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Kudo Tsunoda photo
Kudo Tsunoda

Kinect creative director Kudo Tsunoda has left Xbox, but not Microsoft

Well bam! There he goes
Nov 20
// Joe Parlock
Kudo Tsunoda, the creative director behind the Kinect since back when it was known as Project Natal, has left the Xbox division of Microsoft to work on non-gaming projects for the company. You might know him as the “Wel...
Kinect photo

Xbox One's Kinect gesturing is a thing of the past

Becoming less integral
Nov 10
// Brett Makedonski
Kinect's role on the Xbox One is becoming more and more diminished. Another blow comes with this week's arrival of the New Xbox One Experience. For the first time ever, Microsoft has done away with hand-gesturing that couldn'...
Deals photo

Can't wait for Black Friday? Xbox One gets free games & bonuses (updated)

Most bundles qualifying
Nov 05
// Dealzon
Update 11/8: We've updated the post to include freshly arrived Xbox One deals from Best Buy, Newegg et al. Currently the best bet is Microsoft's build your own Xbox One bundle deal, where you get AC Unity for free plus two fr...
Kinect photo

Microsoft keeps insisting Kinect is the bee's knees, cuts price by $50

The cat's pajamas
Oct 29
// Brett Makedonski
Once upon a time, many moon ago, Microsoft was adamant that Kinect was an integral part of the Xbox One. Then, when Xbox One didn't sell all that well, partially because of the $100 markup necessitated by the Kinect, the Xbox...

The Kinect Four photo
The Kinect Four

Microsoft insists 'vast majority' of Xbox One Kinect owners still use it

I do not
Oct 16
// Steven Hansen
It only took a year to go from the Xbox One won't function without Kinect to Microsoft selling Kinect-free Xbox Ones. And while it's been easy to live a clean, Kinect-free life these past one and a half years (the same one an...
Xbox One photo
Xbox One

Today's Xbox One holiday bundle is really two bundles

More Gears and some Kinect
Oct 01
// Brett Makedonski
Microsoft's double-dippin' in more ways than one today. For its fourth Xbox One holiday bundle, it has actually announced two different packages. That's more than we expected, but one of them is kind of a retread from earlier...

