Checking out Sonic Free Riders for Kinect

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Kinect is a real interesting beast. It’s easy to dismiss Microsoft’s attempt at full player immersion, but you have to try it out before rejecting the thing. You have to see with the right games too, as titles such as Kinect Joy Ride and Kinect Adventures! don’t do much to sell the controller-free experience.

It wasn’t until last week that I finally saw some of Kinect’s potential thanks to Sega showing us Sonic Free Riders. Whereas I’m never sure whether I’m controlling the characters properly with the previously mentioned titles, I know for certain that Sonic Free Riders is able to pick up my motions when it comes to the hoverboard controls.

Controls mimic that of a skateboard or snowboard. You’ll lean your body forward to turn right and lean backwards to go left. You will even kick one leg out behind you to get a boost of speed like a skateboarder. Boosting is limited to a meter that gets refilled by doing tricks that require you to actually jump.

The main hoverboard controls are great, but not everything is perfect. Motion controls extend to the weapons and items you will use. The bowling ball weapon needs to be thrown like a bowling ball, the missile needs to be tossed like a football, etc. Using these weapons took a couple of tries in most cases. I had trouble trying to select a character and hoverboard before the races too.

Aside from the hand gesture issues, Sonic Free Riders was pretty enjoyable. I feel that the game would do better if it gave players an option between Kinect and standard controls though.

Like most Kinect games, Sonic Free Riders will have its embarrassing moments too, such as when you have to make swimming motions with your arms during the water sections. We have video of me doing this coming up and I look ridiculous. It looks like I’m having a seizure.


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