Single-handedly revitalising Nintendo’s future and redefining the gaming market, it proved that even if the graphics were a bit rubbish, the motion controller was king.
And while the Playstation Move is a nifty little gadget in its own right, its the Xbox 360’s Kinect that really perked our interest. A motion control without the need to waggle, wave or superglue a controller to your mitts for fear of it slipping out of your hand and through a window.
As far as first impressions go, the Kinect blows its competitors out the water.
Even on the simpler, throwaway minigames, the accuracy of your full body movement is astounding. By mapping your entire body within a 3D space, the generic motion games you’ve come to know and love/loathe (Wii Sports) gain a whole new appeal with a nuanced and intricate depth.
Plus, the camera moves by itself depending on the height of the player. Which brings a HAL-esque, ‘the computers are watching you’ vibe that’s as cool as it is unerring.
The sports minigame collection traditionally comes in for a lot of stick from the ‘serious’ gamer community, but as an accessible, simple and entertaining introduction to the system, it’s hard to fault and capable of a few surprises of its own.
The six events aren’t particularly original (Track’n’Field, Table Tennis, Volleyball, Boxing, Bowling, Football), but the difficulty level is so perfectly pitched that it appeals to newbies and pros alike.
The multiplayer aspect may not work as smoothly as you’d like for a party game (without acres of space, table tennis with two similarly-handed players is tantamount to GBH), but there’s more than enough variety on offer to entertain.
For all intents and purposes, Kinect Adventures is a collection of all those keeeer-azy, kitsch interactive games you tend to find at theme parks and museums and the like.
And if that sounds like a slight, it isn’t meant to be. The real appeal of Adventures is not only its beautiful visuals, but the sheer variety on offer.
Packed in with every Kinect bundle, Adventures certainly does its job in selling the appeal and insta-fun on offer with the system, but little to encourage its longevity.
With minigames varying from down-river rainforest rafting to an updated Pong take on dodgeball, there’s certainly a lot to initially amuse, but once you’ve played variants on the five minigames over and again (and looked at the chucklesome photos of you bouncing around your living room), the fun factor’s well and truly worn off.
It was clear that it was going to take something spectacular to topple Wii Fit’s title as ‘More-Likely-To-Go-To-The-Gym-Ivator’ and while EA sports have certainly brought in the big guns (David Beckham on the box and a calorie counting armband in the bundle), Nintendo needn’t worry just yet.
First and foremost, EA Sports Active 2 isn’t a videogame. It’s a very complex, easily accessible and utterly knackering exercise programme.
Judged on those merits, it does the job. As long as you put in the effort in the first place, you’re guaranteed to come away exhausted and (in the long run, apparently) fitter.
The Kinect’s body scanning feature allows for a more accurate, body targeted array of exercises which focus on specific parts of the body for maximum effect.
With a personal trainer managing to balance the line between terrifying and motivating, and only the odd sensor or control glitch proving infuriating, it could be end up being a darnsight cheaper and more effective way of exercising than throwing money at the unvisited gym each month.
Just don’t expect it to be fun.
Considering the phenomenal success of Just Dance on the Wii, it’s unsurprising to see rhythm genre pros Harmonix taking a stab at the world’s first controller-free dance game.
And with a pedigree that includes Frequency, Amplitude and Guitar Hero, it’s also less of a shock to hear they’ve hit the nail on the head with their rhythm stick.
With a catalogue of modern pop classics (Lady Gaga, Rihanna and Basement Jaxx are just a few), and almost flawless full-body motion tracking, Dance Central is arguably the most rewarding and enjoyable of all the Kinect’s launch titles.
Surprisingly for a Sonic game, Free Riders does little to pander to the kiddy crowd or casual gaming market.
SEGA’s Sonic-meets-Tony Hawk franchise has long bothered the Wii, PS2 and Gamecube to little real effect, but with the Kinect’s full body-tracking technology they finally seem to have struck racing gold. That is, as long as you invest enough time and energy needed to bypass its niggly control system.
Players control the hoverboards by standing side-on to the TV, leaning back and forth and occasionally kicking or punching out to activate power-ups, activate boosts and grind.
The controls are sometimes enragingly specific, but once you’ve got the hang of things Sonic Free Riders offers a variety and longevity unmatched by its peers.
Like any new console or add-on, the Kinect’s possibility is the most exciting thing. While its launch games offer motion-capture madness in just the right way, there’s little to entertain gamers looking for a genuinely innovate technological evolution.
Give it time though, and from the already competent gaming catalogue already released, we have no doubt it has the potential to bridge the next step between this generation and the next (and with it, whatever new fangled gadget the gaming giants are planning to outdo each other with).