It’s been one year since the Kinect made its debut, and it has been a really tough year for it. With nothing but fitness games, casual shovelware, and one good dance game released, gamers were ready to kill off the Kinect and be done with it before 2010 was over with. 2011 saw some really great and intuitive uses for the Kinect that developers had come up with or improved on. Yes, there was still a bunch of shovelware out there, but these games might convince you that motion gaming isn’t all that bad.
5. Just Dance 3
Now you may be thinking right about now, “Why is this on the list and not Dance Central 2?” The answer is that Dance Central 2, just like the first Dance Central, is a perfect example of taking a physical activity, good popular music, and fusing it with solid motion control to make a game that will make even the laziest of couch potatoes jump up and dance. In other words, DC2 is the standard that all music dance games should follow. With that being said, the ever popular Just Dance series made the jump to the Xbox 360 and everyone was excited. Finally four friends could dance together and do routines. If you’re looking for a good dance game that kids and adults can dance to, Just Dance 3 is a safe bet. Heck if it's good enough for President Obama to buy for his kids, why not you?
4. Sesame Street Once Upon a Monster
Yes, this is a Sesame Street game. Yes, there are fluffy monsters teaching you about friendship. Yes, this is a “kiddy” game. But you know what? I don’t care. And for a couple a reasons at that. Those are Double Fine and Tim Schafer. I’d like to describe Tim Schafer as the mad scientist of gaming for his willingness to think creatively outside the box, re-design the box, climb back in and think his way back out of it. He managed to take Sesame Street characters and put them into a magical story book world that is controlled by our bodies using the Kinect. With great sense of humor and equally great writing from both Double Fine and the Jim Henson workshop, kids and adults will both enjoy this game.
3. The GunStringer
Speaking of mad scientists, the crew at Twisted Pixel were clearly channeling the essence of Tim Schafer when developing The GunStringer. Their last two games, Comic Jumper and Mrs. ‘Splosion Man, showed that they can deliver both a humorous story and the tight controls of previous console generations. They applied that, a little while lie, and the most Wild West tropes seen in any game to create The GunStringer. The game is packed with in-jokes, some that only Texans will understand. Though the game could have used a bit more polish, instead of being rushed to retail, it is still a good time. Like I said in my review of the game, if the guys at Twisted Pixel weren’t making video games, they would make great comedy writers for Hollywood.
2. Rise of Nightmares
Ever since the Kinect came to market last year, Microsoft has been heavily marketing the Kinect as a family friendly motion gaming device. That tune changed in the middle of this year when Microsoft stated that they would try to aim for their core audience. One of those games was Rise of Nightmares from SEGA AM1, the creators of The House of the Dead. SEGA sought out to create a successor to the series and have done that with Rise of Nightmares. Despite having to be dead center in the middle of a room with tons of space, RoN delivers chills, thrills and scares, all while immersing the player in a dark, demonic haunted house/mansion. Not all games have to be sunshine and rainbows to appeal to gamers. Speaking of sunshine and rainbows...
1. Child of Eden
My God, is this game colorful. It’s like a never ending rave of bright, flashing neon, with strobe lights thrown in for good measure, all set to a catchy pulsating techno song that has a sweet mysterious voice signing. Child of Eden combines eye melting visuals, catchy music and puts it all on innovative motion controls that make you feel like if you were in the futuristic world of Eden. Tesuya Mizuguchi brings these elements together beautifully to create a game that is not just pleasing to the senses, but is also a blast to play. If only the game was a bit longer or there was DLC levels/songs to download for it.
If you are thinking of buying a Kinect this Holiday season but don’t know what games you should get, or you have one but want something else to play other than Dance Central, buy any one of these games. No matter which one you pick, you are guaranteed to have fun.