Kameo's graphics are surprisingly good - far better than the "demo stage" I tried out at the local Best Buy. At the center of the game is an enchanted kingdom that's so amazing to behold all I could do was stare in awe. The rolling green meadows, transparent waterfalls, and ornately crafted purple bridges look like something out of a dream. The forest, caves, and towns that make up most of the stages aren't nearly as detailed, but the scenery is always clean and well defined. Likewise, the various elemental forms you assume come to life with character and imagination. The dragon "Ash" looks especially impressive, and the way the light reflects off of his scales is amazing.
Kameo also features a superb orchestrated musical score that makes the game feel more epic than it is. The gameplay involves fighting monsters and solving puzzles using combinations of your elemental abilities. You'll use the plant to burrow under gates, the boulder to roll over ramps, and the dragon to light torches. Sometimes you need to employ the talents of multiple elementals in rapid succession, and this can be problematic because the game doesn't always let you switch quickly. Another issue is the trigger controls. Using one or the other is no problem, but it's sometimes hard to execute moves that require pulling both triggers at once - especially in the heat of battle. When trying to execute Kameo's jump-kick, I often inadvertently caused her to jump (right trigger) or hover (left trigger) instead, which was frustrating.
The camerawork is decent overall, but I found it to be absolutely abysmal during the "shadow demon" battles, where the "negative exposure" visuals make it tough to tell what's going on in the first place. In general however, Kameo is pretty easy to play, and you can always consult a "Wotnot" talking book for advice by pressing the Start button. A two-player split-screen mode is also available. Kameo has nice production values and is well constructed, but I found its gameplay to be very predictable and not particularly memorable. As a bargain-priced title however, you might just find Kameo worth your while. © Copyright 2007 The Video Game Critic.
The first game, Rallyball, is one I recall seeing on Jimmy Fallon's late night show. It's a Breakout game where your body is the paddle. You'll scuttle from side-to-side while using your arms, legs, body, and head to deflect bouncing balls against blocks and targets. It's like nothing you've played before, and probably nothing you'll ever want to play again!
The next game is 20,000 Leaks, and this one puts you into a virtual submerged glass box surrounded by deep blue water and colorful coral. Fish begin to poke holes in the glass and you'll have to reach out and step over to cover multiple leaks at a time. I have to admit it's pretty satisfying to magically plug them while contorting your body.
In Space Pop you float around a space station, which sounds a lot more fun than it actually is. Your goal is to pop bubbles pushed out of the walls and floor, and it gets old in a hurry. In Reflex Ridge you stand on a train car moving over elevated tracks while side-stepping, ducking under, and jumping over padded obstacles. It's original, fast-paced, and physically demanding. It feels like you're on an old wooden rollercoaster in the woods, and I love the sound of rumbling wheels over rickety wood emanating from my rear surround speakers.
Last but not least is River Rush, which is like a white-water rafting ride where you grab coins along the way. Stepping side-to-side guides your raft, and jumping causes it to go airborne. The lush jungle scenery, pirate ships, and amazing water effects are fantastic and ideal for summer fun. I love how the splashing water washes over the lens of the camera. The only fishy thing about this game is how you can initiate jumps in mid-air. It doesn't feel natural and it really waters down the challenge. And don't bother with the two-player co-op because coordinating your movements is more trouble than it's worth.
Kinect Adventures lets you play events individually or in an increasingly difficult adventure mode. Navigating the menu screens using your hands is fun, but the load times are a little extreme. The games tend to be easy and forgiving, which compensates for the slight lag in the controls. After each event you're shown snapshots of yourself playing and encouraged to "share" these photographs. Who in their right mind would want to share these embarrassing pictures? Is there a destroy option?! The fun is fleeting but as a quality pack-in title, Kinect Adventures serves its purpose. © Copyright 2011 The Video Game Critic.
Instead of walking in place as you might expect you just point the way with your arms. It's a workable solution but it made me look like Frankenstein. Most other amusement park games require you to painstakingly unlock rides, like the awful Universal Studios Theme Park Adventure (GameCube, 2001). Thankfully that's not the case with Disneyland Adventures; a handy map lets you go directly to any attraction. One downside is there's little incentive to explore the park on your own, unless you care about collecting autographs and taking snapshots with various Disney characters.
The rides are not great. Peter Pan's Flight and Space Mountain require you to hold out your arms to "fly". Matterhorn is one of the better rides, letting you lean side-to-side while careening through icy tubes. On the Jungle Cruise you aim a water cannon at hippos and floating crates, although my hose kept shooting to the side. In the Haunted Mansion you shine a flashlight to dispel ghouls, which is fun... for a while. Unfortunately the attractions run way too long and there's little challenge. If nothing else you'll get tired of holding up your arms. Pirates of the Caribbean actually requires you to row, and after a while it starts to feel like work!
