FGC #157 Kinect Star Wars

Bum Bum BuuuuuuumThere’s enough negativity on the internet, and I always try to be positive in my little corner of cyberspace.

I try.

I really do.

Full disclosure: I was biased against the Kinect from its first moment. It looked like yet another attempt by Microsoft to bite on the success of another device and steal some of the Wii’s voluminous thunder. Don’t get me wrong, despite being in a field that calls for me to curse M$ every ten seconds, I actually generally like Microsoft. I can’t get mad at those guys, because I’ve seen what other tech companies do when they have control, and Gates’ Fabulous Machine has at least steered in a direction that allows for things like writing your own programs without the express written permission of the Jobs estate. But ‘Soft has a tendency toward wholesale theft of whatever is working in the industry, and then attempting to replicate its success without really understanding what made the original so great in the first place. Kinect looked like another Zune from day one, and, when I finally picked one up over a Black Friday sale, I saw nothing to divorce me of this notion.

The Kinect always, always had issues. It was, I suppose, ideal for bars or frogurt factories, but in the average living room, playing a game that was meant for you, Kinect owner, had a tendency to go south real fast. Kinect has been calibrated for Goggle Bob. Welcome, Goggle Bob. Goggle Bob, it appears you have moved six inches to the left, I will now identify your t-shirt as a second player, and you as a guest. That couch behind you is an arm, right? Wow, that arm doesn’t move very much, you have failed. If this problem persists, please rearrange all the furniture in your home. Now shout your commands at me. I’m sorry, I didn’t hear that, but if you’d like to exit the game you’re currently playing, we can recalibrate the microphone again in an environment that doesn’t have background music. Have you considered playing all of your videogames on mute? Pew PewYou might enjoy it. Why are you turning me off in the system settings?

So, yes, not a Kinect fan.

And, as I’ve covered before, I’m not really a Star Wars fan either. I mean, I like Star Wars, I like lasers and laser swords and lasering planets, but it’s never been a must-buy situation. Kinect Mega Man? I’m buying that on day one. But Kinect Star Wars has no great hold over me. So why buy the game at all? Simple: Lucasarts has been working on ways to make “real life lightsaber battles” a reality for ages, and I figured here would be the culmination of that pan-galactic pursuit.

It makes sense, right? Lightsabers are, like Kingdom Hearts, light. There’s not much weight to a sword made of light, and there’s even less to a sword made of nothing. While the common complaint regarding The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword involved pointing out that shaking a wiimote around was nothing like holding an actual, weighty (Master) sword, there’d be no such issue in the Star Wars universe. I’ve seen Jedi twirl those things around like batons, so it’s perfectly canon that wielding a lightsaber would be pretty damn similar to the Kinect’s usual wave your hands around like a dork.

So, great news, thanks to Kinect Star Wars, I’m now completely over this whole “want to use a light saber” thing.

Okay, that isn’t completely true. I still want the ability to easily dice off limbs and cut through walls, but the actual dueling in Kinect Star Wars is about as fun as bathing a wookie. This actually makes me think of Skyward Sword again, because this is yet another game that reduces the act of dueling to Punch-Out-esque “tells” and motions. But please don’t think that because I evoked the good name of Punch-Out that I think this is any good: everything about this dueling system is pretty much the exact opposite of how anyone thinks of superpowered, exciting swordfights. People are fond of comparing Punch-Out to rhythm games, which is wholly justified, but Kinect Star Wars’ duels are practically (super slow) Dance Dance Revolution. VeeeewDown, up, left, attack, down, attack, push… Christ, I just realized this is more Hologram Time Traveler than anything. That’s not good!

And it gets worse! Viewed from a distance, this game is just a series of minigames. I’ve been focusing on lightsaber duels because they broke my heart, but there’s also pod racing, dancing, and Incredible Hulk Rancor-ing. And that’s all well and good, but some nitwits decided to solder a plot on to these events, and… ugh. Like, okay, remember Star Wars Episode 1? Of course you do. Remember the pod racing scene? Well, you’ve got two options there: you either enjoyed that entire protracted sequence, or you found it boring as hell, and spent all your time fantasizing about when that dreamy Darth Maul was going to show up. No matter your choice, now imagine doing that while standing up. It’s cool that Lucasarts decided to produce a Star Wars “cinematic experience” for this otherwise lightweight game, but every minute spent watching a prologue crawl of text or listening to Yoda jibber jabber about light and dark is also a moment you’re expected to be standing and at the ready, and it gets exhausting. Sure, you can sit back down, but then get ready for your Kinect to get confused and mistake the cat for your left foot, again.

At a certain point this game crosses the threshold between “bad videogame” and “psychological torture”. How long have you been standing there in your living room? To access the next level, begin repeating back to your Kinect how many Microsoft and Star Wars products you would like to purchase…

Think about itOh, and the whole thing is “hosted” by C-3PO and R2-D2. If you ever wondered when their crazy antics would get old, well, here you are.

Kinect Star Wars is terrible. It somehow manages to cram absolutely everything bad about the Kinect into one licensed game. There’s potential here! There could, one day, be a good lightsaber game. I think we already had a pretty alright pod racing game. And who doesn’t like to wreck stuff? But what’s here is a game that practically revels in tormenting the player, and brutalizes mind and body in the pursuit of a more “immersive” experience.

I don’t want to be a jedi. After Kinect Star Wars, I don’t even want to stand up.

FGC #157 Kinect Star Wars

  • System: Xbox 360 with Kinect. I don’t normally note required peripherals, but it seemed necessary here.
  • Number of players: I don’t know… two? There’s no way I’m admitting to another real life person that I own this dreck.
  • Kinect Komplaints: I think the number one problem with this peripheral is that, after decades of buttons that work just fine, Microsoft forsook all of that for bizarre hand gestures and commands that are about as precise as Mr. Magoo threading a needle with his kneecaps. Like, if you’re playing Mortal Kombat, you hit the start button, and nothing happens, then, okay, you know this game doesn’t have a pause feature. Attempt to shout the “pause” command during a Kinect game, and nothing happens, you don’t know if there isn’t a pause function, or maybe you said the wrong thing, or maybe it didn’t hear you, Owieor maybe you have to hold your hands in the shape of a giant P, or… what do you want me to do, you blasted machine?
  • Are you sure you’re not just lazy? Look, the physical dangers of standing up over long periods have been chronicled in medical journals that I’m sure I read at a doctor’s office sometime around sixth grade. More recently, though, I’ve read up on cult indoctrination, and guess what’s a great way to wear down a person’s stamina? Kinect is trying to make you do something.
  • If you can’t say anything nice: Alright, I do appreciate that choosing your dominant hand is seamless, and that you’re not forced into being a righty, like a certain right-washed Nintendo elf.
  • Did you know? Thanks to Disney purchasing Star Wars, this was the last Star Wars game designed by Lucasarts. So whenever someone tells you that it’s Disney responsible for over-merchandising Star Wars…
    At least he's alive
  • Would I play again: This is one of the rare games that I couldn’t even wait for an auto-save. I hit the half hour mark, and just declared myself done, and popped out the disc almost immediately. That’s it. No going back.

What’s next? Random ROB has chosen… Family Dog for the SNES. Bark along with our nation’s thirtieth most popular animated dog from the 90’s! Please look forward to it!

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