Kinectimals: Xbox 360 Review

Cute is the first word that comes to mind when you start to play Kinectimals. There have been many games released over the years that have you controlling animals, from Nintendogs to A Dog’s Life, but there are few that have been as so immediately cute as this one.

“Kinectimals” invites children, their parents and animal lovers of all ages to build lasting friendships with some of the world’s most exotic creatures. Just like real pets, your “Kinectimals” will come running when they hear your voice, respond to commands such as “jump,” “roll over” and “play dead,” and purr with joy when you scratch them behind their ears.

Kinectimals Features:

  • Get in touch with your wild side. Your journey begins when you adopt and name one of 20 playful friends, including a lion, cheetah and Bengal tiger.
  • Create memories that last a lifetime. From the first time she recognizes her name to when she learns to fetch, your cub will grow up as your sidekick, eager to discover the island around you. She will always be ready for a scratch and a belly rub with smiles and purrs.
  • The fun never ends. There are new ways to train tricks such as fetch, play activities such as jump rope, and even master agility courses with hops, stops and balancing acts. Invite a friend with his or her pet for some fun contests.
  • Discover, collect and customize. “Kinectimals” rewards those who are curious about the island they live on. Travel far and wide to discover treasures and toys, and find and unlock new environments. You can customize your pet and decorate your home, plus use the in-game store to shop for items to nurture and care for your new best friend.

The character leading you around the game is called Bumble, a flying lemur fairy. He takes you to the first section of the game called, The Bonding Circle. The game begins with you having to pick your cub. The range is small to begin with but more cubs unlock once the game is completed.

To begin with, you have to get used to stroking and petting your cub. It is very simple to do, just move your hands around and they will show up on the TV whilst rub over your cub and he will show his approval. Next up you have to name them, which is done by recording the name within the game.  You say it once, then one more time and you are ready to go.

Kinectimals follows a loose plot about some lost pirate treasure that you will search the island for. However, most of this isn’t vital to playing the game as you are welcome to scour the island as you please the more you unlock areas.

The game has a load of tricks that you can teach your cub. They range from simple ones such as jumping in the air that your cub will copy, to spinning around and even playing dead on the floor. You are taught most of the tricks by following the tutorials that pop up throughout the game. They usually involve special movements or even laying on the floor. There are loads of tricks to teach your cub and Kinect captures most of the motion control very well indeed.

Kinectimals isn’t just about tricks though; you can play with your cub too. There is ball tossing, washing, catching, Frisbee throwing and even driving. All of the actions are done via motion controls and although most of them work very well, some can be a real pain. For example, throwing balls can be a miss match of what seems like poor throws or the ball just flying out of your hand for no apparent reason. I must point out that this doesn’t happen in all of the mini games, just a select few, but it is a shame. It may also be more of an issue with Kinect rather than the game itself; though with so many of the mini games working perfectly it seems more likely to be the latter.

While playing with these mini games, various little tidbits of information pop up on screen. These tell you how far you have thrown the items or tell you to hit various targets. Doing this builds up both money and experience points that appear on a bar at the top of the screen. The experience points that you build up unlock more content and areas on the map while the money can be spent on toys or bits and pieces for your house. Each area of the map has five mini games that can be completed.

What does work very well in Kinectimals is the way that items and areas are unlocked at regular intervals. This means there is always something new either on show or for you to spend your money on at the store.

One issue we have had with the game is the over use of menus on screen. For example, buying a toy has you select the type of item you want, then the actual toy, then you have to confirm, then you have to go back two menus to exit. It just seems too overblown.

Graphically Kinectimals is a great looking title. It isn’t just cute, but the game is full of colour, great animation and style. It is far and away the best looking title in what can only be called, the pet game genre. The environments are well designed and it all flows smoothly with a great frame rate. The cubs are also well animated and full of character in both their faces and in their playful nature.

Sound is good too, thanks to some very good voice work for Bumble and the purrs, grunts and groans from the cubs. The music is well done too along with some great background noise across the levels.

So overall it is a great start from Kinectimals and I really hope that Frontier release a follow up to it so that they can fix some of the nagging issues we had with the game. While the game has a great selection of mini games as well as some great tricks and motion control features, some show too many problems.

The cuteness isn’t distracting to adults either while children absolutely love it. The plus for children is that most of the tricks are easy enough for them to pull off by following the onscreen examples that Bumble shows you. So in the end a good but not great title, but it is one that we can see will improve over time. It does need a sequel and we hope it gets one.

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