Kinect Star Wars
|Kinect Star Wars|
European cover art
Kinect Star Wars is a Star Wars video game by LucasArts and Terminal Reality and published by Microsoft Studios for the Xbox 360 that uses the Kinect motion peripheral. The game was released on April 3, 2012 in North America and Europe and April 5, 2012 in Japan and Australia. Although no official date was set for release, some online retailers listed the game/console bundle for a February 7 release. It was the last game to be published by LucasArts.
The playable character in Star Wars Kinect is a master jedi and one of several new characters who will be introduced by the game. Using the controller-free Kinect system, the player stands in front of the television and uses hands to lift and throw objects with the Force or wield a lightsaber; uses body movement to control starfighters and podracers, or uses a voice component to make additional commands. The background of the storyline takes place during the prequel trilogy timeline of the Star Wars universe, beginning shortly after Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace and concluding with the events of Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith. The game also includes settings from the original trilogy, such as the planet Bespin featured in The Empire Strikes Back. Playing the game affords you the ability to battle against Darth Vader in-game.
The game has five sections, each with a complete campaign:
- Jedi Destiny: Player assumes the role of a Jedi Padawans trying to help stop the forces of the Dark Side.
- Rancor Rampage: Player acts as a Rancor with gameplay focused on destroying an area.
- Podracing: As a young, up and coming podracer, the player will race against various opponents.
- Galactic Dance-off: Players can dance against Princess Leia and others who are enslaved by Jabba The Hutt at his palace on Tatooine. Songs are modern, pop-music...re-mixed to Star Wars lyrics; for example, "Hollaback Girl" becomes "Hologram Girl," "Ridin' Solo" becomes "I'm Han Solo," etc. Other venues include Bespin, Coruscant and the Death Star—all of which allow the player to dance against other equally iconic characters from the franchise. This mode has become an internet meme, and is cited in many reviews as being one of the highlights of the game. Opinion among fans of the franchise is split, with some calling it fun while others see it as more defamatory of the franchise.
- Duels of Fate: A lightsaber-centered mode where the player squares off against various opponents, and eventually fights Darth Vader.
Development, marketing and release
Microsoft Studios had planned to develop a Star Wars game since early in the development of the Kinect system. Kudo Tsunoda, creative director for Kinect, said of this decision: "It's one of those things where you can see how the unique parts of Kinect can bring to life the fantasy of being a Jedi in a way no other game console or media can do." The release of the game was formally announced at the Electronic Entertainment Expo on June 6, 2011, where the first gameplay trailer and portions of the game were shown. A social media application was released for iOS, Android, and Windows Phone mobile devices. It combined Twitter and Facebook feeds on the game in the style of the Star Wars opening crawl.
Craig Derrick was LucasArts' lead producer on Kinect Star Wars. The visuals of the animation were augmented in such a way to make the Jedi fighting techniques appear realistic because, Derrick said: "What we found early in development is that no one wants to look like 'Star Wars kid' in front of their friends."
Five individual downloadable content pieces are available. The first, a podracer piloted by an adult Anakin Skywalker, is only available through a promotion with Brisk. Select bottles of iced tea feature a Microsoft M-Tag barcode which can be scanned by the Kinect to unlock the podracer. The remaining four consist of playable characters in different modes: a Snow Rancor, a Korriban Rancor, bounty hunter Aurra Sing and Jedi Master Kit Fisto.
A limited-edition console bundle was launched alongside the game with the Xbox 360 set designed to look like R2-D2. The bundle included the console with a 320 GB hard drive, a white Kinect sensor and the gold controller modeled after C-3PO. The bundle will be sold for a MRP of $449.99 in the United States, $548 in Australia and £349.99 in the United Kingdom.
Kinect Star Wars has received negative reviews, with reviewers complaining about the underdeveloped gameplay, weak writing and inaccurate controls. It received an aggregated score of 53.53% on GameRankings and 55/100 on Metacritic.
Meanwhile, Digital Spy maintains that "to call Kinect Star Wars a mini-game compilation would be to do it a disservice. The development team has clearly invested a lot of time and effort ensuring that each game can stand on its own two feet."
Brad Shoemaker from Giant Bomb disliked the game saying, "It doesn't matter who you claim Kinect Star Wars is for, it's a shoddy product on almost every level. There are a few glimmers of what could have been in here, but this is not the game that legitimizes Kinect as a game-playing device, nor does it do a single thing to restore any vibrancy or value to the Star Wars license. Fans of Star Wars, Kinect hopefuls, and little kids all deserve better."
Kinect Star Wars debuted at number one on the UK all formats chart, making it the first ever Kinect exclusive game to do so in the UK. It is also the first Star Wars game to top the charts since 2008.
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