As Kinect’s stock piece of pack-in software, Kinect Adventures clearly seeks to showcase the possibilities of the hardware while stimulating, by way of its omissions, an impulse in the buyer to invest in fully-featured, full-priced games elsewhere. As such, it’s a bare-bones package to say the very least, favouring glossy presentational devices to feed into that Christmas Day unboxing euphoria, while offering minimal gameplay value after the event.
The five minigames on offer are transitory enjoyment at best, but prove a reasonable enough introduction to the hardware in terms of its fundamental abilities. Placing the emphasis of proceedings on jumping, ducking and striking objects with the hands in order to score points, each game feels rather like a reinterpretation of the last, whether you’re smashing balls back into the screen, Breakout-like, to demolish targets in Rallyball, or waving your hands slightly less chaotically to plug cracks made in an aquarium by errant swordfish in 20,000 Leaks.
Space Pop may encourage you to enact a flapping motion with your arms in order to make your character fly, but still, ultimately, results in simply reaching out to grab targets. And while a sense of forward motion is introduced in River Rush, which involves a rubber dinghy careering down some rapids, interaction is still limited simply to jumping, in order to give the vehicle air, and stepping or leaning left or right to make it move. Reflex Ridge is similar again, asking you to make a ‘pulling’ motion to drive a trolley along some rails.
Once the obvious novelty of the nature of interaction has worn off, things become repetitious fast. While there are minor twists in the gameplay to unearth – slightly altered rule sets or faster and more intensive versions of each challenge – there’s little impetus to stick around and play Kinect Adventures for longer than it takes to impress the next friend or family member with your new purchase. An attempt to sketch a loose narrative around the activities is, however, rather commendable, roughly creating the idea you (and preferably a friend) are on a globe-trotting odyssey. Completing activities wins graded awards, from platinum down to bronze, and collecting enough of these nets a trophy.
Bizarrely, but slightly hilariously, the trophies are animated, and can be fully customised to mimic whatever motion and speech you perform in a short time limit. We can almost imagine that uploading a singing, dancing shark, as well as stills of your most embarrassing moments, to Microsoft servers for the world to see will be the feature that may actually pull people back to Kinect Adventures for a while after its games have lost appeal. That is, until the censors get to work.