Would these games play better with a normal controller? Let's just say the idea crossed my mind! I couldn't figure out how to abort a ride I started, and after completing a ride you're presented with goofy snapshots of yourself "in action". I was relieved to see "photos are not saved to your console"; thank goodness my console isn't online! Disney Kinect Adventures packs a lot of content, a magical musical score, and great production values. It's a shame the motion controls couldn't hold up their end of the bargain. © Copyright 2018 The Video Game Critic.
For a Kinect title the controls feel surprisingly responsive and natural. The idea of running by moving your arms side-to-side makes a lot of sense, with jogging in place being optional. There are six adventure "worlds" based on individual Pixar franchises. The first one I tried was the Toy Story-inspired "Day Care Dash", where the goal is to reunite a toy with a child. The game has a nice flow as you navigate backyards and playgrounds while running, jumping, climbing, and riding zip lines.
Stages based on the Incredibles include a wild flying saucer ride through caverns that truly does qualify as a "rush". In Ratatouille you're a rat scampering across rooftops and in Up you're a kid navigating white water rapids. But Cars is the biggest revelation. Speeding down the street using a make-believe steering wheel works so well I could hardly believe it.
The production values in Kinect Rush are beyond reproach but the stages are repetitive and grow tiresome. You play for score but the challenge is minimal. Moving between worlds requires navigating a little theme park with a lot of playground banter I could do without. Sampling the games is fun but I didn't have a burning desire to finish every chapter of each world. Still, Kinect Rush succeeds where many Kinect games fail - delivering exciting action with motion controls that actually work. © Copyright 2018 The Video Game Critic.
Track and Field is the most grueling sport, offering a series of five events: sprint, javelin, long jump, discus, and hurdles. Thank goodness the running events are short, because otherwise older gamers would be keeling over from heart attacks! Despite the ever-present specter of death however, it's hard to beat these for side-to-side competitive fun.
Boxing has a leg-up on the Wii boxing because you don't have those pesky cords getting in the way. Ditto for Table Tennis. Volleyball is clearly the visual highlight with its amazing futuristic stadium. Unfortunately it's too easy, and my friend Steve and I were able to ascend the ranks against the CPU with relative ease.
All of these games are very forgiving, and there were times when I returned the volleyball despite the fact that I clearly missed the thing. I wouldn't call any of the events great, but they are consistently good. High scores are saved for each player, and it's always fun to go for the world record. In addition to the normal events, a nice party mode throws together a series of short, random contests.
The main problem with Kinect Sports is its unwieldy user interface. Selecting an event forces you to wade through what seems like a dozen menu and confirmation screens. My friends were like, "Didn't I just select this?! Do we ever actually get to play?" Silly cut-scenes and boring replays further delay the action, and the load screens are pretty long as well. It's fun when you're moving, but the cumbersome interface prevents Kinect Sports from fully hitting its stride. © Copyright 2011 The Video Game Critic.
Darts is better than you might think. You have pretty good control over your aim and can toss using a natural motion. Golf is a lot like Hot Shots with its simplistic gameplay and beautiful rolling courses. It lacks the precision of a full-blown golf title, but it's still a good time. Skiing is more dumbed-down than I would have liked. Leaning moves you from side-to-side, but "rails" keep you on a narrow track.
Tennis can be repetitive, and there are a lot of "that-ball-was-nowhere-near-the-racket" returns. Baseball is such a complete bust that my friend proclaimed it "the worst baseball game of all time". Before each pitch you must select your throwing hand, and that's a real hassle with two players. At bat, the strength of your swing seems to have no bearing on how hard the ball is hit. Reaching for "catchable balls" in the outfield is mildly amusing. Each contest lasts only two innings, but they will be the two longest innings of your entire life.
It's hard to get into a groove while playing Kinect Sports Season 2. Tutorials are often repeated, the constant replays are a bore, and "celebratory" screens are tiresome because you can't do much besides wave your arms. I did enjoy the after-game montages that show the players jumping around, and the soundtrack incorporates pop hits from all eras.
Avoid the temptation to skip the tutorials the first time you play this! The controls are remarkably non-intuitive, and you'll never figure them out on your own. Certain actions are voice activated, but it's more of a gimmick than a useful feature. Kinect Sports Season 2 is an uneven effort, but there's fun to be had if you know where to look. © Copyright 2012 The Video Game Critic.
Sorry, but the light saber controls are not the ones you've been dreaming of. You alternate between offense and defense, and blocking is actually more satisfying than hacking away at an opponent. Riding the bikes offer high-speed thrills as you weave around massive trees and skim over shimmering water surfaces. The shooting is less satisfying because the guns fire automatically, so you simply aim the reticule. The game will wear you out (there's a lot of jumping), but it makes you feel like an actor in the Star Wars universe, and that's pretty neat. Duels of Fate is similar except this mode is limited to a series of one-on-one lightsaber battles culminating in an encounter with Darth Vader.
