Kinectimals ReviewBy Stephen Johnson - Posted Nov 03, 2010
If you're older than nine, Kinectimals is not the game for you. Microsoft's Kinect-powered kitty cat simulator is strictly for kids and parents who need a new babysitter. While it is an undeniably impressive demonstration of the Kinect's powers, as a game, Kinectimals is so easy and so bland, even members of the pre-tween set are likely to become bored with it, unless they're very easily amused.
- Flawless Kinect Controls
- Beautiful visuals
- It's absolutely adorable
- Lack of challenge
- Built for younger audiences
If you’re older than nine, Kinectimals is not the game for you. Microsoft’s Kinect-powered kitty cat simulator is strictly for kids and parents who need a new babysitter. While it is an undeniably impressive demonstration of the Kinect’s powers, as a game, Kinectimals is so easy and so bland, even members of the pre-tween set are likely to become bored with it, unless they’re very easily amused.
The center of the game is the interaction between the player and his pride of cat-cubs. You meet, name, befriend and train baby versions of the most dangerous animals on earth: Panthers, lions, tigers, bobcats, cheetahs and more. Don’t stress about the potential for mauling these animals represent, though. They’re babies, so they’re cuddly, cute and without malice.
“Sexiest game of the year!” -- Furries Everywhere
Interacting with your pet is undeniably, unspeakably adorable. The animals really respond to your voice and actions, sitting down when you tell them to, reacting to their name, fetching toys when they want to play, purring when you scratch them behind the ears, and interacting with their owners in truly lifelike ways. It’s almost eerie how flawless and complete the game’s pet interactions are. The little guys are so lifelike; it’s like having a small animal trapped inside your LCD. My Kinectimal, a baby panther I named “Satan Rising,” quickly warmed my heart with purrs, jumps and obedience, but sadly, I could not impart upon him a taste for human flesh.
The baby cats all live on an idyllic island called Lemuria with their helpful narrator/tutorial Bumble, a miniature flying combination of a cat and a dragonfly. Bumble and the cats frolic all day in the perpetual sunlight. They never grow old, get hurt or die, and herein lays the main issue with Kinectimals—there’s no meat to the game. It’s all cotton candy. While the graphics are truly amazing – kitty cats are perfectly detailed from the tips of their widdle-bitty whiskers to the points of their teeny-tiny claws – and the interaction between man and tiger/bobcat works flawlessly whether you’re teaching your pet tricks, wiping him down with a sponge, or playing with a chew-toy, but the Kinectimals experience as a whole seems empty. There’s no drama. There’s nothing that drives the action forward, and the gameplay itself is so easy, even the smallest cat-lover is likely to become bored once the initial squeals of delight subside.
So Cute I Fwowed Up
Here’s how you play: You and your animal friend earn points and money by playing simple mini-games. Maybe you throw a ball back and forth or jump-rope together. Maybe you just give your cub a bath using a soapy sponge. Then, you earn the dough to buy new cat-toys and collars as well as the right to compete in contests, which are, essentially, other mini-games, but these have medals you earn for good performance and the ability to switch players and compete with someone else. You unlock new areas on the island that allow you to competing in mini-games with different backdrops.
Kinectimals makes an effort to provide a variety of different interactions in its contests. Sometimes you’re hurling a ball. Sometimes you’re throwing a Frisbee. Sometimes you’re driving a remote control car (including toy versions of the Warthog and Ghost from Halo) Sometimes you compete in obstacle courses where you control the movements of your cat. Each of these games controls very well. The Kinect is dialed-in, and the simple, one-to-one motions translate to the device perfectly. But after awhile, the challenges become repetitive.
The best sections of Kinectimals are the training sequences, where you perform a series of moves and your animal imitates it. You play simple memory games with the tricks, and there’s a definite sense of accomplishment and some incredibly endearing animations that come with leading your animal through its performance paces accurately. The sense of a real connection with your pet is palpable.
Kinectimals training mini-games are so good; it’s surprising and disappointing how little of the game actually calls for you and your pet to do anything together. Throwing a Frisbee through hoops or knocking down targets with a tennis ball is fun, but your cat does little but watch you play and chase the occasional errant ball.
Everything here is very, very easy. The last of the dozens of Kinectimals contests is just as easy as the first one, so there’s no sense of progression of skills, and no reason to try to master anything within the game. I played through the entire game, and didn’t feed my animal once, but he didn’t become surly and murderous. He just keep purring and loving me. Refuse to bathe your animal and he’ll end up covered in dust, but it doesn’t seem to make him any less happy. Even little kids need some reason to keep playing a game beyond an adorable main character, and there just isn’t anything in Kinectimals.
If you’re looking for an eye-popping game to show off the Kinect’s controls and your 360’s graphics, you really love cats, or you have a five-year-old you need to entertain for an hour, Kinectimals is worthwhile, but it’s more of a momentary distraction than a full-fledged game, even for little kids.