Review: Commander Cherry's Puzzled Journey

Aug 14 // Jed Whitaker
Commander Cherry's Puzzled Journey (PS4, Xbox One [reviewed])Developer: Grandé GamesPublisher: Grandé GamesRelease Date: August 11, 2015 (PS4), August 14, 2015 (Xbox One)MSRP: $13.99 Think of the most basic indie platformer you've ever played with minimal graphics and okay at best platforming mechanics, because that is what Commander Cherry's Puzzled Journey is, only worse.  Commander Cherry has to get from one side of the ten available levels to the other, using snapshots of your body taken with the Xbox One Kinect or the Playstation Eye as platforms. When posing for pictures you'll have to position yourself so the edges of your body touch red circles causing them to light up, thus making them collectible for Commander Cherry. These yellow dots must be collected to allow advancement to the next part of the level and granting you a rating of yo, yoga, or yogawesome depending on how well you performed, then rinse and repeat for what felt like a billion times. Here's the thing about capturing your body in crazy poses: in theory it sounds great, but in practice the functionality blows. The Kinect was picking up like half my arms, half my face, and half my legs. On top of that, the detection wasn't that great, often times leaving wide areas of the room behind me in the picture, instead of cropping me out. So don't be fooled by Commander Cherry's original trailer, it certainly doesn't work as well as I was led to believe it was; foolish me. [embed]304686:59976:0[/embed] As far as the actual platforming goes it could be better. Early on you're asked to press a button that shows you all what all the controls are, only you can't do two of the functions yet: double jump and laser. You can only double jump if you have a power-up that turns your weak mustache into a long wizard-like beard, but the game doesn't tell you that as the control screen just says "Hold A to double jump" which isn't even how you double jump once you have the ability! The laser is granted to you in later levels allowing you to cut through your snapshots of yourself, which helps a great deal and should have been available from the start. Speaking of available from the start, double jump should have been as well. The platforming isn't exactly smooth, and most of the time I only found myself able to make it through sections when I had the power-up. The double jump power-up is lost upon falling to your death or hitting the weird eyeball grass and oranges that shoot flames, much like the super mushroom power-up in Super Mario Bros. The big difference between this and Super Mario Bros. is the added double jump ability; getting hit as Mario makes you smaller and harder to hit versus in Commander Cherry it just causes you to lose functionality and makes the game harder. Because of this I started to purposefully kill myself three times in a row when I lost the double jump ability, as it causes a power-up to spawn for you. Nothing says "this might not be a great idea" like someone playing your game and killing themselves deliberately to make your game even remotely possible let alone enjoyable. I'm clearly not in shape, at all -- though Seaman once told me round is indeed a shape -- but I didn't have much trouble posing to complete the platforming puzzles. Poses start with just making basic platforms to guide your character across, but eventually add other mechanics, like avoiding touching grass-like eyeballs, blocking firebreath from oranges, and bodies that move when you have Commander Cherry jump on them. The problem is it gets tedious when sometimes you're asked to make up to six poses for one section while holding the controller in your hand and contorting your body in all different positions. It just wasn't fun, and eventually I had to take a break as my knees, and back started to ache a bit. Later on I figured out I could just play while sitting in my chair closer to the camera, and totally cheesed my way through the final levels with no shame.  All the levels look pretty similar, just bland textureless polygons, and what music there was was pretty forgettable, just like the rest of the game. With only ten levels you'd think Commander Cherry's Puzzled Journey was over far too soon, but it was quite the opposite; I couldn't wait for this yoga-like Hell to be over. Knowing the game was made by only two people makes me feel a bit like a yogasshole by saying this game is yogawful, but this is one cherry pit I couldn't wait to spit out. [This review is based on a retail build of the game provided by the publisher.]
Review: Commander Cherry photo
"A game that captures pictures of you when you pose to build levels for your character to platform on? This is gonna be a blast," I thought naively as I excitedly volunteered to review Commander Cherry's Puzzled Journey, "Finally something I can use my Kinect for!" Note to self: Never, ever, ever volunteer to review a Kinect game again, no matter how cool it might look.

Kinect photo

Has Microsoft killed Kinect?

Kinda. Maybe. Possibly?
Jun 16
// Vikki Blake
Talking of backwards compatibility... did you notice what wasn't on that list of playable titles? Kinect games. There are no Kinect games. No Kinectimals, no Kinect Sport, no Dance Central. It seems that Xbox's all-singing, a...
Slice Zombies photo
Slice Zombies

It's just like Fruit Ninja, but with zombies

Sold on it? No? Didn't think so
May 08
// Brett Makedonski
This all rather smacks of ingenuity. A new game just released on Xbox One, and it looks an awful lot like another popular title. Trade some produce for the undead and throw in some coins, and it seems as if you have a border...

Swery: D4 on PC is '100 percent bona fide D4'