The Pod Racing game is my personal favorite. The motion controls feel silky smooth and it's great fun to explore the various landscapes seen in the films. There's even a split-screen mode that's actually playable. Rancor Rampage lets you unleash destruction as a hulking beast in the desert town of Mos Eisley. Leveling buildings and tossing people like rag dolls is fun in theory, but the erratic controls make it look as if you're having convulsions in front of the screen.
Galactic Dance Off may be the goofiest thing I've seen since the Star Wars Holiday Special. It's basically a miniature version of Dance Central except the songs are pop anthems retrofitted with Star Wars lyrics. So instead of Hollaback Girl, it's Hologram Girl, and instead of Genie in a Bottle, it's Princess in a Battle. It's cheesy as hell, but the songs sound professional and watching Leia perform hip thrusts in her gold bikini made me feel kinda funny.
The game's superb audio track features a triumphant musical score and familiar sound effects that are crystal clear. There are a ton of elaborate cut-scenes featuring classic characters with the actual voice actors. Surprisingly, the graphics aren't so hot. They look okay from a distance, but up close objects exhibit blurriness and pixelation. Kinect Star Wars isn't great, but it sure does feel good to play a brand new Star Wars title. There's a lot of content here to explore, and the game has a way of bringing out the little kid in you. © Copyright 2012 The Video Game Critic.
King Kong adds a number of innovations, including the ability to clear brush by setting it on fire, trade weapons with companions, and distract creatures by throwing baited spears. In certain scenes, you yourself must serve as bait for a rampaging "V-Rex" in order to buy time for your friends. But easily the most memorable stage is one where you careen down rapids on a raft with a pair of V-Rexes in hot pursuit on the riverbanks - it's not a scene I'll not soon forget.
Dinosaurs dominate the game, and you'll contend with leaping raptors, stampeding Brontosaurus, and fearsome V-Rexes. Swamps are brimming with hideous underwater creatures, and the sound of scurrying giant millipedes will make your skin crawl as you slosh through water-filled caves. The action is always intense, and sometimes relentlessly so. When I wasn't having a good time, it was only because I was scared to death! In one scene I found myself taking refuge from a V-Rex in some stone ruins, but just when I thought I could rest, the beast began demolishing it, and I just barely escaped as it came crashing down.
While primarily a first-person shooter, there are also several opportunities to wreak havoc as the ape himself. As Kong you can break through walls, swing from trees, climb cliffs, and wrestle dinosaurs. While these stages feel scripted, the simple controls make for a good time nevertheless. The B button allows Kong to pull off small creatures that latch onto him, and tapping A initiates a finishing move. When these gargantuan creatures lumber around and crash into each other, they convey a true sense of size and mass.
The game also succeeds without the use of artificial constructs such as cut scenes, tutorials, screen indicators, maps, and recycled stage designs. Your companions carry on conversations, fight by your side, and keep you on course. The difficulty is perfectly tuned, and seems to adjust dynamically. Objectives are readily apparent, and even after losing a life, you always pick up very close to where you left off. The control scheme is so intuitive that I didn't even look at the manual. Stages are ideal in length, with minimal load times.
While King Kong is nearly a perfect game, there is the occasional glitch of a creature becoming stuck in the scenery. Gamers with an aversion to first-person action may want to pass on this game, because the dark, rainy environments and frantic action can make it hard to get your bearings. Finally, after completing this harrowing journey it's unlikely you'll want to replay this game anytime soon, although it is possible to play individual stages for score. King Kong is one of the most immersive and memorable games I've experienced. Brilliant on the 360, I hear it's nearly as impressive on the Xbox, PS2, and Gamecube. © Copyright 2006 The Video Game Critic.
The gameplay has been simplified somewhat, shedding many of the extraneous gauges and indicators that have crept into the series over the years (hooray!). It's easy to grasp and undeniably fun when played head-to-head. The animation is fluid, and subtle scaling effects ensure you get the closest possible view of the action. The eye-pleasing locales include a bright stadium (and a night version), an Egyptian stage, a Chinese marketplace, and a Christmas-themed Moscow.
The vibrant colors are appealing, but these vast stages lack the intimate details that gave the old ones so much character. Some stages even feature lighting effects, and while that's certainly novel for a 2D fighter, it can make it hard to see what's going on. I don't mind having fewer fighters to select from, but why only five stages!? C'mon now!
