Xbox 360 Review: Kinectimals

PROOF that cute and cuddly can work in games…

I’m a hardcore gamer as you will know, but I have a confession to make…I enjoyed Viva Piñata. I wasn’t too keen on Nintendogs, but there’s been a gap in the market for a console version that makes you connect with your animal and Kinectimals is that game…or is it?

You are a traveller on the island and are greeted by a mysterious fairly-like creature that tells you to adopt an animal, but there’s actually a deep adventure shoved into Kinectimals. The island is home to mini-games, treasure and collectables…plus the more you do, the more explorer points you earn and more areas of the map opens up. It wasn’t at all what I was expecting…

To progress you’ll need to teach your Kinectimals tricks, play toys with them like football, Frisbee, fetch and even driving an RC Car. You can also search the ground for items for your Kinectimal to dig up. You’ll come across mini-games that use the items you find like one makes you kick incoming footballs at targets, or another makes you knock over items with a tennis ball. Each has a score target to reach for different medals and money that can be used in the Shop to decorate your home and buy more toys.

Interacting with your Kinectimal is incredibly easy, but the game does hold your hand for the majority of it, telling you what to do to learn new tricks and so on. You can stroke your Kinectimal, clean it and even create a name that it can respond to via Kinect’s microphone. While none of these are new, Kinect makes them feel more interactive and the game really engages you as a player to interact with your Kinectimals.

It’s not flawless though, the accuracy of throwing items is low and takes some getting used to as you try and hit objects. It also becomes a bit repetitive after a while, but sure enough you’ll come across another mini-game or trick that will add something extra to your experience. There’s quite a bit of replay value involved as you try and hunt down every piece of treasure and explore the entire island, I’m actually shocked that I found myself enjoying the game as much as I have…

The visual style is of course, aimed towards younger gamers. But it’s very well done and although simplistic, there’s a nice level of detail to be found on the island and the Kinectimals are (can’t believe I’m using this word…) adorable. You will grow attached to them as you see them learn new tricks and skills. Voice-acting is mixed, but the music is surprisingly catchy for a kid’s game.

The Verdict

Kinectimals is the cutest game I’ve player all year, but it’s also highly enjoyable. Younger and older gamers will have a great time exploring the island, learning tricks and hunting down treasure while interacting with your Kinectimals. It’s a great example of how Kinect can be used to make you feel like a part of the game itself, something that most of the other titles have been lacking. I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that this is the best Kinect game I’ve played so far, without question.