And yet, as they say at the Wall, winter is coming. I know it. And it’s best to be prepared. Especially if you have kids.
As a follow up to my review on the Kinect for Xbox 360, I wanted to talk about some of the best games to keep the kids from bouncing off the walls during those homebound winter days — or even just as a fun substitute for board games during family game night. I’ll be judging these games based on how much fun my daughter and I had with them together, which ones she likes to play the most and, finally, which ones I couldn’t stop playing after she went to bed.
First up, Kinect Adventures. Wow.
As I said in my review of the system, I wasn’t really expecting much in the way of the controller-less game “seeing” my body and mimicking my moves on screen. I was overwhelmed. And this game is one of the reasons why. Basically, you can team up with a buddy and do all sorts of things, like white-water rafting or dodgeball. Emme and I had the most fun on the raft, having to move from side to side or duck or jump to make it work. Each “ride” is about a minute and a half, and after three rides, we were spent. Seriously, panting, sweating, giggling. We were messes. It was so much fun to have to use teamwork to get the raft moving in the proper direction, but we really had to work to make it happen. It was great. We had as much fun on a rail-car obstacle course. To make it go faster, you have to jump, and again, at the end of the level, we were beat. I was surprised at just how active you have to be to make the games work. I started using some of these games as a warm-up for my triathlon training — that’s how difficult they can be. I am all for that type of activity.
Then there’s Kinect Sports Season 2. From football to baseball to darts (not a favorite) to golf, you can basically play a whole host of fun, popular games. We had a lot of fun with football, between calling the plays and then having to throw the ball and sprint downfield. Baseball was a little clunky — I wish there was control over the fielders — but the batting was fun. Darts was … darts. You throw stuff at a wall. Yay. Much more fun at a bar. My wife and daughter had a couple fun rounds of golf. But I think the most fun we all had was with skiing. Maybe this was because we liked the Adventures games so much, and you had to do a lot of the same movements with skiing — sliding, jumping, tucking, etc. We had endless races and it was pretty neat to see how quickly the kid picked it up. After just a few rounds, the races were highly competitive. It’s worth it for skiing alone. The rest are just bonuses.
Kinectimals. I thought this game would be the death of me. This was the first game we tried out, and my daughter loved it. Just loved it. But again, first game. She was still trying to figure out how to work the controlling system, so I had to sit there while she got to “pet” a baby tiger. I think sitting there watching someone “pet” a video tiger is about the worst way to spend 10 minutes of your life. Seriously? You still want to pet him? Don’t you want to play, you know, games? But while Kinectimals might seem … odd to parents, kids eat it up. Basically, you have a little baby wildcat avatar and you have to care for it and make it do things and uncover secret treasures and maps in a fun jungle world that is just made for imagination. It took awhile for my daughter to get the hang of it, but once she did, she was hooked. And I began to like it more, too. You can explore all manner of places and do some fun things with your cat. I wish there was more movement involved, but not every game can be so sporty. And it was fun to see her take so much delight from completing tasks and finding new areas of the map to explore. Plus, she really, really began to love her baby tiger.
Full disclosure: I was given these games for free to review. Out of the three, I’d highly recommend two, and mildly recommend one, unless you’re really into petting virtual animals, in which case, go for it.
Don’t miss Babble’s 50 Best iPhone Apps and Games for Kids!