May 07 // Brett Makedonski
The reason that Swery doesn't feel that the Kinect-to-mouse transition is a concession of sorts is because control method isn't what's at the core of D4. Swery elaborated "D4 is a game that doesn't derive its entertainment value merely from the fact that you can control it. My design has always been focused around the 'sensory replication' element. All input devices have their own special characteristics, and I feel that I've created separate control schemes that are all designed specifically for the Kinect, controller, and now the mouse." This "sensory replication" Swery speaks of isn't some marketable-sounding term that he tacked on to describe control schemes; it's something he spends a lot of time thinking about and crafting experiences around. In fact, further hypothesizing by Swery is the reason the PC port is even happening. He explained how D4 on PC came to be by saying "I started working on the PC version at the end of last year, through to GDC this year. At that time, I had made no plans about releasing it. It was just an experiment to help prove the contents of my GDC speech. To sum up [my speech]: 'Even without Kinect, the theory of symbolization and sensory replication through minute observations is still possible, and pieces that replicate sensations in this manner can enhance the overall empathy that people experience.' In order to prove this, I started making a sample version of the game that could be played using only the mouse. I revealed it to people at GDC and PAX East, and since people responded more positively than I had expected, I decided to develop an official release." That official release won't come as easy as one might think. This is Access Games' first time working on a PC title. (The poorly-received PC port of Deadly Premonition was controlled by another studio, and Swery says that Access wasn't able to exert control over the process because it didn't own the rights to the game.) Because of Access' inexperience developing for PC, Swery describes the process as including "a lot of unexpected surprises and problems." He went into detail by saying "Like I talked about earlier, we had to figure out how to create sensory replication with the mouse. Since we couldn't use Kinect, we needed to figure out how to make the PC version a game that anyone could easily enjoy with the mouse. Our game designers, programmers, and UI designers really had to rack their brains about this. Next, we had to think about adding user options and confirming minimum system requirements and recommended specifications that didn't exist in the console version. Since we created an original shader for D4 using our own code, it was hard to make it backwards compatible simply through changing settings in Unreal Engine, so we had to adjust the code and add new parts to it. Since we've only worked on console games so far, this was a brand new experience for us." Above all else, Swery's says he's dedicated to not letting the PC version of D4 go the way of Deadly Premonition. "The team that worked on the Xbox One version of D4 is in charge, and I've also been taking part in the adjustments. We're really serious about this, and intend to treat the D4 IP with the utmost care." One thing that he wasn't too serious about was commenting on his feelings about Microsoft announcing one year ago that it'd release a version of Xbox One without Kinect. After all, Swery had likely undertook this project with the understanding that Kinect would be something that's in every living room that an Xbox One is in. All of a sudden, that wasn't the case. Swery took the high (and humorous) road by simply chiming in "#ThanksObama." Temporary comedic relief aside, Swery seems very serious about D4 and its future. When asked about reading fan theories (a pastime that's dominated the Destructoid office at times), Swery said that he refrains out of respect for the fans. He clarified by saying "D4 is of the mystery genre. With this genre, the fun comes from 'enjoying' all the mysteries up to the end. I think it's natural for people to closely watch the developments, hypothesize, and then think up their own opinions and theories. That's what's so great and important about the mystery genre. With that in mind, I think I have no right to take part in those sorts of discussions." For all the transparency and openness behind the whole process of getting D4 to PC, Swery turned mysterious again when the topic on everyone's mind came up: Is a second part to D4 ever getting made? "I still can't talk about what'll be coming next. All I can say is that I'm working my hardest!," he said. Figures. But, maybe with the help of a PC audience pushing for more D4, we'll get the resolution we need. Or, maybe we'll get more fights with a cat lady. Both are welcome with open arms.
Swery interview photo
Kinect didn't make the game
To say that developer Hidetaka Suehiro -- or, Swery65 as most everyone knows him -- has a knack for creating unique and strange videogame experiences would be an understatement. He has a loyal cult following, as anyone that l...

Extended value photo
Extended value

Microsoft discontinues Kinect for Windows

'We recently extended Kinects value'
Apr 03
// Steven Hansen
Until today, you could buy a PC compatible, standalone Kinect v2 (the Xbox One one) for use with your PC or tablet. Microsoft just announced it will no longer be producing the Kinect for Windows sensor. If you still want to u...
Game News Haikus photo
Game News Haikus

Game News Haikus: Battlefield Hardline, Banjo-Kazooie, Final Fantasy XV, and more

Zen distilled stories
Mar 23
// Darren Nakamura
Last week we took a break from the usual poetic news recaps to highlight our favorite games from PAX East, but now we are back in the swing of things. You can check out all of the past episodes on the Game News Haikus YouTub...

