I’ve been hording demos on my Xbox for some time. Recently I wanted to play some games but didn’t really want to spend hours playing Gears of War 3, or dive into a new adventure. So I decided to make a dent in my demo queue.
My first thought, “this game is going to be terrible”. The reason I thought this is because Dance Central is known as the de facto standard for Kinect dancing games. I figured Konami was just trying to bank in on the dance genre, and the buzz around Dance Central. I will admit, I was quite wrong. DanceMasters actually brought some cool features to the table. One thing I always found confusing and annoying about Dance Central is how they presented which moves you’re supposed to do next. I never found it easy to see what’s going on in that little scrolling picture reel. To properly learn a song in Dance Central, you’d have to play the game enough so you can eyeball those picture tiles and know what they mean, or, you’d have to practice the same song multiple times and just memorize the routine without looking at the tiles. Someone at Konami must’ve felt the same way I do because DanceMasters’ move notification system is completely different. When a move is about to happen, there is a green silhouette of a dancer in the proper position on either side of the main dancer on the screen. Then to time it, the silhouettes move inward toward the main dancer on the screen, when they meet in the center, boom, hit the move.
One other cool feature of DanceMasters is they put your image/video/Kinect input data into the game so you’re actually dancing next to the in-game characters.
I expected the opposite out of Just Dance than I did from DanceMasters. Just Dance is also one of those popular dance games (mostly on the Wii), but I figured it’d translate well to Kinect. Unlike my opinion of DanceMasters, I wasn’t completely wrong about Just Dance 3, but definitely a bit incorrect. So first, some things that are awesome about Just Dance 3.
1) You can have up to 4 players, performing one song. This may sound cumbersome and possibly too unruly, but it is really well executed. It’s a bit difficult to explain in text, so I’ve included video below of 4 player mode in Just Dance 3. The routines make great use of partners, spacing, and timing.
2) You can create your own routines! When I first saw this, I thought, “big deal”. But then I thought about it a bit more. Then I decided to create my own routine. Hands down, making a routine is the most fun I’ve had in any dance game, ever! While your entire body (all movements) are recorded into a video like image, not all movements are tracked (more on that in a minute). But even with a significant lack of tracking, seeing your moves being played back and trying to dance with them is hilarious. You can also send routines you create to your friends, or post them online for everyone to download and play.
Now, what’s not cool about Just Dance 3. Earlier I mentioned that not all movements are tracked when you create a routine. Well, not all of your movements are tracked in the normal game either. Tracking is one of the things that did not get properly translated from the Wii titles. In fact, it is a direct copy of the Wii titles, in the sense that, only one hand is tracked! Yes, that’s right, one hand! It does not matter where any part of your body is at, as long as that one hand is in the correct position, you will be scoring points and perfects all day.
Also, Just Dance 3’s upcoming move list is much like Dance Central’s (or vice versa, whichever came first). It was a bit of a disappointment to experience this after just finishing with DanceMasters.
Overall, the Just Dance 3 demo was pretty solid, and would be a good title for kids to teens and families. Although, they don’t even let you play the entire songs in the demo, which was a let down.
When I said, “Xbox, Play Kung-Fu High Impact”, and the game started to load, I knew absolutely nothing about it (besides the title). The game starts and it asks me to make weird poses. When I align my body with the outline on the screen, it takes a photo. I was a bit nervous what it was going to do with these photos, but the outcome was amazing. Let me just bust the bubble for anyone who doesn’t know, Kung-Fu High Impact, is an augmented reality Kinect game. Let me add to that, an AWESOME augmented reality Kinect game. It took those photos of me in the crazy poses, and inserted me into a comic book. Result, I cried tears of joy. Then, I appeared on the screen. It told me I could punch, kick, jump, backflip, jumpkick, all of the moves a cool ninja could do (except the ‘throwing a smoke bomb at your feet to escape’ trick). So the round starts, enemies start coming at me. Remember, this is augmented reality so it has an image of me as the player. An enemy charges at me, I jump over him and he goes flying past. The natural instinct in any fighting game at this point is to hit them in the back for making a mistake. So I push my arms to the side, flying into the enemy’s back to knock him over. I should have already described gaming heaven to almost everyone out there. Point is, this game is one of the most fun, ever! For anyone who has wanted to be a cool ninja, this game is for you. With that, it must be said that the controls are not perfect. Other Kinect games can track better than Kung-Fu High Impact. Although, because of the pure awesomeness that this game is, you will more than likely overlook the few tracking errors you encounter, and just keep kicking ass!
Leela was the game I was most excited to play, and it was also the most disappointing. I don’t know what I really expected from it, but it was confusing, awkward and non-entertaining. Maybe it’s just not for me (even though I thought it was). The demo takes you through two exercises. But before you do anything, the game teaches you about your body’s energy areas. To sum it up, there are seven areas from the bottom of the spine to the top. The first exercise you do is to channel the energy at the bottom of your spine. To accomplish this you sway your hips to control the direction of a wheel. The point of this? To plant seeds and make them grow. Seeds automatically disperse from the center of the wheel, hit the soil, slow down, then eventually reach the surface. There’s two types of seeds, ones that need water, others that need sun. So when the seeds hit the surface, you sway your hips to turn the wheel and provide the seed with whatever nutrients it requires. The overall process was a bit slow for me. However, it does require a lot of focus in order to adjust the wheel to the proper spot at the right time. The seeds start to appear at quite a rapid rate after a while. Because of that, the controls feel a bit imprecise. I often moved my hips too far to one direction causing the wheel to spin fast. Then I’d go in the other direction to stop it… let’s just say it ended in a bunch of booty shaking rather than controlled, precise movements.
The second part of the demo is meditation. I’ve done meditation before, and I’ve always enjoyed it. Although for some reason, I just couldn’t get into it with this game. There’s a bunch of awkward positions, or maybe I just misunderstood Chopra’s instructions, but I never felt relaxed. I couldn’t wait for the time to expire for the meditation portion.
And that’s all for Demo Day Part 1. Be sure to check back in a few days for Demo Day Part 2.