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Plugged In

Kinect games: What’s hot, what’s not

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Buzz's Words

So you've got a Kinect (and in case you don't, check out our 101 guide to find out if it's right for you), but no games. That just won't do. Here's a rundown of six of the system's initial launch titles. Get moving!


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Dance Central

Say hello to your must-have. There's a reason this
dance game -- built by the musical geniuses at Rock Band maker Harmonix -- was the only Kinect title to walk away with multiple Game Critics awardsat this year's E3 expo: it's absurdly fun. Since you're not represented by an on-screen avatar, lag isn't really an issue. Instead, you just shake your stuff like the incredibly well-animated dancer on screen by following helpful cue-card prompts. Since it doesn't require goofy dance mats or awkward controllers, anyone with a halfway decent sense of rhythm can hop in. Will it prep you for the club? Probably not, but with this in your house, you won't need to go out anyway.

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Looking for a sleeper hit? This might be it. This kid-friendly virtual pet game lets you adopt adorable cubs and train them while exploring a mysterious island. Though its use of the Kinect sensor is pretty limited -- you can pet Mr. Whiskers, give him commands and toss a ball with him, but not much else -- the terrific animations and unbridled cuteness will hook both the wee ones and their jaded parents. Just don't let Fido see how much fun you're having with it.

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Your Shape: Fitness Evolved

Kinect is all about moving around, so an exergame seems the perfect match. And in many ways, Your Shape: Fitness Evolved is exactly that. Though it's a bit rough around the edges, it manages to move the home exercise bar a few inches with a variety of workouts and exercise games that don't require remotes or balance boards. Of particular interest are the yoga/tai chi routines; if you're out of alignment, you'll see it
right there in the screen. Very cool, and compared to a month or two worth of yoga classes, a lot more affordable.

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Kinect Sports

Apparently one of the Motion-Sensing CommandmentsTM is that you MUST launch your motion-sensing control system with a sports game. What else can explain this Wii Sports rip-off? Still, despite its similarity to Nintendo's groundbreaker and Sony's PlayStation Move pack-in title Sports Champions, Kinect Sports has a lot going for it. Developed by ace game maker Rare, it includes six sports games (Soccer, Boxing, Track and Field, Volleyball, Ping Pong and Bowling) and a variety of mini-game variants. Ping Pong is the immediate standout, though you're bound to
have some party fun with the Track and Field events, too. Sure, it's just another sports game compilation, but it lands a spot on the podium.


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Kinect Adventures

Bundled with every Kinect sensor, this collection of motion-sensing mini-games does a decent job of getting you accustomed to playing without a controller. Crowd-pleasers include Rally Ball, which remains largely unchanged since being demoed on stage during Kinect's debut at E3 2009, and the physically-exhausting obstacle course Reflex Ridge. None of the activities are particularly engaging in the long run, though, and you'll probably stop playing it once you score some better games. But considering it's entirely free, it's hard to complain.

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Kinect Joy Ride

Based on another of Kinect's earliest tech demos, this kart racer is better on paper than it is in action. You grip an imaginary wheel and drive, but to make things easier, the game handles the gas and brakes while you just steer, boost and drift.. Kind of takes the fun out of driving, eh? Even a few trick modes can't save this from being one of Kinect's most forgettable launch games.


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