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Kinect Adventures! review

By Marc Scott

In November 2010, X-Box released the Kinect, a controller-less platform using motion capture technology making the player’s body the controller. New Kinects have been bundled with Kinect Adventures!, a game geared toward kids and young teens that familiarizes gamers with Kinect’s capabilities. Adventures! features a variety of game modes and game types and while Adventures! presents some frustrations and awkward gameplay, it also underscores the promise of controller-less exergames.

Kinect Adventures! features four game modes for one or two players: adventure, timed play,  free play, and online

  • Adventure mode puts gamers in an action-adventure themed storyline where players jump, duck, bend, and move to collect pins and advance through the game. For example, players begin with the Rallyball adventure where the objective is to throw a large ball at a moving target and move their body in attempt to bounce the ball off their avatar. Pins are awarded for each target hit and for the time remaining on the clock. Once successfully completed, players move to the next mini-adventure until they advance to the intermediate, advanced, and “ultimate treasure” difficulty levels.
  • Timed play mode is available after players complete the intermediate level “Beat the Clock” challenge in Adventure Mode. In timed play mode, gamers race against the clock to complete levels. I found some of the earlier challenges rather easy to pass, but the levels quickly became increasingly difficult. This was a nice option if I wanted to play a more challenging and active games, but it would have been nice to have this option available without playing through a half dozen adventure mode activities.
  • Free play mode allows gamers to pick and choose the mini-adventure games they wish to play. This was a great option as it became obvious early on that all mini-games in Adventure Mode were not equally fun. I could skip the “20,000 Leaks” mini-adventure (in which I fixed cracks in an underwater glass cage by simply moving my hands, feet, and head) to the more active “River Rush” or “Reflex Ridge” which required jumping, sliding my feet right and left, and ducking from obstacles. For quick gameplay focusing on the games I enjoyed, free play mode seemed the best option.
  • Online mode is available through the X-Box Live Gold Membership subscription program. I didn’t get a chance to play the online mode, but it allows gamers to play Adventures! with friends and family around the globe.

Adventures! blends the best X-Box features (amazing, vibrant graphics) with exercise videogaming. The River Rush activity showed off X-Box’s strong attention to visual details and sound: as I slid my feet back and forth and jumped to avoid obstacles and obtain pins, the sound of water cascading around me and the bright blue of the river reminded me of white-water rapid rafting. Kinect Adventures! strong visual appeal makes it easy to forget that I was engaging in light physical activity.

Not all of Adventures!’s mini-games, however, were as engaging. The previously mentioned “20,000 Leaks” activity was clumsy in its gameplay and I spent more time focusing on the sensitivity of Kinect’s camera sensor and its inability to detect leg movement rather than enjoying the game. The “Space Pop” mini-game was also a little clunky. In this activity, I moved my arms up and down to fly through a zero-gravity chamber in order to pop bubbles. I was able to move up very quickly, but couldn’t fly down nearly as fast which became a little frustrating in timed play mode when the object is to complete levels as quickly as possible.

Overall, Kinect Adventures! provides some fun activities and succeeds in providing gamers light physical activity and an introduction to X-Box Kinect. One unique feature to Adventures! is the Show Off and Share feature. Kinect’s camera took pictures of me playing at different parts of the game (a camera icon would notify me when Kinect would take the picture) and the picture was a fun way to share the experience with others. It also reminded me that I was playing a fun videogame—and staying active at the same time.

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Funding Information

© 2013. NMSU Board of Regents. All rights reserved. This project was supported by the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture through the National Research Initiative (Grant #2008-55215-18837).

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The Exergames Unlocked project includes a multi-state team of accomplished media education researchers, exercise physiologists, medical professionals and doctoral students. Contributing members are researchers in their fields and have helped launch the use of exergames as tools to combat obesity in their communities and beyond. New Mexico State University researchers and their partners have been funded to research the impact of exergames, develop specific recommendations for exergame use, and implement exergaming programs. As part of that project, this website provides access to resources based on research, sample projects, and input from the exergaming community. For more information, contact the project director: Dr. Barbara Chamberlin, Professor, New Mexico State University Cooperative Extension Service
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