Kinect Takes to the Slopes

Reading Time: 4 minutes

My family have enjoyed the various sporting and exercise Kinect games that the new controller launched with. But recently we’ve been looking for some different experiences – particular those that offer a more traditional game experience with the new hardware.

This led me to stumble upon a duo of snowboard racing games that make use of the motion sensing controller: Adrenalin Misfits from Konami and Sonic Free Riders from Sega. Both experiences offer a lot more than the usual mini-game fare that plagued the Wii’s early third party titles.

Sonic Free Riders ($39.96 Amazon) is the most exuberent of them, and asks a lot of both the player and camera. Our kids like the idea of this one the best and took to it quickly, but after a while they became a bit frustrated with it. I was called in to see if I could get on any better, and although it did respond a little better to my larger gestures I still struggled to pull off the complex movements it was asking of me.

Sonic Free RidersSonic Free Riders

Sonic Free Riders

Along the way you can collect power-up items. These either give you a boost or slow your opponents down – that much is expected. More unusual though is the way each of these collectibles adds an in-race minigame. It’s a little bit like playing Wii-Sports and Mario Kart at the same time.

You see, each power-up (Bowling Strike, Tee Shot, Free Throw and Soda Rocket) requires a related motion to trigger them. Trying to pull off a bowling action while steering the hover board and preparing for an on-rushing jump is no mean feat.

Sonic Free RidersSonic Free Riders

Sonic Free Riders

I found that there was just too much going on for me to really nail the racing. Or I would find a good racing groove but forget to trigger the items I’d collected.

This does get better with time, as your muscles get used to different movements required, but I also found that Kinect struggled to consistently notice my movements. It meant I lost confidence in the controller’s ability to really see what I was doing – which is strange because other games have been spot on in this respect.

We moved onto Adrenalin Misfits ($39.99 Amazon) and had almost the reverse experience. The kids simply couldn’t get the hand of it to begin with. I had to talk them through each of the moves in turn. But once they saw me doing it and had some practice themselves they really warmed to the downhill racing.

Adrenalin MissfitsAdrenalin Missfits

Adrenalin Misfits

Adrenalin Misfits uses Kinect’s controls wisely in a downhill boarding experience that reminded me of the real thing. If you have the time to invest it really starts to flow.

But rather than the complex challenges and fiddly steer of Sonic Free Riders, I was impressed to find a much more controllable ride. Rather than overcomplicating things with collectibles, power-ups and the like, Adrenalin Misfits focuses on creating a true to life – if cartoony – rendition of getting down a slope.

Adrenalin MissfitsAdrenalin Missfits

Adrenalin Misfits

Adrenalin Misfits works for me because it simply feels right. It recreates the sense of flow you get from a real slope. Of course, the real thing is a very different experience, but something of it has been captured here. And the slight vagueness of the Kinect controls actually works in its favor.

Which of these two games will suit your family depends on what you want from your Kinect experiences and how long you are willing to invest.

For us, we are still switching between both games. The younger members of the family still seem to have a soft spot for Sonic, while the older ones prefer the controls of Adrenalin Misfits.

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