STAFF REVIEW of Kinect Party (Xbox 360 Arcade)

Thursday, December 20, 2012.
by Adam Dileva

Kinect Party Box art Who would have guessed that Double Fine Happy Action Theater would get a sequel one day, though now simply called Kinect Party. Once again, just its predecessor, Kinect Party allows you to jump into an open ended game without any of the boundaries of learning controls, mechanics, or objectives. Once again, with augmented reality gameplay, the game will react to you and your actions rather than you trying to figure out what to do. Your Kinect will get some good use with the eighteen new mini-games (channels) and you’ll most definitely have a unique experience even if you’re not the intended child audience.

If you read my review for Double Fine Happy Action Theater or played it yourself, you’ll understand that the point of these “games” is that there is no real point. There’s no score tallying, no levels to complete, no bosses, and no objectives aside from simply having fun and seeing how the game reacts to what you’re doing. Because there’s no real objective, there are also no barriers of learning how to play; simply move around and try stuff to see what happens. This may seem like a dumb idea to some, but for people that find a controller and memorizing controls a hurdle to overcome; Kinect Party is the perfect solution for those that just want to experiment.

Kinect Party has eighteen new mini-games, but if you own Double fine Happy Action Theater, those eighteen will also carry over and import into this sequel as well. You have the option to choose a specific game and have it stay on the screen until you decide to move on, but the default will automatically cycle you through each one after a few minutes with each. You’ll quickly see what ones you don’t care about and what ones need to be played for an hour at a time like the Dubstep video maker.

For some of the new mini-games you’ll don virtual costumes and accessories (for no apparent reason at all other than you can), destroy castles as a fire breathing dragon, chop down objects like a ninja, become a fairy with wings and a wand, dig for buried treasure like a pirate, throw fireworks out of your hands, and many more. By far though is the Dubstep video mini-game where some Dubstep music plays in the background and then it changes based on the tempo and music by swiftly switching scenes. It’s something that needs to be seen and experienced, as it was my favorite game in Kinect Party hands down.

When you’re not given any direction of what to do, you tend to experiment, and that’s where half the fun comes in. You try things and see how it reacts in the game world, opening up a whole new playground for you and the kids to enjoy. You could leave the game playing on the TV and I guarantee if people walk past the TV, at some point they’ll start moving their arms to see what happens. Sure it’s really just a collection of mini-games, but it offers unique experiences that let you simply play without borders.

At any time you can take a picture of yourself and then upload it to Facebook for all your friends to laugh with (or at) you. This feature was missed in the previous game so I’m glad to see it integrated here quite well. There is even some basic photo editing software included for those that would like to spruce up their pictures before sharing them with the world. With the ability to track six players at once (if you have the play space), Kinect Party makes a great background game for the kids or even a party, regardless of age. Sure the kids are going to enjoy it, but so will you and your friends after a few drinks; there will be many laughs to be had by all.

It seems the tracking has been improved since Double Fine Happy Action Theater and I never once had any control issues that plagues many Kinect titles. Just like how webcam software can place masks over your face in real time, Kinect Party does that and takes it one step further with full body tracking, allowing you to wear full costumes and hold many (and weird) accessories.

If you own the first game and enjoyed it even in the slightest bit, make sure you get Kinect Party since those mini-games will directly import into Kinect Party. The most notable thing worth mentioning though is that Kinect Party is FREE on Xbox Live Arcade until December 31st, so stop reading this and go download it before it’s going to cost you. What are you waiting for, there are some hilarious Dubstep videos to go make!

Tim: please never stop making entertaining experiences and games like this!

Overall: 8.8 / 10
Gameplay: 9.5 / 10
Visuals: 9.0 / 10
Sound: 8.0 / 10


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