So, finally Kinect is with us in the SPOnG office, actually it is upstairs in the break room because the SPOnG office lacks sufficient space. It launches in the USA today - Kinect that is. Actually it launches in the USA about a minute before we were allowed to put this over-view live. It launches in the UK next week.
Yes, it's three years since Don Mattrick decided that Microsoft's Xbox 360 needed a new direction. It's two years since the company decided to license "a low-cost, plug and play, USB-powered device that can either sit on top of or next to a television screen or a monitor, or be integrated into them"
from Israeli company Prime Sense, (which by the way just raised $50million in additional venture capital
It's a little less time since the company decided to call its new motion tracking controller 'Natal' after the Brazilian home town of its project lead, Alex Kipman. It's three months since Natal was renamed 'Kinect' at a press event prior to E3, which included an actual elephant in the room.
I'm going to give you my take on the device and some of its accompanying launch titles and I am also going to intersperse this with differing from views from SPOnG writers Mark Johnson and PocketFrenzy.
I say, "some of the launch titles" mainly because all of them are not available in the UK at this time - the device does not launch over here until November 10th. But also because we received review copies and Kinect one and a half days ago.
As I say, we received our review unit on November 2nd. Packed in with it was a copy of Kinect Adventures
- rather than a sports game. Accompanying it were copies of:
Your Shape: Fitness Evolved
Kinect Joy Ride
Lovely. Unsurprisingly, and as you can see from this list, there isn't anything that you'd call a core title in there. Yes, despite the June showing of US talk show host Jimmy Fallon having fun with Burnout Paradise
with the new, cool, face of Kinect (Mr Kipman was obviously just the 'project guy') Kudo Tsunoda, we are faced with a familiar set of 'family' titles.
Before we leave Mr Kipman, however, let's remember what he said
before Mr Tsunoda took over as the sunglassed face of Natal/Kinect.
"We'll have games that are specifically designed to work only with Natal – not just arcadey games, but real, hardcore, triple-A titles."
Of course, this was early on.
Later that same month
, Microsoft was keen to point out that, "At Xbox, we're developing controller-based games for the core and Kinect titles that appeal to everyone."
Why do I mention this? Simple, with the kit in my hands, my expectations were now to be realised.
Later that same day, a very nice man arrived outside the office with a copy of Dance Central
- the real "Wow game" from E3. He'd couriered it all the way up to Yorkshire from London. One game. Nice fella. It also shows how much Harmonix/MTV and, of course, Microsoft Game Studios are standing behind the game.
All the titles came in their Kinect livery. I call it a dark purple coloured box. Others will have a more accurate description. You can see box shots pictured on this page.
Kinect's box is unassuming. It carries a nice enough weight in its rectangular understatement. It made me feel as if I had something rather more substantial in my hands than a new controller. I looked at it, I looked at the space we have in the office between HD-TV and opposing wall. I realised that there was no way that was going to be enough space to play and not smash a writer or two around the head.
We had been playing Wii games and Move games there for some time, but Kinect is a full-body, no controller controller. There was going to be jumping around, there was going to be flailing. The manual requires that you have two metres for a single-player (4m for two players) between you and the Kinect sensor as a minimum. It was time to move the Xbox 360 Slim and its new Kinect friend upstairs to the company's very lovely, very one glass walled, break room.
Once we'd moved the couch around and tidied up the floor (Kinect hates a messy floor, it needs a floor to focus on and track you), we plugged the USB cable from Kinect into Slim and proceeded to yell: "Xbox! Wake Up!" to no avail.