Microsoft’s Kinectimals on iOS is the cat’s meow of kids’ gaming

Dec 16, 2011
Games

Kinectimals is part of Microsoft’s attack on the App Store, a port for iOS of the Xbox 360 Kinect game. Speculation abounds as to why Microsoft is entering the iOS market so aggressively, but if your household has Apple devices and little people, this one is worth checking out. If your kids already play the […]

Kinectimals is part of Microsoft’s attack on the App Store, a port for iOS of the Xbox 360 Kinect game. Speculation abounds as to why Microsoft is entering the iOS market so aggressively, but if your household has Apple devices and little people, this one is worth checking out. If your kids already play the motion-gaming version, all the better, but it’s not necessary to enjoy this virtual pet game.

The game is, in part, a pet-care sim, featuring an assortment of wildcats so precious and well-animated the folks at Disney should take note. Kids care for the basic needs of their cubs: feeding, grooming and playing with them to keep them happy. The game is for mini-people, so neglect does not kill the cats, but the happiness each fur-baby exudes when engaged is reward enough.

The gaming element comes in the form of mini-games. These involve teaching the Kinectimal new tricks and executing them in various sequences, and a lot of jump rope and fetch challenges. Keeping the pet content and winning medals earns XP and coins to unlock new cats, regions of Lemuria (the land where all the action takes place) and helps you stock up on snacks and adornments.

On iOS, all the child-exhausting action is handled by gestures and a tap-based navigation system. Xbox players can import their Kinectimals, and buying the app unlocks five additional cubs for them. iOS users have to content themselves with fewer species and — a mixed blessing — the absence of the lemur-fairy guide who instructs kids on what to do and how to get around.

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The port succeeds on many levels. The animations, transitions and speed are near console quality. There is nothing here to suggest anything less than Microsoft’s best efforts went into creating a stand-alone iOS product. I hope this serves as a wakeup call to Nintendo, whose Wii motion system and iconic back catalog have massive untapped iOS potential. They need to examine this shift in thinking and the methods of adaptation.

That said, as a for-kids iOS game, there is work yet to be done. My son, the target demographic, who has been begging us to get the Kinect add-on for a year was enthralled by the cute-factor, and no, the mini-games were not at all boring for my zombie-slaying, strategy-gaming tween. His frustration with the controls and lack of any direction, however, was sufficiently vocal that I had to stop him from playing to save my own sanity. The sigh of relief as he returned to his regularly scheduled gaming time was palpable.

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Lisa Caplan

Lisa Caplan writes app lists and guides as well as reviewing iOS apps and games on various tech sites, most recently on her fledgling iPhone and iPad giveaway blog, AppTudes. She is thrilled to be joining the stellar reviewing team at Appolicious. Located in a balmy Montreal suburb, Lisa has an advanced degree in Creative Writing, and has had an Apple computer by her side since 1979! She is a talentless art nut, bibliophile and accessory junkie. Lisa looks forward to sharing her gaming addiction and love for all tech that promotes culture, communication, social awareness and education at every level.

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