by Wencke Schuncken
author awarded score: 85/100

kinectimals Review
Developer: Frontier Developments
Publisher: Microsoft Game Studios
Format Reviewed: Xbox360
Reviewed by: Wencke Schuncken

If you ever experienced the pleasure of taking care of a little virtual pet such as in the DS game Nintendogs for example, well, then wave to the real deal; Kinectimals! Purr, purr, here kitty kitty. Already excited to meet your new owner? I'll promise to take good care of you, you little cuddly tiger.

 kinectimals female gamers review

Kinect, connects the visual world literally with the gamer. And what kind of game would be perfect to check out the Kinect controlling? What kind of game is suitable for the whole family? What kind of game brings furry happiness into your living room without any unnecessary “hassle” of having real animals? It's Kinectimals! Don't get me wrong about that last statement, with two cats in the house and had many dogs in the past, I understand that a virtual pet needs a lot of attention but certainly not as much as a real pet.

With a Kinect profile already created, it's easy to start a cuddling and fun experience. Just wave and move your hand on the spot to start the game. In a short, cinematic animation you'll get excited as the animals about your arrival at the Lemuria Island. The animation and its graphics look way better than for example the movie Madagascar. The made link to this movie is simply unavoidable when watching the animation with the varied animals such as a ring-tailed lemur. (Lemur, Lemuria, get the link?)

 kinectimals female gamers review

A very cute character called Bumble welcomes you to the Island Lumeria. Bumble came on this island together with Captain Blackwood in search of a special treasure. Not only was Bumble a big help to him, but also a few cubs helped him out trying to find fragments of a treasure map that may lead to the mysterious treasure. He didn't succeed though, but maybe you can. In any way, Bumble explains everything you need to know to create a wonderful experience together with those cuddly cubs.

The most difficult decision is to choose which of the five cubs is going to be your treasure helping buddy? Choose between a tiger, leopard, cheetah, black panther and a lion cub. Which one is going to be a friend for life, according to the achievement. Well it's an achievement worth, to make such a difficult decision as they all look adorable. You can give your little one a name by pronouncing it twice and checking if the cub likes it. You can also give it a personal picture!

 kinectimals female gamers review

Together with your cub and Bumble you're going on a playful, treasure hunting adventure. Bumble guides you through the playfield and explains everything you need to know. By interacting with your cub such as playing, cuddling, washing and doing tricks, discovery points are added to your account. On top of the screen a bar indicates how many points are gathered and should be gathered to open new parts of the island and to explore it. While playing with a rubber chicken or any other toy, challenges become available to earn extra points. These are mini-games in which you need to throw down domino stones, hit objects, drive your cub on mini-car on a racing track, destroy objects and keep a ball in play together with your cub. If you meet the mini-games requirements, you'll be rewarded with bronze, silver or gold medals, money and goodies such as new toys and avatar clothing awards.

Lemuria Island is more than just a playground. It also contains a little house and a store which has new items on a daily basis. The store has varied items such as food and toys but also furniture to decorate your house. Some can be bought, but some items need to get unlocked first by getting retrieving a medal in a mini-game. The house is rather small, so do not expect too much of the decoration feature. Each treasure and medal is stored in the house to make you feel proud of your achievements.

 kinectimals female gamers review

With the new way of controlling a Kinect game, I'm impressed how well it works. You can learn your cub 12 different tricks by using your body. Not only can your arms throw toys, drive a car, let your cub roll from side to side, but your legs also play a part in controlling. For example you need to play football, jump to let your cub jump and kneel to let the cub sit. The controlling is very easy and understandable, which is very good for the younger gamers, as this game is especially suitable for them. Older gamers certainly can enjoy it as well and it also demonstrates the Kinect possibilities as it responds to voice, moves, and even scanning pluche toys to bring a new cub or toy into play is possible. (Note: only Kinectimals pluche toys with a special Microsoft Tag scan code can be used, which are included in the Limited Edition of Kinectimals)

As stated in the beginning it's hard to decide which cub to pick as a companion, but once you explore more of the island, those little cuties return. Also through gameplay a white jaguar, bobcat, Siberian Tiger and even a Saber-tooth tiger can be unlocked to play with. By then you can decide to chance the cub you were playing with, with another one. Once again an opportunity to teach tricks like jumping, turning in place, playing dead, thus mainly having lots of fun.

 kinectimals female gamers review

Kinectimals is a superb Kinect game which demonstrates that controls are very well handled by our body parts, voice and behavior. Although the game is targeting at a younger audience, I was very pleased given the chance to experience it. And I must admit that it made me smile, it's heartwarming for your soul, fun to do all activities with an easy reward system in place, and cool to see that your body is the controlling factor. But one small warning should be given to cat owners as cats react to the purring sound that the cubs produce and want to check out the TV. But what else can you expect with en excellent created pet sim game?!