I feel like our lives changed forever on Thursday – we purchased Microsoft’s Kinect for Xbox360. I was intrigued by the Zumba fitness game (upcoming release date November 26, 2010) and since my birthday is coming up, decided to jump in and buy Kinect as an early birthday present. Kinect comes with a game – Kinect Adventures – and retails for a mere $149.99 (for this type of technology, this price point is truly affordable). We also picked up Kinectimals (for Ryan) and Dance Central. The beauty of Kinect is the combination of the xbox360 graphics with motion play and no controller! You are the controller! The Kinect has a motion sensor, cameras, microphones with voice recognition technology.
Setting up Kinect was a snap – it is an plug-n-play device! We already have two Xbox360 consoles so we didn’t need to purchase the bundle. Kinect will work on the older Xbox360 as well as the new one. The difference? The setup on the older model requires a separate power source while the new one will power the Kinect. One important caveat: you must have at least 6 feet clearance between the Kinect/TV and the gamer. The Kinect cannot “see” you if you are too close. While playing, if the gamer jumps forward a warning flashes on the top left of the screen to “move backward”. The system requires a few updates (make sure you have your xbox hooked up to the internet) and you are ready to go!
The first game you need to play is Adventures – it sets up the system and walks you through the Kinect body controls. One of the most important to master (and certainly not difficult) is the “right hand at your side, left arm extended down with the back of your left hand facing the kinect” move. This brings up the Kinect menu. Other than that, each game uses different movements to cycle through menus and the like. It is very intuitive.
Adventures is exactly what the name entails: a series of fun activities including rafting, running a gauntlet, plugging up holes, popping bubbles and so forth. The graphics are truly stunning!!! We had a blast rafting and the best: the pictures! At a certain point in the game, the Kinect Camera takes pictures of you and these action shots were totally hilarious!!!! We were rolling with laughter at some of the silly faces and poses. Also, you can share these photos with your friends on XboxLive, Facebook etc.
Kinectimals is adorable and featured on Microsoft’s Kinect TV commercials. You visit an island where these cubs live and adopt one (don’t worry, they switch off and you actually get to play with all of them!). You name your cub and he will recognize his new name, scratch behind his ears and bond. Then, off you go exploring the island with your newly adopted cub and this flying fairy cat who explains the game to you. The objective: collect map pieces, play games and find treasures with your cub. You can go shopping to decorate your personal hut, buy more toys to play with and enter into different contests. At one point, Ryan was flinging frozen pizzas at statues to knock them down!
Yesterday afternoon, we tried out Dance Central. There are numerous songs and they are grouped into bunches according to difficulty. The first song is Pokerface by Lady Gaga. Matt gave it a shot. First, you break it down – the dancer on screen shows you the initial step and you have to imitate him. If you get it right away you are rewarded with a “flawless” and a diamond. If not, you get three shots to get it down. Some moves can be difficult so you can select “slow it down”. The dancer slows down dramatically and walks you through the steps. You can keep repeating it until you feel comfortable and then select “speed it up” to go back to the normal action. Each set contains three dance moves and ends with a recap putting those moves together. Once you get the three sets down, you put it all together. You are provided with flash cards on the right hand side of the screen and an audio cue that the step is about to change, The best: the freestyle dance where the Kinect camera snaps away and puts it all together for you in a speeded-up video! Again, a totally hilarious moment!!! I tried out Funkytown and I actually did extremely well! The music is fantastic and ranges from pop, hip-hop and old school.
What is very exciting about Kinect is that it is not limited to the Xbox360. It has a USB interface and within 3 hours of launch, a famous hacker had already uploaded the source code. Note, this isn’t a “hack” within the true sense of the word, it is making the code available for open source applications. Several companies are offering cash prizes for the coolest open source program or demo using Kinect.
It will be very interesting to see what other uses Kinect will be capable of but for now – go out and buy one before they are all sold out!