There are few franchises that generate more passion than Star Wars. That passion has enabled the series to become successful over multiple mediums, with the series, rooted in film, having toys, books, comics, clothing apparel, television cartoons, radio dramas and of course video games. Of course that passion also has the unwanted effect of laying expectations for these endeavors and for a very vocal contingent of fans to speak out when those expectations are not met. Kinect Star Wars probably will not meet the expectations of most of those fans, unless they are six years old, or me.
Kinect Star Wars has a few modes of play but the primary one is a character action game, complete with a familiar storyline, where players are tasked with performing simplistic platforming actions, and battling in close quarter situations using the motion control features of the Kinect. Due to the limitations of the device, the game is a fairly straightforward on-rails experience, reminiscent of light gun games like Time Crisis, but with a melee focus instead of ranged combat. Everything is very much timing based and enemies will give very distinct tells to how they plan to attack making combat for experienced gamers a cinch, when it works.
The Kinect device works best with overly exaggerated movements but sword fighting is a subtle art and trying to reconcile the two can be somewhat frustrating. Combined with some nasty input lag, battles against more complex opponents can be somewhat tedious. However, despite being very simplistic and occasionally frustrating, there is something inherently satisfying about performing the familiar Jedi motions and getting a tangible result on the screen.
There is also something exhilarating about jumping on a speeder bike with Yoda on your back and driving at high speeds through the forests of Kashyyk. Sure I would have preferred it to be on Endor, with Princess Leia holding on as I chased down stormtroopers but even so, the sequence made me feel like a five year old again.
In addition to Destiny of the Jedi, there are a few other modes of play that may or may not make one cringe. While stuff like podracing and lightsaber dueling will more than likely get passes for being “true” Star Wars activities, the ire of many a fan will be unfairly directed at Rancor Rampage and Galactic Dancing. Sure they may seem like stupid modes to have in a Star Wars game but they are also full of stupid fun. Picking up troopers and swallowing them whole is a ton of fun, as is dancing with Han, Lando and Leia to “popular” songs reworked with Star Wars themed lyrics. Come on, who does not want to do the “Trash Compactor” move
Gaming as an art form is expanding and moving forward. Kinect Star Wars does not do anything to push the genre forward but just like in film, music and literature, gaming needs products that are just for fun and bring a smile to the player’s face. Kinect Star Wars does this. Yes, the game has problems but its ability to tangibly deliver on my inner five year old’s desire to be a Jedi and ride a speeder bike, while also providing a bucketful of laughs is all that I needed out of this game. Hopefully other gamers will be able to remember that feeling and jump in their Falcon with a Wookie at their side too.
3 / 5
My six year old son loves Star Wars, so he eagerly jumped at the opportunity to help out with this Kids Corner review. I popped the disc in the tray and away he went. When playing other games, I need to navigate the menus for him and give him guidance on how to play, however Kinect Star Wars was designed in such a way that he was easily able to coordinate the menus with no problems. While there are certainly criticisms that can be levied at the Kinect and Kinect Star Wars in particular, interfacing is not one of them.
The majority of his play time was spent in the campaign mode as he enjoyed adventuring as a Padawan. While I found the character action portion to be rudimentary and on rails, he found it to be engaging and challenging, and as a result, he has played the game enraptured for hours on end. In fact while talking to him about his experience I found out that he was confronting battles in a completely different way than I was. Where I would take enemies head on, memorizing attack patterns and timing my attacks accordingly, my son would utilize the environment allowing The Force to do much of the hard work for him. His favorite aspect of the entire game was being able to use his innate Force abilities.
As much as he enjoyed the campaign mode, the rest of the game was a bit hit or miss with him. He found the podracing to be fun but too hard for him to actually do well at it. Rancor Rampage on the other hand was something he really liked. He was even persuaded to allow his older sister to play with him and the two wreaked havoc as a pair of snarling rancors. The dancing was something he showed very little interest in and while he enjoyed the dueling mode, he seemed to find it a bit more challenging than he would have liked.
The campaign and Rancor Rampage are enough to make him happy for quite some time and there are few things that are as amusing to watch as a very passionate six year old Star Wars fan living out his dreams.
4 / 5
Microsoft came out in front of Kinect Star Wars making claims that the game was not for all gamers. I understand the sentiment but then again there are hardly any games that are for all gamers. Kinect Star Wars is for people who are looking for a game to play on their Kinect. It is also for fans of the series that do not mind that it sometimes pokes fun of itself and are just looking to have a good time, acting like a fool in front of their television. And most importantly, it is for six year old boys (and girls) that have not yet become the bitter sarlacc pits that many Star Wars fans have become.
- Tangibly realizes the dreams of our six year old selves
- Highly entertaining for the young’uns
- Does not take itself seriously
- Noticeable input lag
- Actual gameplay is overly simplistic for anyone over the age of six
3 / 5