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Fantastic Pets

James Batchelor

Fantastic Pets

With its camera-based tech, it’s a surprise there’s not been a Kinect game that uses augmented reality.

That all changes this month with THQ’s Fantastic Pets, which seemingly brings virtual creatures into the real world.

Pet games continue to be popular, with the likes of Nintendogs + Cats and EyePet performing strongly. And that’s not to mention Kinect’s very own launch title, Kinectimals.

THQ’s new IP allows kids and families to see themselves on-screen along with a number of imaginative creatures. It also correlates with Microsoft’s ongoing push to make Xbox 360 more family-friendly via Kinect.

“As the first augmented reality title on Kinect, Fantastic Pets offers a highly interactive fantasy experience that erases the line between the virtual and real worlds,” THQ’s product manager Emma Reader tells MCV.

“The game puts players on-screen where their movements and voice commands allow them to play side-by-side with a pet of their own creation, choosing from a pony, cat, dog or lizard.”

As players progress, these domestic animals can even be transformed into mythical beings such as unicorns and dragons, which can be customised further from head to tail.

Creature comforts

The core gameplay in Fantastic Pets comprises of mini-games and activities – such as shooting balls through hoops, racing and playing throw and catch with the user’s pet.

Voice recognition means players can also issue commands to their friends in certain games and talent shows, in order to rise up the ranks of a professional pet trainer. They can unlock items and activities, as well as take pictures of themselves and their pets.

On-screen multiplayer also allows several players and pets to appear on-screen at once.

An Xbox Live demo and marketing campaign – which includes a partnership with kids’ website Swapit (see ‘Swap shop’ and ‘Bringing Pets to market’) – will drive interest to Fantastic Pets.

With its cute appeal and swish augmented reality features, Fantastic Pets could make a big impact on Kinect. The game arrives in time for the Easter break, providing retailers with a strong gift idea for parents.

Bringing Pets to market

Fantastic Pets will be backed by advertisements in a range of children’s magazines, as well as competitions on radio stations and kids’ websites. Retailers will also have access to POS materials including dummy inlays, cubes and posters.

Swap shop

THQ has teamed up with kids and teen website Swapit which allows users to exchange items, such as DVDs, music, gadgets and games. A dedicated microsite will drive sales of Fantastic Pets, with buyers of the game receiving 50 Swapit points.

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