Tonight, my kids and I went to Disneyland. Well, we didn't actually go to Disneyland, but instead we went to the virtual Disneyland, via the Xbox 360 and that magical device that is almost Disney-inspired, the Kinect. Well, we tried at least.
You should know by now, if you've been following my blog, how I feel about the Kinect. If not, let me just say this: I like the idea of it, but it just doesn't work nearly as good as advertised. Ever. Like seriously, it never works good. There have been a couple of fun game for it, but even those suffer from technological deficiencies. With rumors of the Kinect 2.0 coming packed in with the next-generation Xbox console, you can only imagine my excitement for having this shoved down my throat even more so than now. Yeah...
Anyway, this game is OK, for kids at least. Again, like the hardware, this game seems good on paper, but just doesn't work as good as it should. Of course, I was trying to play with a seven year old and a four year old, so that may have had something to do with it.
The premise is simple. You play as a kid wandering around Disneyland park (unsupervised, I might add), collecting coins, meeting Disney characters and doing odd jobs for them like finding a hat or posing for a picture with another character, in hopes of earning golden tickets. The game shows Disneyland in all its brilliance, too, and it actually looks really nice. There are crowds and everything (though not nearly as bad as I imagine them to be), trying to stay true to the illusion that you are at the park. You even participate in mini-games based on the popular attractions there at the park, which is really cool for those who can't actually go to the park to experience them.
The camera just didn't pick us up at all, and it was chore most of the time to complete the easiest of tasks and gestures. It almost felt like an exercise game, with the amount of wasted motion just to accomplish one goal, solely based on how inaccurate it was and how bad of a job it did of continuously not recognizing us. It was a struggle, to say the least. But the kids had fun, for the most part, and that's the most important thing, right?
So I bet you're wondering why I played this game tonight, right? Well, it was the equivalent of pre-funking before going out to the clubs. I was trying to experience, and let the kids experience, Disneyland, before tomorrow, when we actually GO TO DISNEYLAND! Yes, for our vacation, the wifey and I are taking the kids to Disneyland for almost a week. We fly out at the crack of dawn Thursday morning en route to beautiful Southern California to go visit the most magical place on earth. The best part of it all?
The kids don't know we are going. At all. They have no clue what's about to go down. We have completely planned this vacation, top to bottom, in secret. We are even packing for them tonight and getting everything ready to go. All they know is that they are taking me to the airport because I have to "go away for work." And I didn't even tell them that until tonight, when I had them go to bed earlier than usual. When we get there, I will have them get out to say their goodbyes, and then spring it on them. With any luck, their reactions are going to be amazing. But being as it will be 5 am, there is a chance their excitement might be overshadowed by sheer exhaustion. It can go either way at this point.
When I told them I had to leave, the first thing they asked was if I was going to be back for Easter. It broke my heart to lie to them and tell them I wasn't sure, but I would try, even thought I know the truth! I couldn't imagine being away from my kids for a holiday, so for all those parents who make that great sacrifice for their obs or other legit and uncontrollable circumstances (and not just because they are deadbeats), I commend you, because wow, that must be the hardest thing in the world.
So there you have it. I will keep up on my blogs while I'm there, but don't expect the most insightful or lengthy posts. I have all my games picked out in advance, so that's helpful at least. And I won't be on twitter much at all, but when I am, it will be to post pictures and videos of our vacation, I'm sure. So I apologize in advance for being that guy. Also, I will have the video of us surprising them up online as well, hopefully YouTube and facebook, so be on the lookout for that, if interested.
Wish me luck, friends. As long as I have a better time at the real Disneyland than I did tonight in the virtual one, it should be an amazing vacation. Ciao!
If you read my blog posting yesterday, you'll remember I talked about wanting to try a daily fitness routine using a Kinect game. Well, I figured, that I might as well try it out, instead of just talking about thinking about trying it. So, with that being said, I thought I would give UFC Personal Trainer for the Xbox 360, a Kinect game a chance to be that game.
Now, I don't go to a gym. I've been really been a gym guy, but I have thought about it now and then. But like everyone else who doesn't go to a gym, I have plenty of excuses. The biggest one, and most logical, is my lack of time at this point. With having a full time job, and my lovely wife working two jobs, that leaves me at home with the kids all evening. Sure, I could go after 10 pm, or wake up super early and go before work, but I'm mentally and physically exhausted as it is. I know, I know ... it's just all excuses, and I should just get up and go do it. But ehhhhhh...
