Kinect Party – Review

Has there ever been a game with a more causal name than Kinect Party? We’d argue that the Game Party series is a strong contender. Unlike Game Party though, the latest edition of which is currently stinking up the Wii U, Kinect Party isn’t soul crushingly soulless.

It’s a sequel to Double Fine’s Happy Action Theatre and following suit, Kinect Party is designed to get children’s imaginations running wild. Load it up and you’re presented with a retro-style TV that’s constantly changing channels. There are 36 channels in total, each offering either a mini-game or interactive gadget of sorts.

Some of the more involving ones are inspired by classic retro games – including Space Invaders and Breakout – while others such as a kaleidoscope simply distort whatever images the Kinect captures. There’s even the chance to feed some rather realistic looking virtual pigeons by spraying breadcrumbs out of the palms of your very hands. Coo!

If you want to play a mini-game of your own choosing than rather being presented an endless random selection, a quick tap of the back button brings up a menu. A menu full of slightly sinister Alfred E Neumann clones, no less. When picking a game there’s no time-limit, leaving you to mess around at your own free will. It’s from this menu the photo lab can be accessed as well, and here photos can be edited with frames and filters and then shared on Facebook.

There are a fair few secrets to find throughout, like roaring into the mic while dressed up as a dragon during the fancy dress mini-game to make the green beast bellow flames. Then over on the pirate mini-game there’s treasure to discover and dig up while a parrot provides clues. Fans of Double Fine’s previous efforts may also notice a few cameo appearances here and there including the children from Costume Quest.

Double Fine must be fans of Minecraft too – not only is there a rudimentary racing game with a similar visual style, but also a few Minecraft props to wave around elsewhere including the trusty pick-axe.

Some mini-games feel a bit empty when compared to others but as a whole it’s a decent use of the Kinect technology. It made us smile on more than a few occasions – it’s such a nicely presented and humorous collection that it’s impossible not to. The relaxed vibe is more than notable as well. Take the karate mini-game as an example – items appear at the side of the screen ready to be broken to bits, but there’s no penalty if you miss one.

Kinect Party’s target audience should be pretty clear to you by now. Aside from some incredibly easy achievements and a fancy looking Vextrex-style retro shooter, there isn’t much here for experienced gamers at all. Plonk a child in front of it though and they’ll no doubt be in their element. We would have loved to have something like this back when we were children – in our day we had to make do with shouting “the floor is lava!” and clinging onto the sofa for dear life. Or was that yesterday? We forget.

Kinect Party is free on Xbox Live Arcade until 31st December. Be quick!

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