Xbox Kinect

Project Natal AKA Xbox Wii60

I can't let you do that, Dave.

If you were one of the few boys and girls who were able to get their hands on an Xbox Kinect this Christmas season feel joyful that you didn’t have to shell out the 150 dollars to turn your Xbox 360 into an Xbox Wii60. I’m not saying that the Wii is superior in every way to the Kinect…oh wait, I am. Over the past few weeks I was granted the opportunity to experience the Xbox Kinect and, frankly, I was unimpressed. Before details are gotten into, I’d like to issue a brief disclaimer: I did not buy a Kinect, instead I spent many hours playing with the demo version at my local Best Buy. This may have colored my experience a tad, but I probably did more to move Kinects in those 3 days than did any of the salesmen people men. That being said, let’s carry on.

What am I supposed to throw down in rage now?

As far as my Kinect adventures went, I was only able to play a single game, with six subgames, Kinect sports. KSports, as I shall refer to it from henceforth, is the direct analog of Wii Sports, being that they are the exact same game, one being slightly shinier than the other. KSports features fun and innovative games like Bowling, Boxing, Volleyball, Track and Field, Ping Pong, and Soccer. Whatever happened to Baseball and Golf I’ll never know. KSports is a game, I hope anyway, designed to display the capabilities of the Kinect. Yes, it should be fun, but it is there to show what exactly the contraption can do. Wii Sports is, mechanically speaking, the best game available for the Wii. If you are a Wii owner and anyone ever complains about the Wii’s “Terrible motion controls” pop in your copy of Wii Sports to correct them and tell them to take it to the independent developer next time rather than the solid hardware. The minigames in Wii Sports simply work leaving all failure squarely on the fault of the player, which I suppose is good for this type of thing.

If only it worked that well, lefty.

KSports, however, did not leave me with such a feeling of hardware competency. Take bowling for example, simple, right? Grab a ball, throw it at some pins and hope they all fall down. Unlike actual bowling, throwing a virtual ball is often a lot easier and makes us forget how terrible we really are at the sport. Sadly, though, the Kinect fails to mimic this fine activity, demonstrating one of its many flaws. While the KSports bowling is fun there is one flaw that, at first, may not seem like much, but you can’t put spin on the ball when you throw it. At first this doesn’t seem like much but, for one, it shows the limited nature of the Kinect in that it lacks the ability to see fine detail, like the Wii can, and that you can not accidentally put spin on the ball. After that I scored a perfect game by standing perfectly still raising my clenched fist behind me then swinging it straight forward. Strike every time. There was an old man who was very impressed and bought one soon after. What does this mean for the Kinect overall? I means that it can’t do anything overly complicated with it, which is probably why golf was removed, and that the Kinect will be forever bound to the realm of awkward dancing machinations.

 

Because I play in a bright green room, too.

After that I tried my hand, ironically enough, at a game of soccer. And by soccer I mean some kind of crazy Russian dance. Any actual skill or expertise you have with Soccer is pointless in this arena where the game is determined by moving your feet in one of the (up to 3) directions allowed or, as is the entirety of the volleyball game, block the ball with your hands, as the goalie of course. It doesn’t actually matter which how you move your feet when playing, only that you do move and hope the ball goes in a direction you wanted. This flaw falls squarely on the Kinect this time. After a few failed games I went into the settings and discovered that the Kinect was unable to recognize my feet and head at the same time, regardless of how far away I stood. If i was too close the camera wasn’t big enough and if I was too far it couldn’t decide where my head was. Obviously, the Kinect could use a few more dots for articulation, but alas, ’tis a bit late for that. Just hope that the ball doesn’t get close enough to put you in goalie mode, because they will score. The Kinect is painfully slow at recognizing well…pretty much anything and this is nowhere as obvious as when you are goal tending. Wanted to block that kick? Shoulda started moving before they kicked it. This happens in Volleyball and Ping Pong, but since waving your hands around is the main function of the game the timing becomes easier to predict, assuming it wants to register anything at all. The Wii was at least pretty responsive, years ahead of the Kinect.

Every. Single. Time.

Next on the list is Boxing. I don’t actually have anything bad to say about Boxing. It was pretty fun but still suffered from many of the same problems as the others, but least notably. And Track and Field? No idea what I was supposed to do. No instructions were given. I think I was supposed to run or something. Overall, anyone who wants a Wii either already has one or isn’t going to shell out the money for a Kinect, which is not significantly cheaper than an entire Wii console. The Wii, now four years old, got it right on day one and the Kinect and the PlayStation move are just cheap attempts to earn some more money by Microsoft and Sony. I haven’t had a chance to mess with the voice control features, but from what I’ve heard it is cool but not enough of a redeeming feature to save the Kinect. My final thought: Don’t give Microsoft more money, give the Wii some love again and maybe they’ll release another Zelda game.

They mad.

Extra Credit: If you want some more insightful commentary on the Kinect and Move in relation to the Wii, check out this episode of Extra Credits over at the escapist, right below Yahtzee.

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    • cwwalter2000
    • December 27th, 2010

    Most of the issues said seem to stem from lack of correct set up on the part of best buy. They also seem to have turned off the instructions that show up at the start of each game. It works quite a bit better if set up correctly and if you have a chance to know how to play. While that argument shouldn’t be able to redeem it for the average buyer, it is really fun if set up well.

      • Sam
      • December 27th, 2010

      The instructions thing I agree with, I didn’t know you could do that, but I spent a lot of time setting up the thing myself, with an occasional look from a Best Buy employee. I think it was when I went and got a video card box to move the sensor up with that they were most agitated.

    • Keah
    • December 27th, 2010

    They’re releasing another Zelda game! Give the Wii love by buying one of those fancy new controllers with the Wii Motion Plus built in. (They come in candy blue and hot pink, as well as the traditional black and white.) You’ll need it for Skyward Sword. It’s kind of funny, though, that your review praises the responsiveness of the Wii, yet they’ve released hardware to make that even better.

      • Sam
      • December 27th, 2010

      I heard about that new Zelda game about a year ago and I’m still waiting. It’ll come, someday. And yea, the Wii was great to start with, then Nintendo decided to make it even better, what with all this competition coming out. Its too bad not everything makes use of the motion+ though.

        • weidmoorknight
        • December 28th, 2010

        So far, I think you can only buy the Motion Plus with a controller, and that’s about $40. With such an expensive, and redundant (if you already have 4 controllers), accessory, it’s not surprising that everything isn’t using it. Also, not all motion-related games really need THAT kind of sensitivity. After Nintendo’s sure everyone’s bought the integrated Motion Plus controllers, I’m sure more related games will be released.

  1. Unless you have a huge room, the sensitivity on the kinect sensor is attrocious. Too little space to the side or too close to the sensor in front and you might end up looking like a lonely karate figure fighting for your life with thin air!

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