So I've had UFC Personal Trainer sitting around for a while. My lovely, better half mentioned one time about being interested in fitness video games after seeing one on a commercial or something, so despite her not liking video games at all, I thought it was a great idea to get it for her. Well, she never used it. Not once. Hell, I don't think the disc has ever been taken out of the case until tonight.
I got all ready for my first of maybe many nights training using the oh-so-wonderful Kinect. I moved the couch back, turned on all the lights, moved the coffee table out of the way and threw on some basketball shorts. Basically, I had a whole pre-training workout before the training. Thanks, Kinect! I love having to rearrange my entire game room just to use you!!!
I struggled to get through all the menus, using Kinect hand and voice gestures, of course. Once I did, and got my profile selected and stats put in, it was time to do the first training test to see where I stood physically, I guess. And that's exactly when the wheels fell off this whole attempt to play this game.
The camera stopped recognizing me, and I would constantly have to re-select my profile. That of course was a chore in itself, and would take me out of the game itself each time. Then I was having trouble staying the view of the camera, as it instructed me to lay down on the ground sideways, for a sit-up drill, but wanted me to wave and hold my cursor hand over the "NEXT" button. This, quite simply, is impossible to do from the ground. Once I finally got past that, and started the sit-up drill, I would constantly be too low for the camera to see, having to go to the profile selection screen each time. I tried moving farther away (which is never an issue with the Kinect), but then it couldn't pick up what I was doing at all.
I was stuck in Kinect Hell, Sensor Limbo.
Forty-five minutes later, I still hadn't completed the full first work-out, due to all the stupid complications. After all that, I had enough. I moved everything back and realized that I literally did do more working setting up and breaking down the room to play this stupid game than I did in the game itself.
I hate the Kinect. I hate it with a passion. Again, I will reiterate the fact that had I not got it for free in a giveaway, I still would not have this horrible failure of technology. I bet you can guess my excitement over all the rumors of the Kinect 2.0 being packed in with the next Xbox...
There is no question in my mind that I can firmly, unequivocally say UFC Personal Trainer will NOT be that game that I play daily for a workout. I would rather sacrifice even more sleep to go to the gym than play this again. But hey, maybe that is the point anyway?
Let's get to the point. The Kinect for the Xbox 360 sounded good on paper, before it was released. All the tech demos, videos, and hype made it out to be the best gaming invention since analog sticks on a controller.
Well, then it came out. And while it was fun for a bit, to play dancing games with your friends or show off how sorta-well the motion captioning worked, it got old and stale quickly. Then games, regular games, starting implementing Kinect controls into their games for no other reason than Microsoft paid them a bunch of money to do so. Games like Halo, using Kinect to throw grenades simply by yelling out "GRENADE!", and other crap like that. Sure, it was nice, I guess, to have the option to use them, but didn't anyone really utilize them in Mass Effect 3? I would bet not.
I've had some fun with my Kinect, but honestly, if I hadn't won it in a contest, I probably wouldn't own one to this day. My kids have gotten a lot of enjoyment from it, but they have problems using it thanks to the inconsistent camera, iffy lighting in our game room and just not enough space to make it worth while. Sure, we got a Nyko Zoom for the camera, shortening the distance needed for proper connectivity, but it's still hit and miss.
That being said, I decided to try out a Kinect game I've had for a while but never bothered to play ... until now. I tried out Wreckateer, a game I downloaded from the XBLA shop. The concept is simple. You fling ammunition (rocks, cannon balls, explosives, etc.) at castles and try to knock them down, earning more points and medals for doing more and more damage.
Sound familiar? It is. It was only missing some birds and pigs, basically. It's pretty much a straight Angry Birds ripoff, set in medieval times (when else would you use catapults?) and slapped with the motion gaming gimmick.
It was a little fun, for a while. But once the controls started going haywire and the game play got repetitive (which was quickly), I was pretty much done with it. All it made me want to do was play Angry Birds, to be honest. I admire developers for trying with games like these, but I think it's more the Kinect's fault then it is the game's being bad. There have been some good Kinect games, like The Gunstringer, but for the most part, it's filled with a bunch of repetitive gaming.
I know I will probably play a few more Kinect games for this project, and maybe I will try to rope my kids into playing with me to make it a little easier to swallow. Can't say I'm looking forward to it, though. And with talks of an all new Kinect sensor coming with the impending new Xbox system, and while I am cautiously optimistic, I think Microsoft needs to realize that maybe the Kinect isn't the best new innovation in gaming since the analog sticks.
Leave the gaming revolutions to Nintendo.
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Games played for project : 365