Last year, the Kinect launched alongside one of the most cute and adorable games around, Kinectimals. Still one of the most kid friendly games on the Kinect, Kinectimals hopes to continue that magic with the addition of Bears. Microsoft Studios is releasing “Kinect Now with Bears!” in two formats. For those that never partook in the original, the entire game, with bears, is available in retail stores. For those that have the original Kinectimals, the additional Bear portion can be downloaded for $14.99 worth of Microsoft points.
Kinectimals, as a whole, is still one of the best displays of the Kinect technology. There are a myriad of activities that you perform along with your animal. Throwing balls, catching butterflies, running obstacle courses, and driving RC cars are just a few of the many things you will find yourself doing. All of these activities are kept fresh by changing environments, adding various objectives with each activity, and even presenting certain challenges to overcome.
The premise of the original game, and this game too, is adventure. You start by adopting which animal you want, naming it, and walking into the first area of play and discovery. The more you play with your animal, the more areas you can unlock and the more toys you are given to play with.
The addition of the bears is seamless. Most extra content usually feels tacked on, but that is not the case with this game. Whether you are getting this game for the first time off the shelf or downloading just the bear island portion, you will have a complete and unified game.
Immediately from the beginning, you can pick to play with the cats or play with the bears. Sorry, bears and cats must stay on their own islands. There are six discovery areas on the cat island and two full discovery areas on the bear island. There is actually a third discovery area on the bear island, but is really only used for a big challenge and to wrap-up the game’s story.
The game adds even more voice control with this game. Once you name your pet, you can command it to do tricks while training or performing with it. Certain menus have voice recognition, such as the “yes” and “no” menus. You can also open your map with a shout of, “open map”. I am a little confused why they didn’t add this to more menu options, such as when finishing a contest. I would think it would have been easy enough to add “finish” and “play again”, but maybe I’m just being a bit picky here.
The only other nitpick I have with the game is the lack of decorating and shopping with the bears. On the cat’s island, you can shop for more toys and decorations for your house. The bear’s living quarters are given on an ‘as-is’ basis. You can’t buy a jukebox dresser and you can’t get a light-up fishing-pole. Shopaholics will be slightly disappointed here.
Another previous favorite, the obstacle course, is missing on bear island. On the cat island, after completing the activities of each of the six areas, you were given an obstacle course activity. These weren’t mandatory, but were great for unlocking rewards, earning money, and burning calories.
With all that said, there is a decent amount of content added with the bear addition. These are quite talented bears. They can do everything the cats can do and more. The unique activities to bears are: tree climbing, juggling, and fishing. Of course, the bears have their own sets of cute tricks to learn.
To further continue the experience, you can now also buy your own plush Kinectimals feline at Toys R Us or other retail stores. The toys have a scan tag that lets you bring the plush animal right into the game. To take it a step further, Build-A-Bear is also featuring special Kinectimal bears. Build the bear, scan it in, and play with it. Just a note, the plush cat toy will scan in and behave just like the other cats. The Build-A-Bear animals are actually stuffed animals that you play with. Yes, the stuffed animals juggle, fish, and do everything else the real bears do.
In reviewing Kinect games, I look for the five f’s: fitness, fun, functionality, family, and firsts. Surprisingly, this game will get you moving. Sure this isn’t a fitness game by nature, but with the large amount of activities and challenges, you will be moving every part of your body. This game is extremely fun to play and is the perfect go-to after a stressful day. As mentioned before, this game is the perfect display of the Kinect’s functionality. Kicking, throwing, tossing, climbing, running, and more are all done spot-on. As for family, this game is great for all age groups. My kids have been playing this since they were 3 & 4 and I enjoy it almost as much, if not more. This was one of the first kids games for the Kinect and still remains as a must-have in your library of family games.
Overall, if you are on the hunt for something for the entire family to enjoy, you should definitely check out “Kinectimals Now with Bears!” If you already have the original Kinectimals and have enjoyed it, then you can download the bear portion with confidence. ”Kinectimals Now with Bears!” is not only one of the best family games around, it is one of the best Kinect games that you can own.
To talk about this game or comment on the review, please come on over to our ‘Kinect to Fitness and Health’ SparkPeople group, located here.