Movers and Shakers: Kinect, Dance Central, and Top Darts

Hey there everyone, I hope you all had yourselves a fantastic holiday season filled with mounds of presents and good cheer. Welcome to 2011, the year after we make contact and before it all ends. This week on Movers and Shakers I’ll be expanding my horizons. Yes, that’s right, I got the Kinect. And with the Kinect I picked up Dance Central. I’ll also give my thoughts on Top Darts, a game that launched on Christmas Eve for the PS3 Move.

So, the Kinect. Kind of nifty. I like what it appears to be able to do. I don’t like the slapped on menu system for the 360, however. It reeks of good enough for now. There is no way to interact with the basic 360 menus, no way to navigate through your own files with voice commands or motion sensory. Within the Kinect Hub menu you can tell the 360 to play whatever disk is in the tray, login to Xbox Live, or any number of severely limited options. And when I say tell the 360 I literally mean tell it to. Voice commands are nifty, but not having the ability to shut down your system (not so difficult a concept) or turn it on (more difficult I grant you) with your voice takes the wow factor down a bit.

The motion control portion of the system is pretty adept at figuring out what I’m doing. Kinect Adventures, the game that ships with the Kinect to help you set your system up does an admirable job of representing you when you are within the parameters. Within six feet you have a good signal, usable for one player games, and within eight feet or more you have a excellent signal which will allow you and a friend to play at the same time. Some games seem to not even require the six feet. Dance Central for one appeared to operate without fault at five feet, but your experience may vary.

Now then, if the Kinect Hub menu system is horrid, then Harmonix (they of the recent $49.99 purchase price) got it right with their simple arm out arm in menus. And the game that they got it right with was Dance Central. Having had the system for a little while now, I’m quite pleased that I picked up this game that is completely outside my comfort zone. I’ve had the system since December 26 and a day has not gone by where I have failed to use it. It was a big hit on New Year’s Eve, with dance offs and trying to learn the dances all led to much hilarity. I like the exercise mode too, though I wish it would feature an option to remain on.

The Kinect appears to be heaven sent for exercise games. I’m definitely going to be looking into Ubisoft’s Your Body pretty soon.

The other game I wanted to discuss today was Top Darts, from Sony Europe. The game is a PSN download that cost me under $10. For that price I got a darts game which I found myself enjoying. You hold the Move Wand and hold down a button to lock in where you are aiming on the board, then the force of your “throw” will determine how closely you get to the target. I played the game two ways. One way had me holding and throwing the wand like an actual dart. Thanks to the nifty rope at the end of my wand I didn’t suffer from any broken televisions, but I came to suspect that the throwing was causing my Move to lose sync, as the game would begin to act funny after a little while. The other way, the preferred way I suppose, has you holding the wand like you normally would and performing the wrist action that would be required for throwing darts. Almost flicking the controller if you like.

There are a number of different gameplay types but they all boil down to different versions of throwing a set of darts at the board and getting the best score. The announcer was difficult to understand but sounded entertaining, and I was really disappointed in the lack of online play, as I have friends who would have enjoyed playing online.

Well, that’s it for Movers and Shakers this week. Hopefully I’ll be able to update more frequently now that I’ve got two different motion sensor systems on the go. Now I’m off to shake a leg in Dance Central.

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