25th January 2011 - Microsoft’s Kinect, its sold over 8 Million units at the time of writing, and is easily one of the most successful post-release hardware peripherals of the current generation, if not ever. With a range of titles that many claim fail to cater to the more mature or core gaming communities, one has to wonder what these so-called child’s titles offer to community. Are they genuinely well designed or just a gimmick for cheap sales to children and families? Kinectimals is one of the more successful titles for the Kinect. Read on to find out what if offers to gamers and families, and just whether it’s worth digging deep for or not…
Like the name suggests, Kinectimals is designed purely for use with Kinect. The main idea behind the title is that you use your body and hands to play with, train and interact with onscreen animals, namely wild cats. There are a total of 5 different cats that you can train as your own, with more unlockable via downloadable content and unique Scannable codes from various sources.
There are a wide range of tricks you can teach to your Kinectimal, from sit to play dead, and while its great to see such a wide variety of motion sensing gameplay elements, it can actually be very tiring or just plain insulting to anyone other than kids to role around on the floor and act out silly animations in order to teach these animals to do as they’re told.
That said, for a child, this is great. Its fun, addictive, energetic and a very unique approach to play video games that im sure parents will love to see, rather than their kid simply sinking into the couch cushions in awe of some story driven experience. While its not my cup of tea, im not going to deny its highly detailed and approachable gameplay elements or impressiveness to captivate the target audience.
You can run your cats through obstacle courses too, which is a great way of having children really feeling close to these digital pets, and getting a feeling of true accomplishment. Perhaps this is a considerable alternative to families without the means of having a real pet dog or cat. One argument here though, is that kids cant get the dog they want in digital form, as Kinectimals offers only a selection of cats to play with.
Unfortunately, Kinectimals doesn’t feature a multiplayer portion, which is the perfect example of an opportunity missed, as parents of the children who will be immersed in this game have no way to enjoying the title with their children and getting their kid more involved in the energetic activities this titles offers.
Visually, this is the most impressive Kinect title ive seen. Both in terms of graphical abilities and animation of the highly detailed Kinectimal cats, and probably more so the accuracy in the Kinect-based motion sensing and animation. More than MotionSports, more than Kinect Adventures, Kinectimals shows off just what the Kinect is capable of at this early stage, and its easy probable that we will see a sequel to this great kids game push these boundaries further in the future.
The cats look quite realistic when you look past their similes and happy expressions when really these beasts would rip your face off in the real world… But we don’t want kids playing that, do we? The game is very colourful and the animations smooth both in the environment and especially with the animals. Although, it would be nice to see something other than cats, perhaps as DLC?
The games sound is as on-par as you would expect. Its light and bubbly music fits very well in with the whole ‘play with the animals’ theme, and the sound effects from the animals are as cute and cuddly as the graphics make the cats themselves. It all adds to the childish nature of the title, furthering the appeal it has to kids and making go down all the much easier.
Im an adult. Not a child. And I don’t have any kids. So to me, there isn’t mush value in this title. Its childish, pretty and full of charm. But that’s not to say its worthless. No, its just worthless to me. I don’t want to roll around on the floor and talk to my games console. A child on the other hand, would love to do this. Any kid with a half-decent imagination and a tummy full of sugar wont be able to get enough of this game. There is so much charm in the animals, they almost feel like a real pet (minus the physical feel, that is), and any kid would love to laugh and play and run around with one. Definitely worth looking into for any of you parents who cant give their kids the pet they wanted for Christmas, or just if you want to get the young’uns out of your hair for a while. There is a lot of life in this title, and the stylish look and great way Kinect manages to get kids to feel a part of the game will have them entertained for hours on end.
For a kids game, Kinectimals hits all the right spots. Sure, it has its flaws and a very limited target audience, but anyone in that target audience is bound to absolutely love every second of the pet-simulating, fun-loving title topped with glittery styling’s and cheerfully colourful environments and soundtracks to no end. If you’re the parent of a energetic, game-loving child or two, do them a favour and let them into the wonderful world of Kinectimals.
AAG SCORE: 7/10
+ Kids will love this!
+ Looks great and is fun to play
+ Very bright and cheerful
+ Can teach kids real pet skills
- No multiplayer portion
- Where are the dogs?
Reviewed and Written By John Elliott