Owning a virtual pet is a great idea, as you avoid having to clean up messes while still teaching kids traditional values. Some games are better than others though, and EyePet was too much of a one-trick pony for the PlayStation Move. There is plenty of content in Microsoft’s pet sim for the Kinect, Kinectimals, to warrant a purchase – just as long as you’ve got a properly aged player to appreciate it.
You start Kinectimals by choosing your virtual pet, calling out its new name, and then playing around in a number of activities. There’s quite a bit you can do with your pet, such as brushing it and watching its fur wave about, play a round of fetch, or have it mimic the actions you perform in front of your Kinect.
The mini-games keep your fuzzy pet moving while unlocking new content. You might throw discs at targets, guide your Kinectimal through an obstacle course, use motion controls to drive a remote control vehicle, or dig around for treasure. In addition to more challenges, you are rewarded with content for your virtual hut. This will eventually become the home of your Kinectimal, so you’ll want to gather as much stuff as possible to make it cozy.
Most of the mini-games are repetitive affairs, but at least the Kinect manages to make proper use out of them. Probably the trickiest ones are the obstacle courses, as your pet copies your actions a second or two after you perform them, which can throw off your timing. Otherwise, I enjoyed how the game plays, especially the driving and treasure hunting activities. They take advantage of the Kinect’s quite well, and players of all ages should easily get into it.
Kinectimals is best aimed towards kids, and away from the rude remarks of hardcore gamers. More than a few people will be tempted by these adorable felines though. They wait for you when you wander away and dig out toys when they want to play. The environments are inviting too, with a kind of care-free tropical décor that resembles a forest paradise. Kudos to Frontier Development for making a good looking product, without pushing too far into the area of cuteness.
Well, almost... Throughout the game, you’ll deal with a cartoon meerkat named Bumble who guides you through each of the steps on how to play the game. He’s a real annoyance, right down there with Tails the Fox from the Sonic series. His voice is squeaky beyond belief, drowning out the otherwise tranquil music and sound effects. Doesn't he have an off switch?
Kinectimals took me by surprise. It’s not an amazing game by any means, but rather a cool pet simulator that doesn’t dip too far into nausea-inducing cuteness. It’s not for everyone, but if you want a game for your kids that makes proper use of the Kinect, this pet is worth picking up.
Besides, where else can you play with a baby Bengal tiger without being mauled by its mother?