CCP's found the best use for Xbox One's Kinect so far

Mar 20 // Brett Makedonski
The Atlanta studio put together three demos, and used Rift DK2 and Microsoft's Kinect for all of them. While it's a suitable use of the VR peripheral, it's the integration of Kinect that pushes everything to the next level. Taking the controller out of your hands and replacing it with actual movement goes a long way toward achieving the ever-sought-after "immersion." I dare say that these three demos are the best use of Microsoft's Xbox One Kinect yet. Speaking with Atlanta's executive producer Morgan Godat, he shed some light on the developer's decision to make use of the Kinect. "We said 'What comes next?' Our assumption was that the Xbox controller was kind of the first generation of VR like you're seeing with Valkyrie. But, what might come after that?" he said. The result was what Godat described as a "Frankenstein setup." The team started with a PC, Oculus Rift, PlayStation Move controllers, and a Kinect. It just threw everything together to see what worked and what didn't. As Godat put it "Some of the hardware has fallen off, but Kinect has made the long haul. It's really impressive." It's the piece that, for now, is crucial in taking that next step in VR development. When standing in front of the Kinect with an Oculus strapped to your head, it's apparent how important that proverbial (and, in this case, literal) next step really is. Hands-down, the most impressive and enjoyable game was a player-versus-player contest named Disc Arena. The only way to paint a mental image of the aesthetic is to call it "overtly Tron." Standing across from another person in the futuristic corridor, you're tasked with flicking a disc toward your opponent. If you hit them, you get a point. The challenge comes from the fact that you're both "equipped" with a shield that can be held up with the left hand. Blocking will break the disc; swiping at the disc with the shield reflect it back. At first, it's easy to get caught up in the simple exchange of flick a disc, block a disc. It's boring, simple, and basic. But, then a disc goes astray and you learn that the walls can be used to bounce the disc and disorient your opponent. Suddenly you have to watch all directions for incoming projectiles, throw your shield everywhere, and still find time to shoot off your own discs. When you score a point, it feels like an actual accomplishment. It's just great. (And, I won six points to five, by the way.) Ship Spinner was the most experimental of the three titles. There wasn't an objective, but rather exploration was the focus. With a detailed spaceship hovering in front of you, you were asked to swipe it around to change the orientation. From there, leaning into the ship completely changed the view and offered insight as to what's actually happening aboard. All the rooms were detailed in their own special way. At one point I triggered lounge music. A colleague of mine found a dead guy. I raised the ship as high as I could, and explored the underbelly and furnace of the ship. There wasn't really any point, but that's what made it great. The last of Atlanta's demos, called The Workshop, let me grab fire and throw it. Putting elements on a literal pedestal, I just picked up fire or electricity and lobbed it about as I felt fit. Then, a stack of boxes appeared and I kicked them as far as I could. It was neat, but nothing on the level of Disc Arena or Ship Spinner. The Shanghai studio went in a very different direction and ended up developing an untethered VR experience. Using GearVR, it created an on-rails shooter named Project Nemesis. Originally codenamed Invaders, it's simple to grasp where it draws inspiration from. It's essentially a VR conceptualization of Space Invaders which requires tapping on the side of the headset to dispose of waves of ships circling in patterns. Admittedly, there's a good chance that none of these demos will ever see the light of day as some sort of consumer release. That's fine with CCP, though; that was never the intent. As Godat emphasized, the point of making these one-off experiences was to get creative and see what the developers could do with virtual reality. It's all a part of CCP's ultimate goal of "finding a future vision within the EVE universe with a laser focus on VR."
CCP does VR A-OK photo
CCP's VR Labs
It’s no secret that virtual reality is quickly making its mark on the videogame industry. If that weren't evident before, GDC 2015 kicked the door wide open. That's why, with numerous developers turning their attention ...

