Kinect’s Second Wave Is Already Arriving

Geek Culture

While hunting through the release lists for my Hot 3DS Christmas Games, I stumbled upon quite a few interesting Kinect games. These titles are being called Kinect’s second wave because they each extend the use of the controller in some way — or fix issues they had at launch…

Dance Central 2 bolsters its technical perfection with proper two-player mode, more characters and better post-dance feedback.

Dance Central 2

With three other Kinect dance games available (Just Dance 3, Dance Evolution and Dance Paradise) the pressure is on Dance Central to retain its hardcore dancing crown is growing. Dance Central 2 looks to set straight some omissions from the launch title’s line up as well as include another very strong set of tracks.

Best of the new modes is “It’s Party Time,” which lets you team up with friends to dance the new simultaneous multi-player features. Two players can drop in or out at any point, something that families and tired-limbed enthusiasts will no doubt appreciate.

Just Dance 3 brings accessible dancing to Kinect with its four-player simultaneous entertainment. The big question is whether the Kinect controller can cope with all those sweaty bodies.

Just Dance 3

Coming late to the full-body, controller-free dance game party has benefits for Just Dance. Rather than trying to match Dance Central‘s exacting requirements, as Dance Paradise, Dance Masters did at launch, Just Dance 3 has been able to stick with its quick and easy game-play.

The irony is that, by sidestepping (no pun intended) the need to please more hard core players (and dancers), this feels like a much better fit for the Kinect audience and controller. Just like on the Wii you can drop in and out of a dance at will and compete with up to four players dancing simultaneously. But now you are also offered modes that ask each of the four players to pull off distinct choreography — not only a greater challenge, but also much more theatrical again playing the Kinect’s theatrical strengths. And of course the dance detection is the full body, not just your hands as it was on the Wii.

Sesame Street: Once Upon a Monster wraps up six episodes of storytelling with enough emotion to melt even the hardest of gamer’s hearts.

Sesame Street Once Upon A Monster

As we get closer to its release, it’s no surprise that core and casual gamers seem to agree this will be a roundly convincing Kinect title. The emphasis is on theatrical storytelling as Kudo’s hands-free controller, Tim Schafer’s joie de vivre and Jim Henson’s puppets collide in the living room.

Cookie Monster, Elmo and other Sesame Street characters are each granted there own chapter that offers a particular story and series of motion challenges. What is still being sold as an uplifting and whimsical living storybook, is probably better seen as interactive theater. As we found with The Gunstringer something magical happens when you stand in front of a controller and play with your hands alone.

Motion Sports Adrenaline will extend its Kinect rendering of hardcore sporting action. Like the original, this looks like an unusually realistic game in the Kinect cannon.

Motion Sports Adrenaline

Motion Sports was one of my favorite Kinect launch titles. It combined realistic visuals and game-play with the Kinect controller that felt much more convincing than other third party games. It also included a wide range of activities for all the family from Horse Riding, Hang Gliding and Football.

Motion Sports Adrenaline follows the original with a set of more extreme sports. While this doesn’t offer the same range of experience as the first game, a more focused version of the Motion Sports approach to Kinect game-play is an attractive offer.

Rise of Nightmares is one for the dads rather than the kids and will bring the survival horror genre to Kinect. Matching House of the Dead for schlocky scares, but will the shooting be as much fun?

Is it possible to be scared by a game while flailing around in the center of your living room floor? Sega is certainly hoping so, with Rise of Nightmares requiring players to use motion control to melee-battle zombies with pipes, knuckle dusters — and sometimes just their fists. The more straightforward controls – punching the air to, well, punch – will be accompanied by on-screen buttons and prompts for more complex actions.

Developed by Sega AM1, known for their work on the House of the Dead series, Rise of Nightmares has a similar B-movie horror approach to its storytelling, putting the player in the role of an American tourist searching for his wife in a monster-filled European castle.

In addition to these there are the following recently released Kinect games you might also want to consider:

Fruit Ninja Kinect sounded like a bit of a gimmick. Once I had been persuaded to stand up and play, I got into the silliness and found it to be quite a lot of fun.

Fruit Ninja

I’m much more comfortable playing a game on an iPhone or iPad than joining in with something in the living room. For a start there’s usually something else I’d rather do when it comes to family play time, books, films, cooking all feel like a better use of my time — particularly if I can involve the kids.

The Gunstringer matches Kinect’s theatrical controller with a western stage play full of character, bravado and audience participation. It revolutionizes Kinect — not just in terms of controls, but the untapped nature of the thespian experience.

The Gunstringer

It instantly feels different to any Wii or Move game, with only a glance at the more muted style of Carnival Games (Wii) and The Shoot (PS3). It’s different because of the genuine sense of theater it creates.

In fact the game opens with a full motion video (as we used to call them on the CDi and CD32) that takes you from a waiting taxi into a theater and starts the show. But more than these clever cinematics, The Gunstringer embraces theatrical interactions, commentary and audience participation throughout. Wii-Sports and the other first party titles from Nintendo suddenly seem rather staid and corporate next to the hijinks and hoopla on stage here.

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