Kinect Adventures Impressions [UPDATED]

Jump, dodge, duck, and (maybe) dive in this collection of minigames.


At its E3 press conference, Microsoft unveiled a new Kinect-supported game called Kinect Adventures. Much like other Kinect games, Adventures is a collection of minigames that will get your body moving in all sorts of directions to avoid obstacles or guide onscreen objects. The first minigame we saw had the player riding in a flatbed railcar as it careened down the track. As the railcar moves, you have to avoid objects by leaning (or moving) left or right, or by jumping up to avoid barriers that are a bit lower. Meanwhile, you also have to extend your arms and strike a pose of sorts to collect tokens that are scattered on the track. Two players can play at once via split-screen, which is engaged when another player seemingly walks into view of the Kinect camera.

The next minigame we saw put two players in a raft drifting down a fast-moving river. It looks like you can control the raft’s direction by having both players shift from one side to the other. Indeed, at various points where there’s a fork in the river, players will both have to agree on which direction to take the raft in. Otherwise, you might end up in a bad spot. You can also make the raft go airborne by simultaneously jumping. When we saw the players onstage do this, they managed to take to the skies and ride fluffy clouds, and really, who hasn’t wanted to ride a fluffy cloud? And like in the railcar game, you can collect tokens as you journey down the river.

What’s interesting about all of the Kinect Adventures games is that they support a camera feature. At various points during your adventure, a camera icon will pop up, and the game will snap a picture of you (the actual you, not your avatar) in action. These pictures (and eventually videos) can be shared on social networking sites like Facebook. Kinect Adventures will have up to 20 games and will be available when Kinect launches on November 4.

[UPDATE:]At Monday night's Kinect hands-on experience, we had a chance to try Kinect Adventure for ourselves. During the press conference we got a glimpse of the obstacle course and river rafting, both of which work in practice much like we all saw during the show. With the obstacle course, you hop and duck under horizontal obstacles and can step side to side to avoid vertical obstacles coming your way. You also pick up medals by holding your arms at various angles or jumping in the air swiping your arms.

When two people are playing the river rafting level, the level becomes a race to see who can get to the finish line first. One subtlety that we missed in the press conference was that jumping causes your platform to move quickly though the obstacle course, so even if you aren't presented with an obstacle, continuing to jump is a good thing, even if it does tire you out.

The river rafting level requires both players to coordinate their movements in order to move the raft left, right, or jumping into the air. There's drop-in, drop-out multiplayer too; if another person steps in beside you, his or her avatar will appear in the raft with you after a few moments.

The final minigame we played had us swatting at balls, and was a more visually sophsticated version of the tech demo shown on the stage during Microsoft's E3 2009 press conference. The idea is to hit targets by slapping or kicking the balls with your hands and feet. There are two types of balls--one type simply bounces off the far wall when you hit it (and will burst into flames if you strike it hard enough); the second type of ball actually multiplies when it bounces off a wall, sending several balls head your way on the bounce-back.

The demo of Kinect Adventure ended with both players trying out the living statue feature--here, a group of Xbox avatars were shown on screen and, because there were two of us playing, one player controlled a group of avatars on the left side of the screen and the other player controlled the remaining avatars on the right. While the Kinect sensors recorded, both players were encouraged to move around, while their avatars copied their movements. Kinect reads both your body position and will record your voice, and your left with a small memento starring your avatars. Producers told us these were essentially customized greetings you can make and share with friends and that there will be several of these "living statue" bonuses to earn throughout the game.

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