Project Natal renamed Kinect, due in November

[UPDATE] E3 2010: Xbox 360 motion-sensing system to come with fitness games "built into it"; Disney and Star Wars games teased, Wii Sports-like minigame compilation, pet simulator, dance game, and rafting adventure title en route.

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LOS ANGELES--Just over one year after it unveiled Project Natal to the public at last year's Electronic Entertainment Expo, Microsoft has given it a name. Tonight at a star-studded "world premiere" event featuring the French-Canadian circus troupe Cirque du Soleil, the software giant rechristened its camera-based motion-control Kinect (pronounced like "connect").

Kinect had its coming-out party in Los Angeles Sunday night.
Kinect had its coming-out party in Los Angeles Sunday night.

The name seems to be a tie-in of sorts to the Microsoft Kin, a family of smartphones the company launched in April. Any details on connectivity were absent, however. Aaron Greenberg, director of product management for Xbox 360 and Xbox Live, told GameSpot that "Sunday is about entertainment, Monday is about information."

Greenberg's reference is to Microsoft's press conference on Monday morning, where harder information on Kinect is anticipated. Already confirmed for an October release by a loose-lipped Saudi Microsoft executive, the system's price remains unknown. Also unconfirmed are rumors that the add-on will be bundled with a new slimline model of the Xbox 360, which was apparently outed by an Italian advertisement earlier today.

Sunday's event was all about shock and awe--if one considers Quebecois circus acrobats in skin-tight outfits shocking and awesome. Some 80 performers and 200 support personnel were on hand, with a stage show that took 25 truckloads of props and equipment to put on.

Though he generally avoided divulging hard facts, Greenberg promised that Kinect will still "see you, hear you, and recognize you," implying that the facial and voice recognition functionality of the device remains intact.

Greenberg promised that Microsoft's briefing on Monday morning would have a large emphasis on "core games." He called out Halo: Reach, Gears of War 3, and Fable III by name and said all three will be on the show floor at Microsoft's booth at the Los Angeles Convention Center. Crackdown 2 will also be playable on the show floor.

Kinect, up close and personal.
Kinect, up close and personal.

For more details, check out GameSpot's live blog of Microsoft's press conference tomorrow morning or the live stream of the event on GameSpot's E3 2010 event page.

[UPDATE] At the Kinect naming event, Microsoft also announced that Disney would be an official partner on the project. It also showed a brief snippet of a Star Wars game that will use the motion-sensing system but did not offer any concrete details about the project.

[UPDATE2] USA Today is listing four new games that will use Kinect, including the Wii Sports-like Kinect Sports. The athletic minigame compilation will reportedly include boxing, bowling, beach volleyball, soccer, ping-pong, and track and field events.

The national daily is also reporting that Microsoft is readying Kinectimals, a pet simulator that will let players train and raise more than 20 virtual cats--including big cats such as a cheetah, lion, and tiger. Also apparently in the works is Kinect Adventures, which will include the river rafting simulation River Rush revealed earlier this year by screenwriter James Gunn.

Another game USA Today lists in development for Kinect is Dance Central, which will have players tackle dance challenges much like the television show So You Think You Can Dance. The previously announced game Joy Ride will also apparently be fully Kinect-compliant, having players steer cars with a phantom steering wheel much like the Burnout Paradise demo Microsoft showed off last year.

[UPDATE]: Good Morning America this morning reported that Kinect will be on shelves in November, with fitness games "built into it."

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