More Reviews
REVIEWS Dark Souls II: Crown of the Sunk Review
I was confident in my Dark Souls abilities. Then From Software released new Dark Souls II DLC.

The Swapper Review
One of 2013's best indie games swaps its way to Sony platforms.
More Previews
PREVIEWS Pillars of Eternity Preview
For Obsidian's crowdfunded love letter to Infinity Engine games like Icewind Dale and Baldur's Gate, I was impressed by its willingness to pull back the curtain and let me see the machinery behind it.
Release Dates
NEW RELEASES CounterSpy
Release date: 08/19/14

Tales of Xillia 2
Release date: 08/19/14

Plants Vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare
Release date: 08/19/14

Madden NFL 15
Release date: 08/26/14


LATEST FEATURES Interview: Forging the Rings of Power in Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor
Tolkien fans may now either squeal with glee at getting to play interactive fanfiction... or condemn it to the watery grave of Numenor.

How Bioware Creates Romances
Bioware's games have romances where you might save the world, on the side of course.
MOST POPULAR FEATURES Picking Your Gender: 5 Industry Professionals Discuss Queer Identity in Gaming
Women from Naughty Dog, ArenaNet, Harmonix, and Gamespot unite to talk about what they want from games in terms of diversity.
 
Coming Soon

LEADERBOARD
Read More Member Blogs
FEATURED VOXPOP oneshotstop
Call of Duty will never be the same
By oneshotstop
Posted on 07/28/14
       We've all been there. Everyone remembers that mission. You and your partner are climbing up the mountains in the snow, striving to pull some slick clandestine operation about getting some intel on a bad guy, or something similar (because let's face...

Kinectimals with Bears! Review

Eddy_DS_Fettig By:
Eddy_DS_Fettig
10/14/11
PRINTER FRIENDLY VERSION
EMAIL TO A FRIEND
GENRE Action 
PLAYERS
PUBLISHER Microsoft 
DEVELOPER Frontier Developments 
RELEASE DATE  
E What do these ratings mean?

Move over, Skittles. I like Smokey.


There I was, a 24 year-old male, sprawled across the floor on my back, staring at my screen. The bright-eyed panda bear on the screen flopped over, playing dead. A syrupy sweet fairy's voice instructs me to get up and whirl around in a circle. I do as commanded. The bear swirls around and topples.

I hope you're all happy. I went through hours of embarrassment, all for you people reading this. And you know what? I'd do it all over again if I had a kid to play witha son, a daughter, a baby sibling.



I'm going to go out on a limb and assume that if you're reading this, it's because there is at least one kid in your life you're considering picking this game up for (or just a serious animal lover). Well, I endured the childish tomfoolery so you didn't have to and managed to survive without a scratch. And I can tell you that, while I am clearly not the intended audience for this gameand it's likely that most if not all of you reading this aren't, eitherI can appreciate that Kinectimals with Bears is, as a whole, a well-made children's game. And I'd better manage to convince some of you of this notion because, damn,  I'm still suffering from some tennis elbow after all the arm swinging I've done.

I haven't played the original, wild-cat flavored Kinectimals nor did I have much Kinect experience prior to this review. What I can say is that if you've already played Kinectimals, this bear-centric quest is not as large as the original and is going to be more of the same. However, if you've never played this title before or you're looking for a piece of software to help you see what Kinect is capable of, I'm sure this game will fit the bill. I strongly recommend you prep the DVR/Netflix with something super depressing to watch immediately after playing Kinectimals, though, or else the constant cuteness that bursts from your television set may send you into a coma of happiness if you're not cautious. The animals may be designed to be photo-realistic, but their faces animate like cartoon characters. It's a one-two combo of adorableness. Watch out.

Whether you decide to play with cats or bears (and is there really any contest here, seriously?), the structure of Kinectmals will be the same. Yes, I did use the word 'structure' in that last sentence. I went in assuming that this game would be like Nintendogs, a virtual pet sim. It's not. You don't have to manage your animal's fur or keep it fed or take it for walks. You simply play with it, discover new tools and toys, and complete challenges. The game welcomes you in with vibrant natural environments and a furry, animated host, setting up some pirate-themed backstory to explain your goal in exploring the island. What it boils down to, though, is interacting with animals so cute it should be illegal and completing mini-games based on the activities you learn with them.



