but I could really get behind the boxing game. In comparison to the Wii Sports boxing effort, the only thing missing here was force feedback. The Kinect recognised (mostly) the range of motions that I was doing. I even did some windmilling to see how it handled that…. and it actually did! Although I had to finish off my opponent with a series of chain punches. Power punches were a little bit awkward as you had really push your should back before releasing for it to recognise what you were doing (a movement that I’m not used to doing when punching).
To round it off I did some Lady Gaga on Dance Central. Now, in space, no one can hear you scream. And on the internet, no one can see you dance (unless you’re that kid from a while back).
So it’s probably best to describe my level of competency when it comes to dancing. I’m an enthusiastic amateur who dances to his own rhythm, and usually a different song to the one that everyone else is listening to. Now that you have that image in your mind, add in an octopus on a pogo stick. That’s pretty much how I look on the dance floor.
Luckily, Dance Central breaks down the dance moves for you in to nice little chunks for you to practice before you put it altogether. Dance Central was a lot of fun although once the fifteen or so songs have been done to death there’s always the opportunity to buy more (hooray(!)).
The only thing that I don’t like about the Kinect (and you can probably turn it off) is the Hal9000-esque “I’m watching you…” aspect of it, when it gives you a replay, or takes photos and then urges you to upload them….. I know I look like a buffoon playing with a controller, so if ever the footage of me on this thing got out I’d be committed as mentally incompetent. I’m sure there are some beautiful people out there who love prancing about and seeing themselves, that’s not really us.
All in all I’d recommend the Kinect. It’s a very competent piece of kit and unfortunately is everything that the Wii isn’t.