Take a journey to the mysterious island of Lemuria and become friends with some of the most exotic animals in nature. Ever wanted a Bengal Tiger or an African Lion as a house pet? Well, I will tell you exactly how you can get one, but only if you can keep a secret.

Meet Bumble!

Bumble will be your tour guide on the island of Lemuria, discovered by Captain Able Blackwood the greatest and kindest pirate who ever lived. Bumble and Captain Blackwood came to the island over two hundred years ago in search of treasure. With only part of the treasure map, they had difficulty finding it. So Bumble and Captain Blackwood recruited the help of the island cubs to find the lost treasure. Alas, the Captain had anohter adventure to go on, and trusted Bumble to care for the cubs. Here is where you come in. The cubs are delighted to see you; they haven’t played with another human for a very long time, and it has been a long time since Bumble has had anyone he could talk to. Let’s go!

Game controls or gestures

Kinectimals is a stimulation type game, so much of the controls are geared for you to actually “interact” with your cub companions. The most important moves to know to properly navigate the game are ‘hover’ and ‘swipe.’ Hovering allows you to control the “hand” icon on screen, allowing it to float and hover over a selection, when the white circle button fills all the way around. The ‘swipe’ option lets you scroll through items. You can let your cub help you select items he/she wants to play with, or choose what food item they would like to eat. The hover and swipe are the primary control motions used in the game–there are others physical movements require in-game, which I will list below. Throwing is another physical command that facilitates the many games you will use to play with your pet. The Kinect guide button will always be visible at the bottom left of your screen, in case you want to review any of the main menu options in game, get help, and pull up the Kinect Guide on screen.

Fur Town: Choosing your cub and the power of voice controls

Voice control is another ‘stimulation’ control used in Kinectimals. Your cub responds to the sound of your voice, and especially likes hearing it’s name called. When you are escorted to fur town, there will be five cubs awaiting your arrival at the “bonding circle.” There, you use the ‘swipe’ and ‘hover’ controls to scroll the screen you want to start your adventure with or your ‘primary’ companion. The other cubs you do not select you will meet later in the game.

So, you have chosen your cub you will have to name it. Voice here is important. The Kinect system has a brilliant microphone, is sensitive to your voice, and can pick it out of any other noises in the room. Your cub absolutely loves hearing its named called and responds immediately to your voice. Voice capability is an important part of training your cub, and so is petting! You can virtually pet and brush your cub– which it loves it and just like a real cat, purring, stretching, and pawing at you to show that it is pleased and happy.  There are many tricks your cub can learn in the game, and these are great for the scoring system (unlocks different environments on the map, etc).

Tricks and talking to your cub

Playing with you new cub is a great way to build a ‘virtual’ pet relationship. Teaching your pet to do tricks facilitates the interplay aspects of the game. The tricks ‘you’ and your pet can learn are:

  • Sit: Lean over and touch your knees.
  • Jump: Self explanatory.
  • Stand: Just stand and hold both your arms out.
  • Roll over: Hold one hand in front of you and make circular motions (The hand used is the way the cat rolls.)
  • Lie down: Kneel on your hands and knees.
  • Play dead: Lie down on the floor with your hands and feet in the air.

The talking commands are important because while teaching your pet to do tricks, it will also recognize any particular trick being called at it, provided the command is spoken along with the demonstration of the particular trick (sit, lie down, etc). Some of the tricks are already programmed for your pet to respond to, like “go play,” “come here,” and “go sleep.”  Voice recognizable commands are:

  • Sit down
  • Stand up
  • Lie down
  • Go play
  • Come here
  • Good boy/Good girl
  • Get your toy
  • Go to sleep
  • Roll over

Contests, achievements, scoring in-game and safety options

There are around 30 different games that you can play with your cub. Your progress menu will keep you up on how well you are interacting with your pet, as well as keep score of your activities, and will alert you when you have opened a different area on the map or earned different in-game items. You can also ‘tag-out’ with another player to connect and share you achievement progress with friends and family. The atmosphere of the game is clean, charming, and picturesque. So it is wonderful to watch as the pets interact with their environment and hide from you. If you leave or step out of range of the Kinect sensor, your pet will notice your absence and will come looking for you! So it is a great way to play hide-n-seek. If the game is purchased for a child–there are also parental control options available and are fantastic safety control options. This will “hide” all of the child’s actions and prevent all activities from being posted online (XBOXLive). Also, if you purchase a Kinectimal’s stuffed pet you can ‘scan’ that pet into the game and it will appear in game along with the other cubs.

A game for kids, adults…not so much

I purchased Kinectimals because I always wanted to have a Bengal Tiger for a pet and thought it would be cool to have a virtual one that can run around and play on the screen. If you remember when windows had those on screen pets that would poop all over your desktop and you have to ‘click’ to clean it up? Now, they are as big as my television screen–without having to worry about losing a few body parts to rough housing with a virtually real Bengal Tiger. Did playing with the Kinectimals cubs help me to achieve the desired satisfaction of owning a few these exotic pets? No, these are not one of those kinds of pets. There is the intitial charm of interacting with the virtual pets (big wide eyes and kitty smiles) and they all are just so cute! The overall mechanics of your interactions with your pet are very well orchestrated and crafted.  But the allure of playing with them can become a bit…awkward, for an adult. But that’s just it. The controls are easy enough for kids to navigate their way through the game and enjoy many of the adventures with the furry cubs.

For adults, these adventures may become repetitive and boring.

Technically–Kinectimals definitely reflects the advance and superior technology of the Kinect gaming system. There is certainly no flaw in this respect. However, should you have a tendency to go all soft or melancholy now and again–pick yourself up a copy of Kinectimals. Just don’t forget to sign in every once in awhile and visit your pets.

They really seem to miss you when you are gone.

ESRB Rating EKinectimals is rated ‘E’ for everyone and is only available for the XBOX 360 Kinect.

All image credit: XBOX 360 Kinectimals

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aidyspoetry
When AIDY isn't writing poetry, she likes to write film reviews. If she is curious about something she seen or heard, she'd maybe write about that, too.