Since its release, game developers have been finding new ways to utilise Microsoft’s Kinect peripheral for the Xbox 360 with its unique features.
Microsoft Studio’s and Relentless Software have come up with a brand new way of using the Kinect, immersing the player in a television show and what better than with nature’s most beautiful wild animals with Kinect Nat Geo TV.
It renovates how we watch television shows by allowing the audience to interact with the onscreen action whilst at the same time, educating them and it works.
With games like these, we can manipulate how television shows pan out whilst getting the highest score at the same time as learning.
Kinect Nat Geo TV is 8 different episodes spanning 2 discs, each episode focusing on a different animal and its habitat.
Narrated and hosted by Casey Anderson, who is known from National Geographic’s America the Wild and Expedition Wild, he takes the players around Yellowstone’s National Park looking at bears, wolves and owls, looking at how they hunt, live and survive whilst out in the wild.
This game is definitely for the naturalists and wildlife enthusiasts as it goes quite in depth and covers a lot of ground. Players who aren’t interested should stay well clear.
The menus are easy to navigate and are set out similar to the Xbox 360’s own dashboard; you use a hand to swipe across the screen to select an episode.
After selecting an episode, the TV show begins and players are introduced to Casey and his show and to Yellowstone Park and the animal the episode focuses on.
Players don’t do anything but watch the show until an on-screen prompt tells you to watch out for animal tracks and when they can be seen players are required to shout the word “Tracks!” which then triggers a second video titled Side tracks which sometimes focuses on a totally different animal than what you selected to watch.
In this video, players are then required to complete a task or 2 testing players’ knowledge or deciding which direction the video goes.
For example, on one side tracks video I was required to select how Casey should encourage a wild bear to catch a fish whilst the fish swims on in a man-made pool of water.
I had the choice to either have Casey demonstrate to the bear or just leave the bear to it to figure out itself.
These side tracks videos and tasks whilst a great idea provides nothing more than a distraction as by the time players gets to the end of it, they have forgotten about the original episode which is seen paused in the background.
Another task players are provided to do is take pictures by shouting “Snap!” whilst a slow motion video plays.
Success in this provides players with points which go towards your overall score judged by a gold, silver, bronze system.
The Kinects microphone works a treat and players don’t have to shout loudly to participate and this shouting feature provides great fun for the family.
The main attraction, however, is the mini games that take place at the end of each of the episodes sections.
Players are shown on screen via the Kinects camera and their arms and head are replaced by a specific animal’s limbs and head which correspond to the players’ motions.
Players are then required to carry out certain tasks such as catch fish using your teeth as a grizzly bear or protecting your nest by swatting away nasty critters as an owl.
These mini games are fantastic and can get very competitive when 2 players stand side by side and the Kinect is very responsive and works a treat.
At the end of it players are then scored and judged by stars, the more points earned grants the player more stars which goes toward your overall score.
The Kinect evolves evermore resulting in a world of television made fully interactive with great success.
The “Side tracks” and photograph sections feel nothing more of a tacked on distraction away from the desired episode, this should have been made as a separate entity within the game.
The mini games, however, are a fantastic feature that brings life to each episode and makes kids and adult alike fee like one of the animals.
The content is not for everyone however, naturalists and wildlife enthusiasts only but a successful attempt at bringing interactive TV closer to reality.
Kinect nat geo tv
Developers: Relentless Software
Publisher: Microsoft Studios
Release date: 18th September 2012
Story – 3/5
Graphics – 2.5/5
Gameplay – 3.5/5
Overall – 3/5