XBLA Review: Kinect Party
By: Casey Curran
I love Double Fine. I really do. I also like the idea of the Kinect even if it has not had the best support. When these two were first together, I had no issue, but it has only gotten progressively worse. Once Upon A Monster was a step down from their usual quality, but it still had a few redeeming qualities. Double Fine Happy Action Theater was at least a small step better than the usual shovelware party games. Kinect Party, however, has convinced me that the company needs an intervention and needs to quit using the Kinect cold turkey.
These are, without a doubt, the worst example of Kinect controls I have ever seen. There is no consistency at all to what I am doing. The screen would show my arm or hand moving through an object, yet nothing happened. I would swing hard through an object and it would register as a strong hit. I would swing very quickly and only see the object on screen lightly hit. I recalibrated my Kinect over and over again. I moved into a different, more open room. It did not change a thing. These controls are broken, plain and simple.
The game’s key feature is to take pictures of you playing and send them to your friends. So it naturally shows you doing these things rather than an avatar, putting all kinds of crazy objects on there as well. I like this idea, but the images displayed of me were terrible. They were worse than a picture taken with a DSi camera. I would feel embarrassed sending a picture that bad to any of my friends.
Sound on the other hand, has not taken a hit at all from Double Fine’s usual standards. Sound effects and music are just as charming as they have ever been, and when combined with sections that remove any images of the real world, it had that charm you would expect from a Double Fine game. I would look forward to completing every mini-game just so I could get a few seconds of seeing an old-fashioned television set with a bunch of fun sound effects and music.
There is one mini-game I kind of liked where you had to hit objects to put props on yourself followed by a picture. Combined with six-player support, this provided a good laugh when the picture was taken. There were two others that were legitimately fun. Everything else is torture. Many of the mini-games are derivative, overly simplistic and not passable even as tech demos. Combine this with the broken controls, and I was not able to squeeze even an ounce of fun from the vast majority of this game.
I couldn’t recommend this game even when it was available for free, and I certainly can’t do it now. I feel like I was ripped off because I had to waste my time with it. Its only redeeming quality is that the segments when it switches between menus and mini-games are full of that signature Double Fine charm. It pains me to give a Double Fine game such a bad review because of how much I love their other games, but this is worse than when Bioware released Dragon Age 2. That was disappointing; this is just plain bad