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Kinectimals review

AT A GLANCE
  • Controller-free pet care
  • Story-driven goals
  • Freaking cute animals
  • Too many object-tossing minigames
  • Activities are hit or miss
  • May be too cute for the serious gamer

Borrowing a page from PlayStation Move’s EyePet, Microsoft has launched the achingly adorable Kinectimals alongside the new motion-sensing peripheral. To avoid suffocating in this entry’s all-consuming cuteness during extended play sessions, we had to continually remind ourselves to play it from a parent’s perspective. You see, the game’s as sweet as that bit of un-dissolved hot chocolate at the bottom of your cocoa mug and as cute as a button sewn onto a cuddly teddy bear sitting in a giant pink beanbag chair.

So, yeah, hardcore gamers need not apply. However, if you’re a 7-year old girl, a crazy cat woman, or a mom’s-basement-dwelling 40-year old who’s “still figuring things out” by all means, jump in! Sarcasm aside, as a lover of all things cute and cuddly, we’re almost ashamed to admit how much fun we had with Kinectimals. In fact, less like a minigame collection and more like an exploration-encouraging adventure, we found Kinect’s pet sim to be its most engaging launch title.

If you’ve petted a Nintendog, bathed a Petz, or taught tricks to that creepy EyePet creature, then you already know what to expect. Like those virtual pet experiences, Kinectimals has you adopting a cuddle-worthy companion, and caring for it. You’ll also play with it, teach it tricks and - if you’re a sap like us - bond with it. Kinectimals begins with players picking from one of several lion or tiger cub breeds. Once selected, you name it and begin petting it with a pair of glowing god-like hands. In addition to purring and reacting to your touch, it’ll learn your voice when you speak its name.

Capitalizing on Kinect’s controller-free approach, the title also tosses in some fun touches, such as the ability to wipe the screen clean when your cub sneezes or breathes on it. Soon enough, you and your pet are up to the usual tricks - playing, feeding, brushing and so on. Nothing new to the genre, but definitely more fun under Kinect’s spell, as cutting out the middle-man motion controller adds noticeable depth to the animal-touching proceedings.

The standard pet sim stuff alone would be enough to get most tykes to dig their fake furry friends, but Kinectimals actually offers quite a bit more. The expected games and activities are anchored in a fantasy-themed story that unfolds on an exotic island. Early on, you’re given a treasure map, left behind by “the kindest pirate that ever lived”, Captain Able Blackwood. As you and your cub complete tasks, games, and challenges, you level up in an ever-so-light RPG way, unlocking new areas to explore on the island’s map. Additionally, each unlocked location holds its own secrets, offering a constant incentive to progress.

While varied and abundant, the individual activities are hit or miss. For one, there are way too many games that involve tossing objects at other objects. However, more engaging games, such as buzzing your cub around on a mini RC car, or running him through an obstacle course, generally make up for the weaker ones. When not caring for your cub, exploring the pretty environments, or playing games, you can use earned coins to buy goods from a Lemur-owned shop - told you the game was cute.

Kinectimals certainly isn’t for everyone, but it’s pretty spot-on for its target audience. The intuitive Kinect controls take the pet sim experience to a new immersion-amping level, the lush jungle visuals are an eye-pleasing treat, and the fun narrative and sandbox-like environments add some welcome depth to the feed-pet-brush-play genre. Oh, and did we mention how irresistibly cute the animals are?

Nov 4, 2010

More Info

Release date: Nov 04 2010 - Xbox 360 (US)
Available Platforms: Xbox 360
Genre: Children's
ESRB Rating:
Everyone

28 comments

  • FoxdenRacing - November 5, 2010 4:15 p.m.

    @BlinkMarksman: Skittles is watching you...she watches you sleep, she watches you eat, she knows when and where you're most vulnerable...
  • Clovin64 - November 5, 2010 12:33 p.m.