The arcade mode is disappointing because instead of competing for points, you try to complete five rounds in the least amount of time. Perhaps this was necessitated by the game's modest number of stages? In addition, the default "normal" CPU difficulty is far too easy for King of Fighters fans. SNK must have focused their efforts on the on-line mode, because the off-line content is positively skimpy. At its core, King of Fighters XII gets the job done, but I was expecting more. © Copyright 2009 The Video Game Critic.
The headliner is Castlevania: Symphony of the Night, and it's nothing to sneeze at. Originally released for the Playstation in 1997, this is widely considered to be the best Castlevania title of the entire series. On the strength of this title alone, KCV1 is well worth the price. An option is included to play with "enhanced" (smoothed out) graphics, but in my opinion the pixelated "classic" visuals have far more character. With its fluid animation, gothic scenery, and operatic score, the game plays like a symphony! It's sizable in scope, and despite its frequent save points, the game is no pushover. The remaining two titles on the disk don't carry nearly as much weight.
Super Contra is the arcade version of Super C (NES, 1990), and it provides challenging side-scrolling and overhead shooting action. The control takes a little getting used to, as I often found myself shooting downwards instead of assuming a prone position. The third title, Frogger, is a high-definition remake of the classic cross-the-road game. It pales to the original, suffering from a variety of technical ailments including unresponsive controls, poor collision detection, and even slow-down! It looks like a Flash game, and let's face it - that's a major turn-off. Fortunately, you can switch over to the "original mode", which looks and plays like the original arcade hit.
The overall design of this package is poor. The games are treated just like downloaded titles, so you'll need to load them separately and re-sign into your profile each time. And while two of the games feature high score tables, high scores are not saved. I guess my 80 GB hard disk wasn't big enough for that! The navigational controls are confusing, often prompting you to press start when in fact you're required to press A. There seems to be an inordinate amount of loading and disk chugging considering how modest these games are.
All game screens are cropped to preserve their original formats, with decorations used to fill out the wide screen. The disk contains no bonus materials at all, which is a shame considering the impressive pedigrees of these titles. Konami Classics Volume 1 is worthwhile on the strength of Symphony, but Konami's handling of these titles is shameful. © Copyright 2010 The Video Game Critic.
Granted, the games aren't bad. Contra is the arcade version of the side-scrolling shooter most gamers remember from the NES. Heck, I didn't even know there was an arcade version! The 2D run-and-gun action is undeniably fun, although the 360 digital pad is inferior to the original NES controller. Rush N Attack provides a similar brand of one-man-army action, with tight controls and bright snowy scenery. You'll want to check out the "enhanced" graphic mode to enjoy some gorgeous mountain backdrops and gently falling snow.
Rush N Attack seems simplistic at first as you stab everyone in the foot, but the ability to juggle weapons provides some strategy. Track and Field is the button-tapping Olympic game with a variety of events that support up to four players. Its controls are problematic however, because if you hit the wrong button (or touch the thumbstick), your athlete slows to a crawl. Your game ends abruptly if you don't qualify for an event, and it's hard to qualify. If a game ever needed a difficulty setting, it's this one, but it's nowhere to be found.
KCV2 has a rather hostile user interface that requires each player to sign in, and then constantly reminds you that your high scores will not be saved. You can still unlock "accomplishments", but c'mon now - that's not how these games were meant to be played!! Upon exiting a game, instead of taking you to a main menu, it kicks you back to the 360 "game library" screen (ugh!). I love the idea of owning "hard copies" of classic games, but this deal is a little hard to swallow. © Copyright 2010 The Video Game Critic.
When the action begins you'll see a live video image of you standing in a field. Depending on your proximity to the Kinect, your fighter may appear cut off below the knees, but that's okay. Skeletal monsters approach from both sides, and you'll fend them off using punches, kicks, ducks, flips, and even flying kicks! The stages take place in locations you'd find in an old-school brawler: docks, city streets, a swamp, and a laboratory.
The collision detection is pretty good, and it's fun to battle spear-toting guys in masks, towering musclemen, flaming demons, and slimy swamp creatures. The fighting looks a little odd because you're staring at the screen instead of your enemies. One really clumsy aspect of the game is side-to-side movement. The back flip is effective (just throw your arms up), but most of the time you'll move by executing two-hand power punches (causing you to lunge forward). It's impossible to move with any precision, and blocking is equally difficult.
The game doesn't really reward you for being adventurous. I did better when I stuck with normal punches than when I busted my ass trying to execute Van Damme-style roundhouse kicks. The difficulty is uneven, and I was stuck on stage two (the docks) until my friend Steve unleashed his inner ninja. Kung-Fu High Impact is unlike anything I've ever seen, and it will make you work up a sweat. The controls are a little rough, but they're good enough if you're in the mood for some goofy fun. © Copyright 2013 The Video Game Critic.