This is both a great strength and weakness of Kinectimals. Essentially, the game gives you free reign to interact with your bearbecause, let's face it, that is the animal you're going to play withearning Discovery Points (ooooooh!) that unlock challenges. This open-ended structure gives children freedom to play and go nuts doing whatever they feel like, but still maintains an overarching focus to keep them engaged and instill a sense of purpose. While this works out well early on, it flattens in later portions that require performing repetitious tasks to move to the next challenge. In shorter bursts, this design will probably hold up well, but in longer sessions, its edge will get dulled quick.

The challenges themselves require reflexes and some amount of precision. I had some issues with throwing, however. Tricks, juggling, fishing, steering, climbing... these all made sense and were quickly intuited, but throwing seemed off. Oftentimes the object I was meant to throw would stick to my in-game hand or would go flying off in a totally different direction than where my arm was pointing. This could simply be my own ignorance in using Kinect, but I didn't have problems with any other aspects of the controls. Even so, the game seemed to be lenient on throwing, and I would hit targets sometimes that I felt like I wasn't going to.

The challenges also award medals that unlock new objects, toys, and apparel, so you can ensure that your Kodiak bear is looking stylish in that pink princess collar with matching heart tag. Even an adult like myself wasn't always able to earn gold medals on my first try, so I'm betting that going for those golds will keep kids busy. The fact that the Kinect lets one player walk off and another walk in and retry the same challenge under a different profile is a nice touch, too.



With that said, while Kinectimals does possess structure and content above and beyond a pet simulator, after the challenges are complete, I'm not sure what other entertainment may be had. The animals don't need to be cared for in any way, and the direct interaction with the animals is actually somewhat minimal compared to Nintendogs. Of course, you could argue (and how dare you, I'm the critic here) that this is a children's game, and that I'm being a little harsh. Or, maybe you've already dismissed any merit such a game could possess because “iz not teh hardcorez!” The fact is, children's media ought to be handled with a different type of care than something like Gears of War, and Kinectimals does a good job in this endeavor and more games should strive to appeal to kids in this way.

To be more specific, I don't mean that this game treats you like an idiot. It doesn't. That's part of what makes it endearing and useful. The game uses its colorful, fuzzy protagonist fairies to serve as guides, and the characters sound like something ripped from Nick Jr., but in a good way. Shut up, it can be in a good way, I swear. They speak fairly naturally, use words and phrases that aren't merely base level. They animate their bodies on screen with shimmering hands or feet to help players visualize what body movements will trigger the Kinect to recognize the proper motion. They directly address and instruct the human player without making them feel like they're stupid. They enforce lots of subtle but probably healthy ideaslike when you catch a butterfly, you should free it after observing it. If all of this sounds like bullcrap to you, then... well, why are you even reading a review about Kinectimals, man?

Shockingly enough, I could go on about this endearing children's game for longer than I can about many other, more difficult games. Make fun of me all you want, but I enjoyed wiping saliva off the TV screen and acting like a kid. And if you have a kid in your lifeespecially one who likes little furry things with eyesthere's a really good chance that Kinectimals will win them over, and get you off your ass and doing something with those arms of yours. Also. Freaking bears, man.

Review is based on the Xbox 360 version, of course. Copy was provided by Microsoft.

B Revolution report card
  • Intuitive, easy to comprehend, active
  • Visuals are bright, lively, and generally detailed
  • OMG, SO CUTE!
  • Bears. 'Nuff said.
  • Progression can get repetitive
  • Not a lot of replay value after main quest
  • Throwing objects doesn't feel right
    Reviews by other members
    No member reviews for the game.

More from the Game Revolution Network




comments powered by Disqus

 


More information about Kinectimals with Bears!


More On GameRevolution