Puss in Boots

Quite how a game starring a pair of talking cats on a quest to climb a beanstalk and find a magical goose managed to get a 12+ age rating is beyond us. Did nobody at the age rating bureau have fairy tales read to them as a child? That was the first surprise that Puss in Boots had in store for us. The second? That for a kid’s movie tie-in it’s fairly good.

What we have here is an on-rails platformer controlled through motion via the Kinect. Running on the spot moves Puss forward, jumping launches him through windows and such while holding your arms out helps the feisty furball to balance when walking along ropes. Stealth meanwhile is handled by tip-toeing and then freezing on the spot to avoid detection, and also having to perform poses to hide behind statues and whatnot. The controls work perfectly as only very simple gestures are required.

The levels are short but they’re fast paced with no dull moments to speak of. Changes in gameplay, from platforming to stealth, are seamless and there are a few unexpected moments including the chance to woo female felines with a spot of guitar playing.

Combat, again, is simple but brilliantly executed. Down the side of the screen there are two meters that have to be filled by stylish swordplay. Once filled there’s the chance to kick enemies into background obstacles – such as down wells and into mine carts – and also the ability to scratch them to death, which requires you to wave your hands around like a madman.

Before kicking an enemy you need to line them up with your chosen device of death, which has to be achieved by sidestepping. There are bonus items in the background that can only be collected this way too such as destroyable ‘wanted’ posters and collectable guitars that let you distract enemies with music… before whacking them around the head with said instrument.

Production values are seemingly high. Antonio Banderas himself supplies the vocal talent and just as his voice is easy on your ears, the visuals are very easy on the eye. The fur effects and lip-syncing in particular are highlights.

Unfortunately, the notable polish has come at a price – this is one of the shortest games of recent times, clocking in at around three hours. You can though add a couple more hours onto that figure if you’re planning to get gold medals for each stage and play through the handful of multi-player challenge modes that have been included.

An unhealthy amount of jumping is required throughout as well, although for parents this might not be a problem – it’s almost certain to tire the kids out before bedtime.

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