The world's games press have for the first time had some hands-on fun with Microsoft's initial range of Kinect (formerly Natal) titles and if one thing's clear it's that the platform holder has big mass-market casual gamer aspirations with its new technology.
Leading the line-up is Kinect Sports. Though MS will no doubt deny it, the inspiration for the title is clear – it doesn't want anyone buying Kinect to feel as if they're missing out on the Wii Sports experience.
Developed by Rare and making big use of Xbox 360's avatars (a system that the UK studio itself devised). Mini-games on show included Hurdles, which requires users to run on the spot and jump over obstacles.
Interestingly, success is measured not be speed of movement but by how many calories the player burns. Kinect is able to detect your total body movement and calculate energy burn accordingly.
Also available was a bowling title that, despite concerns about Natal's precision, seemed to allow for the nuances you'd expect such as spin.
Next up was Harmonix's Kinect title Dance Central, which seemed to receive the best reception from attendees at Microsoft's event. Users are required to mimic the on-screen moves of stars such as Lady Gaga. The mass-market appeal of the title is obvious, and technically it appeared to run well.
Joy Ride has been in the pipeline for a while now and works very much as you would expect/ Players must ‘hold' an imaginary steering wheel to control the on-screen action.
The visually impressive Kinect Adventures is being developed by Natal creator Kudo Tsunoda and is home to the ‘Ricochet' and ‘River Rush' demos that MS had previously touted. Though its branding would suggest otherwise, Kinect Adventures is in reality another mini-game collection – and one that many seemed to be having more trouble getting to grips with than some of the other titles on show.
In what may well be the first of many Kinect-specific fitness games, Your Shape: Fitness Evolved rounded off the bunch – and was more than simply a little evocative of existing titles on rival systems. Copying the on-screen actions was very much the order of the day, though a number of muscle-testing mini-games were also demonstrated.
It's easy to imagine Kinect being a big success with the same sort of audience who already enjoy the Wii, but expect the specialist press to dwell on the stern technical questions that are already being asked about the new Xbox 360 technology.