Review: Fruit Ninja Kinect 2

Mar 16 // Brett Makedonski
Fruit Ninja Kinect 2 (Xbox One)Developer: Hibernum CréationsPublisher: Halfbrick StudiosReleased: March 18, 2015MSRP: $14.99 For the few who don't know, Fruit Ninja relies on the suspension of disbelief that you are a ninja (apologies to the actual ninjas in the audience), and that fruit is your mortal enemy. As fruit is tossed up on the screen, slashing, slicing, dicing, chopping, and cleaving motions dispel the pesky produce. Efficiency is key, and eliminating melons, berries, and citrus in numbers of three or higher is more rewarding in every sense of the word. Again, it's a simple premise. Fruit Ninja Kinect 2 warmly welcomes back arcade, classic, and zen modes, all of which remain (almost) untouched in their varying degrees of danger and urgency. However, there's also an attempt to add depth with four new modes, a bolstered multiplayer system, and campaign objectives. They're all fine improvements -- small tweaks on a formula that really can't be tweaked all that much. Festival is where seasoned Fruit Ninja players will find the most jarring changes. These four games each place their own significant caveat on gameplay. Two of them require avoiding incoming shurikens and staying out of a moving spotlight while still slicing fruit. Another throws seeds into the mix which, when not disposed of, turn into bamboo that needs chopping down. And, in maybe the biggest twist yet, one game trades in faux katanas for barroom darts. [embed]289110:57801:0[/embed] All that mostly ends up serving as a distraction -- a palate cleanser when the three mainstay modes temporarily overstay their welcome. They'll also have a share of campaign objectives that are unique to them, as Fruit Ninja Kinect 2 has a level progression system that sees the player from whatever unremarkable title rank one holds, through Fruit Ninja at rank 30. In the past, the only real reason to keep at Fruit Ninja was for leaderboard dominance. While that urge is still present, the stripped-down campaign does a lot to encourage continued play, even if there's nothing notably unique about it. Honestly, Fruit Ninja Kinect 2's most alluring prospect is as a party game. Fortunately, the multiplayer has evolved significantly since the past iteration. Now, four-person play is supported (although only two at a time, with swift trade-offs), and there are mini-games galore to ensure that everything's more varied than "chop more fruit than your friends." Predictably, Fruit Ninja Kinect 2's biggest weakness comes from the implementation of the Xbox One's Kinect. It's not a perfect motion peripheral, and that can become all too evident when laser-like accuracy is necessary. But, to their credit, the developers did the best they could minimizing the severity of the issue. One of Fruit Ninja Kinect's greatest strengths (and it's true of this game, too) is that it maps the player's shadow to the background. It seems somewhat insignificant, but this gives the player an omnipresent frame of reference, something that other Kinect titles couldn't offer. Most importantly, it mitigates the imprecision of the Kinect by projecting a constant and reliable method to altering body movements that'd achieve desirable results. And, brilliantly enough, this all exists in the player's subconscious. Fruit Ninja Kinect 2 is subject to the same technical downfalls in theory, but it handles them a bit better in execution. That's to be expected; it's using improved hardware, after all. There aren't many instances of Kinect just flat-out refusing to read your movements. The issues are more nuanced than that. Sometimes it'll put players on the wrong side in multiplayer and refuse to fix the problem. Other times, it won't accept the bowing command to pause the game. Most of these are niggling complications that can be worked around once you know how Fruit Ninja Kinect 2 consistently functions. Still, it's frustrating until that point's reached. Ultimately, Fruit Ninja Kinect 2 is a game that improves upon its predecessor in almost every conceivable way. Anything less would be unacceptable given that this feels somewhat more like a remaster of sorts than a true sequel. There aren't any major alterations, as the Fruit Ninja concept can't be shaken up too dramatically. But hey, it turns out that frantically slicing fruit still makes for a nice little distraction, regardless of whether it's on a tablet, a phone, or a television.
Fruit Ninja review photo
Banana, split
Any way you slice it, Fruit Ninja is one of the most popular mobile games of all time. It's built around such an unassuming foundation that it lends itself perfectly to those lulls in life when you don't really want to think ...

Rock Band 4 photo
Rock Band 4

Kinect interference won't be an issue in Rock Band 4

That's certainly reassuring
Mar 09
// Brett Makedonski
Harmonix wants the Rock Band 4 experience to be a social one -- a group of people together in a room using music as the driving force toward enjoyment. However, Microsoft has a once "integral" peripheral for the Xbox One...
Gearbox x Harmonix photo
Gearbox x Harmonix

Borderlands characters are now in Dance Central Spotlight

From Inside Gearbox panel
Mar 08
// Darren Nakamura
Gearbox and Harmonix have worked together in the past with a dance section in one of last year's trailers for Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel. At the PAX East Inside Gearbox panel, Gearbox and Harmonix announced a new p...
Kinect photo

Microsoft's Kinect for Windows sensor will be gone in 2015

That Kinect you like isn't coming back in style
Jan 01
// Chris Carter
Microsoft has announced that they will be ending sales for the original Kinect for Windows sensor in 2015. Since the "v2" edition (Xbox One) is available, it makes sense to phase out the original. They've reminded developers ...
Kinect photo

This game looks like one of the best uses of Kinect or PS Eye I've seen yet

Bonus: You get to take selfies!
Nov 19
// Brett Makedonski
Console camera peripherals are often neat in theory, but fall flat in practice. Turns out that very few people actually want to use the damned things to try to control their games. But, what if they were only used to control...
ScreamRide photo

