Kinect Star Wars preview - Rancors save the day

Kinect Star Wars didn’t leave the greatest impression on many media folks during its E3 2011 unveiling. Still, the development teams have persevered and looked to build up a good series of games, both mini and slightly-above-mini. We hopped in front of a Kinect sensor at Microsoft’s recent Spring Showcase, and we walked away much happier than expected.

What Is It? Kinect Star Wars is a compilation of motion-sensor minigames, mostly steeped in the Clone Wars and prequels universe. It’s family-friendly. In some cases, that might work, depending on whether or not A: you have kids and B: you love them enough to endure the prequels.

Who is the developer? Kinect Star Wars is a joint venture between LucasArts and Terminal Reality. Terminal Reality has developed such games as Bloodrayne and Ghostbusters: The Video Game.

How does it look? It wears its license well-enough. While there are elements that will turn off prequel-haters and there’s a definitely youth-oriented feel, it’s very much Star Wars, and there are some clever riffs on the franchise here.

How does it play? We tried out Podracing last summer, and at Microsoft’s event, we got a glimpse at it in action again (though someone else tried it out). We test drove Jedi Destiny: Dark Side Rising. It’s not as precise as we anticipated, but it doesn’t seem like a mode that’s great to try out while listening to a full rundown of the game’s features. It does, however, handle better than it did a some nine months ago. Our section of the demot took place on Naboo, which is overrun with Clone Troopers. You’ll have to fight your way through them by using Force powers (controlled with your left hand) and your lightsaber (with your right). If you jump, you can leap ahead to nearby enemies and take them down with a lightsaber swipe. If you kick, you’ll move ahead to the nearest opponent. It’s okay to play, but it’s not as charming as Rancor Rampage.

Rancor Rampage is the motion-sensing game you had no idea could exist. It’s, in every sense of the word, a re-skinned, fully 3D, and motion-sensing version of the arcade classic Rampage, though in the role of a Rancor (in this case, that Rancor, from Return of the Jedi) running rampant through Mos Eisley. It means that you can run, jump, destroy buildings, eat pedestrians, and swat down law enforcement (in this case, Stormtroopers) just like you could in the old days. There are enough score-enhancing challenges for you to enjoy it, even in today’s gaming standards. We were giggling giddily as we picked up a service droid after seeing a bonus challenge for tossing it. We handily chucked it 300 feet. It’s responsive, intuitive, and insanely fun.

When is it out? You’ll be able to check out all of the games in store in a few weeks when Kinect Star Wars drops on April 3.

Sterling McGarvey