Since the launch of the Kinect in November of 2010, the peripheral has been faced with just as much criticism as praise. Hardcore gamers have been especially critical because a majority of the games are designed with little kids or casual gamers in mind. Fortunately, fitness apps and voice command have made the peripheral more than just an outlet for silly motion control. With the hardcore gamer in mind, here’s a list of some of the more underrated Kinect games on the Xbox 360.
Red Bull Crashed Ice (Price: $5)
Released a few days ago with little to no fanfare, this advergame is surprisingly fun to play. The basic concept is that you are a racer in the crazy sport of ice-cross downhill. What might that be? Imagine downhill skiing on a course made of ice, while riding on skates. The game (and sport) mixes hockey, dirt bike racing, and snowboarding tricks like those in SSX. While the game is an obvious promotion for Red Bull, the concept is perfect for Kinect and requires the expense of a lot of energy. The controls aren’t perfect and the content won’t have you playing much single player after about a week. However, throwing this $5 game in the mix of a family party or late night drinking event will entertain and intrigue sufficiently.
Home Run Stars (Price: $10)
Another XBLA Kinect Game, Home Run Stars flew under a lot of gamers’ radars because it lacked any of the promotional hype that we’ve all become accustomed to. As a reviewer, this came to me via e-mail and I had to research what the hell I was being sent. It turns out that developer Smoking Gun Interactive put together a simple but addictive baseball game. Home Run Stars plays like an imaginative home run derby that pulls in some of the best aspects of games like The Bigs, Super Baseball 2020 (look it up!), and Pinball. This game is a blast for baseball fans, kids, and gamers looking for a fun party game. At $10 this game is a steal and, like Crashed Ice, is ideal for parties looking for simple and interactive games with competition built in. Also, this game uses the new Smart Glass App to great success.
Fable: The Journey (Price: $50)
A few weeks back I wrote a review of this game and slapped it with a 6 out of 10. While my opinion on the game hasn’t changed, as far as Kinect games go, Fable: The Journey is still one of the most entertaining experiences on the system. The majority of Kinect games lack a narrative; they lack the emotions and the character engagement of a good story. So, despite Fable: The Journey’s control issues, this game is definitely worth your time. My recommendation is to wait for the game to come down in price or buy it used. The short gameplay means little replay value, but for $20 this game is an underrated steal.
Happy Action Theater (Price: $10)
Easily the simplest game made for Kinect, Double Fine’s Happy Action Theater is the easiest demo software for the power of the Kinect. Like Wii Sports was for the Wii, Happy Action Theater is the perfect game to explain to friends and family the benefits and joy of playing with Kinect. Through a series of brief mini-games, even the most hardened grump will crack a smile and have a ball. While the game is short, it plays perfectly for parties and casual gamers. For the hardcore there is less to enjoy here; but for hardcore gamers with young kids, it is a great option to play because it caters to both demographics.
Alex Keen is a contributor to CraveOnline. You can follow him on Twitter @dbldn.