Roller coaster crashing game ScreamRide will be budget priced

$29.99 on Xbox 360, $39.99 on Xbox One
Nov 13
// Jordan Devore
Frontier Developments' ScreamRide is a game about building and crashing roller coasters and while I'd prefer to play something like that on PC (or just scratch that itch in RollerCoaster Tycoon where I can also charge people ...
D4 sale photo
D4 sale

D4 is on sale, so everyone should buy it immediately

Deez discounts do discontinue
Nov 04
// Brett Makedonski
Hey, you! Yeah, the person that owns an Xbox One and is staring confusedly at the guy yelling at them over the Internet! I'm talkin' to you! D4's on sale for Xbox Live Gold members, so you should probably go pick that up righ...
National Cat Day photo
National Cat Day

Literally amazing! I let a stray cat into my friend's house and then put it in the tub with a Kinect

Introducing Freddy Purrcury
Oct 29
// Brett Makedonski
It's National Kitties Are F*cking Adorable and Awesome Day. The best day of the year, in my opinion. To celebrate, I let a stray cat into my friend's house and he beelined to the shower. That's how cats roll (when they feel ...
ScreamRide photo

You're actually supposed to crash roller coasters in ScreamRide

With pleasure
Sep 29
// Jordan Devore
ScreamRide is an Xbox 360 and Xbox One game due out this spring that should appeal to those of us RollerCoaster Tycoon players who regularly have "accidents" happen at our amusement parks. Now, it's more action than simulati...
D4 photo

Behold, D4's chilling grand finale... or something. Whatever

Xbox, go home
Sep 25
// Max Scoville
Sometimes playing video games is a fun experience and everyone enjoys themselves. Other times, someone winds up screaming at the TV. That's life. However, I can't remember the last time I found myself screaming "Eat the f*cki...
D4 photo
Damn! Dang! Darn! Uhh... Dildos!
I think the lesson Bill and I learned playing D4: Dark Dreams Don't Die is that we need to calibrate the Kinect, and make sure it can see us properly. Beyond that, I'm still unclear what this game is about, and it's vaguely u...

D4 photo
Look D4 you leap
Okay, so Chris Carter absolutely loved D4: Dark Dreams Don't Die, so Bill and I figured we'd check it out... and uh. Wow. Goodness gracious. That certainly is some sort of video game. I think. Honestly, if I didn't have this whole experience on video, I might think there was a gas leak in my house making us go all stupid and insane.

Gears of War photo
Gears of War

It's a good thing Gears of War: Tactics was canceled

Oh, Kinect
Sep 11
// Jordan Devore
A few years back, it was repeatedly rumored that Gears of War would get a spinoff game built around Kinect. The project never came to fruition and that's seemingly for the best, if this alpha footage of Gears of War: Tactics ...
Harmonix photo

Check out Disney Fantasia: Music Evolved at PAX Prime

Dance the night away
Aug 28
// Brittany Vincent
Harmonix is headed to PAX Prime in Seattle this weekend, and bringing with them Disney Fantasia: Music Evolved, as well as swag and some brand new songs that you can check out if you happen to be in attendance. The event's on...
Kinect photo

Standalone Xbox One Kinects go on sale in October for $150

Packaged with a copy of Dance Central Spotlight
Aug 27
// Brett Makedonski
Microsoft moved a lot more Xbox Ones when it made the prudent business decision to offer a SKU sans Kinect for $100 cheaper. But, what about those that have found themselves saddled with Kinect regret, those that long to come...
Rareware photo

Xbox boss on Rare in a post-Kinect Sports world

Maybe the studio is finally working on its next Perfect Dark or Banjo Kazooie
Aug 17
// Kyle MacGregor
Rare's time in the sun may be a distant memory, but Xbox boss Phil Spencer still feels the developer has bright days ahead. Speaking with CVG, Spencer said the British studio "should, can and will be" an important part of Mic...
Xbox Fitness photo
Xbox Fitness

Feel the burn of P90X on Xbox One with Xbox Fitness

There will be sweat
Jul 29
// Jordan Devore
P90X has joined Xbox Fitness for Xbox One this week with a 30-day program priced at $59.99. The program features P90X creator Tony Horton and five exclusive workouts. A downloadable calendar and nutrition plan are also on th...

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