Microsoft saw Nintendo making tons of money on Wii Sports and wanted in on the action. Who would they get to make a game like a Nintendo game? Well, they seemingly said to themselves, how about that part of Nintendo we bought?
So it is that Rare, former developer of Donkey Kong Country and current purveyor of virtual doll clothing, was put at the helm of Kinect Sports. For all intents and purposes, the game feels like a Wii Sports game, from the menus to the avatar movements. That’s not such a bad thing, though, because the gameplay itself is different enough.
Most of the time, that is. With Table Tennis and Bowling, you’ve gotten this before, and while Kinect is great at tracking arms, it’s not as good at tracking wrist movements. They’re serviceable for parties or houses without a Wii, but it’s not a reason to give Kinect Sports a purchase.
What is, though, is Soccer. It’s a simplified form of the sport that plays more like Ultimate Frisbee, since dribbling is gone and it’s a matter of choosing when and in what direction to pass to a teammate. When you get close enough, you then take a shot on the opposing goalkeeper, who can move both hands and feet to try to stop it. Even an out-of-bounds ball gets exciting, as free kicks and corner kicks have their own challenge.
The Track and Field events are fun as well, in a way reminiscent of, well, Konami’s Track and Field series. This time, though, it’s actual leg-pumping instead of button-mashing, and it provides the necessary visceral feel.
Sitting in the middle are Beach Volleyball and Boxing. Beach Volleyball is just too simplified, but jumping and swatting is a fun thing to do over and over again anyway. Boxing has a bit more detail than the Wii Sports version, but there’s just a bit more hand recognition that needs to happen to give the game nuance.
The little Rare extras are nice. The game catches video of you playing and creates a montage for you to watch at the end (and share with friends if you’d like). All play raises your ranking, adding a little progression to a game that could get stale, and different difficulty options let you crank it up to where you need it when you need it without beating a bunch of scrubs to get there.
This is the game you want to have to show off the game to family and friends over the holidays. It’s not ground-breaking, but it’s a lot of fun.