    I still say those smiles are waaaaaaaay creepy.
  • batman5273 - November 5, 2010 6:56 a.m.

    Today, I bought a Kinect and Kinectimals. I have daughters ages 6 and 5. They absolutely love this game. The review is spot on. And the game really works well with the Kinect sensor. The only time the game goes crazy is trying to track both my daughters at the same time when they are arguing over whose turn it is or when one is yelling at the other they they are not doing it right. The game is super cute. WAY WAY SUPER CUTE. But it was absolutely worth buying to see the smiles on my kids faces. I also found myself at times. playing an having fun throwing a frisbee or kicking a soccer ball. You do everything with your cub. From teaching it tricks, to looking for treasure, to feeding and bathing, to even being able to drive a Halo unlockable Warthog and Ghost. The little racoon/monkey fairy in the top right corner also was very helpful and patient teaching my daughters the commands to train the kitties. Now if I didn't have kids I would not at all bought this game. But if you have kids, it is worth every cent spent!
  • papergoon - November 5, 2010 4:31 a.m.

    Don't animals poop? Don't tell me you're using your hands to pick em up...
  • QWERTYCommander - November 5, 2010 2:59 a.m.

    SKITTLES!!!
  • ThatGamerDude - November 5, 2010 2:27 a.m.

    You took some of the most beasty ass animals and made them cute and quite possibly retarded, that's a shame. If they made this like some survival game where you have to get away from hungry tigers or some crap like that, then that would have seriously be happy! Anyways I guess its an OK game. Oh well...
  • Crimmy - November 5, 2010 12:04 a.m.

    Yep, going from Gears 2 to Kinectimals. The world's officially whacked.
  • Darkhawk - November 4, 2010 11:01 p.m.

    When you cut a Kinectimal, does it bleed rainbows?
  • scottthompson - November 4, 2010 10:51 p.m.

    They really creep me out because they are SMILING! THEY'RE ABOUT TO EAT MY SOUL!!
  • JADENkOTOR - November 4, 2010 10:41 p.m.

    I have been playing with my Kintectimal (charlie) most of the day and Im starting to believe I may be gay.
  • Helios - November 4, 2010 10:40 p.m.

    Should I be ashamed that I find this to be somewhat interesting?
  • Subtank - November 4, 2010 10:34 p.m.

    As per BlindMarksman, Creeeeeeeeepy.
  • StrayGator - November 4, 2010 10:22 p.m.

    is there any way to unlock KinectiMilo?
  • Robx - November 4, 2010 10:20 p.m.

    What I feel can ONLY be expressed with this picture I HAD to make: http://img600.imageshack.us/img600/993/haloanireach.jpg
  • Scoob - November 4, 2010 10 p.m.

    They need to advertise this now. Saw on TV, an ad for some Move game with a fuzzy monkey. Looked boring as shit compared to this. Not that I want this, but thinking in the perspective of kids who are into Tomagochi or whatever the hell they play these days.
  • BlindMarksman - November 4, 2010 9:44 p.m.

    SERIOUSLY! THEY LOOK LIKE DAMN PEDOS! AND THAT´S SCARING THE CRAP OUTTA ME! I MEAN, LOOK AT THE FIRST PICTURE! THOSE SMILES... THOSE HORRIBLE SMILES... I WILL NEVER SLEEP AGAIN..
  • sofaku - November 4, 2010 9:40 p.m.

    sooo kinectimals is as good as halo reach?
  • SwampRock - November 4, 2010 9:37 p.m.

    now how many little girls and moms are going to read this review I wonder?
  • D0CCON - November 4, 2010 9:33 p.m.

    It's nice to see they rated it based on what it's target audience would think and not on what a cynical hardcore gaming bastard (AKA: all of us) would think .
  • y2kpikachu12 - November 4, 2010 9:24 p.m.

    I doubt i'll be buying Kinect but if I did I definitely couldn't do it with Skittles, way too creepy.

Showing 1-20 of 28 comments

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