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10 game alternatives to the Xbox 360 Kinect

Editorial Staff

Can’t find a Kinect? Check out these games instead

With the holiday season fast approaching, getting your hands on Microsoft’s motion-sensing peripheral isn’t going to be easy. According to sales reports, they’re selling like hot cakes, and considering how absolutely crazy American mothers get when it’s time to go Christmas shopping, fully expect it will only get harder to find a store that still has the Xbox 360 Kinect on stock. We’re not even in December yet and GameStop is claiming that rabid customers are stalking their UPS trucks in the hopes of beating the competition. Not even “Tickle Me Elmo” had such devout fans. Sure there were a couple brawls in shopping stores, muggings and a stabbing or two, but for most Americans that’s hardly out of the ordinary.

Is it worth all the fuss? Sort of. It’s a neat piece of hardware, but honestly, once the novelty of gyrating like Lady Gaga in “Dance Central” wears off, its launch software leaves much to be desired. So, assuming you’re not dead set on getting a Kinect, here are ten motion-based alternatives on the PlayStation 3 and Nintendo Wii that will (at the very least) help you survive the holidays.

GoldenEye 007 (Eurocom)
Platform: Nintendo Wii

I’ll freely admit that I initially thought remaking Rare’s 1997 classic was about as baffling and offensive as remaking the Mona Lisa, but Eurocom’s take on “GoldenEye 007” isn’t just a surprisingly faithful adaptation of the source material, but it’s also a competent first-person shooter that fans (both new and old) will be able to enjoy. You can use the classic and Wii remote to control Bond as you destroy half of Russia while trying to stop the devious plot of a renegade 00 agent. But Eurocom’s commitment to making “GoldenEye 007” a true Nintendo Wii title really shows with its silky smooth, highly customizable motion-based controls.

An honor once reserved for Sega’s “The Conduit”, “GoldenEye 007” embodies what every first-person shooter that uses motion controls should strive for. It’s easy to move, take cover, aim down the sights and snipe guards from a distance, and all of this is accomplished without the benefit of the Wii Motion Plus. Moving the Wii remote in order to spray lead at your enemies might not replicate the sensation of actually being in the game, but it’s considerably more enjoyable and far less static than twiddling your thumbs with a classic controller.

Kirbys Epic Yarn (HAL Laboratory)
Platform: Nintendo Wii

Though Kirby’s latest adventure hardly takes full advantage of the Wii’s motion sensing capabilities, HAL Laboratory still does a terrific job of making “Kirby’s Epic Yarn” a little more interactive than a traditional, 2D side scrolling experience. Besides, even if you do end up playing “Kirby’s Epic Yarn” without having to move the Wii remote most of the time, there’s absolutely no denying that it’s one of the most gorgeous and innovative games to be released this year. Its premise is as creative as can be, and the fact that it’s actually integrated as part of the visuals is nothing short of a stroke of artistic brilliance.

“Kirby’s Epic Yarn” is definitely a little on the easy side, but it’s still a game worth playing, if only to appreciate its breathtaking originality and sweet, nostalgic charm.

The Fight: Lights Out (Coldwood Interactive)
Platform: PlayStation 3

Critics have been pretty hard on Coldwood Interactive’s fistic fight simulator, but I’m still inclined to recommend it to boxing fans who are looking to shed some unwanted calories. This is partially because I’m subconsciously afraid that the game’s front man –intimidating actor Danny Trejo –might leap out through the screen and decapitate me with a machete. Also I enjoy using the word fistic whenever I can.

The truth is that “The Fight: Lights Out” is an incredibly frustrating game that requires your patience and understanding in order to appreciate its full potential. Yes, the camera and control calibration is a humongous pain in the ass, and yes, your first experience with “The Fight: Lights Out” might leave a bad taste in your mouth. But once you figure out the ideal conditions to play in (preferably ones that actually support head movement) and master all the moves and abilities you can unlock, “The Fight: Lights Out” does a pretty solid job of making you actually feel like you’re participating in a brawl.

So did critics completely miss the mark on “The Fight: Lights Out”? Yes and no. Most of the complaints made about the game are accurate for the most part, but if you’re willing to invest the time calibrating your camera and building up your character, “The Fight: Lights Out” will give you a great workout while making you feel like a totally badass street fighter.

Sly Cooper Collection (Sucker Punch Productions)
Platform: PlayStation 3

Even though the “Sly Cooper” collection for PlayStation 3 only takes advantage of the PlayStation Move controller in its selection of enjoyable mini-games, it still earns itself a spot on this list for being a shining beacon of awesomeness in video game history. Developed by Sucker Punch Productions, the same team behind the “Infamous” series, “Sly Cooper” features all the wit and charm of rival platform mascots Jak and Daxter and Ratchet and Clank but imbues the gameplay experience with stealth and mystery instead of gun-blazing action and humongous explosions.

Even though the “Sly Cooper” games are older (though they still look fantastic thanks to high definition remastering), they’re being republished on the PlayStation 3 for a good reason. Right up next to “God of War”, “Ratchet and Clank” and “Ico”, “Sly Cooper” was a franchise that helped define PlayStation 2’s legacy and is a necessary game experience for anyone who considers themselves a fan of the stealth/action genre.

Sports Champions (San Diego Studio, Zindagi Games)
Platform: PlayStation 3

I’ll be honest: Sony could have just put “Gladiator Duel” on the “Sports Champions” disc and I would have been perfectly content beating the crap out of all those foolish enough to spar against me. The fact that the game is filled to the brim with a number of sports, including Frisbee golf, table tennis and more, and you have an amazing compilation of fairly in-depth mini-games that take excellent advantage of the PlayStation Move’s 1:1 tracking technology.

Wii Sports might have popularized the notion of playing sports using motion controls, but “Sports Champion” trumps it with its superb motion tracking that leaves little room for complaints. Once you get the hang of spiking the ball, bashing faces in with your shield or perfecting the precision of your Frisbee throws, “Sports Champion” is a ridiculously addicting treat that will keep the Move controllers glued to your hands as you work up a solid sweat. In all honesty, from what I’ve seen of the Kinect’s version of “Sports Champion” or “Wii Sports”, it doesn’t even come close to rivaling both the technological prowess and sheer fun of its superior competitors.

Heavy Rain (Quantic Dream)
Platform: PlayStation 3

Quantic Dream’s “Heavy Rain” excelled at immersing gamers in its dark, rainy world of murder, sex, conspiracy and betrayal. The only real problem (aside from its abysmal voice acting) was that some of the tasks that the game requires, like setting the table or shaving, are tedious. The usage of PlayStation Move controls, though, alleviates some the monotony of these mundane tasks and allows you to feel even more connected to the gameplay experience.

Tiger Woods PGA Tour 11 (EA Tiburon)
Platform: Nintendo Wii / PlayStation 3

Golfing video games, like the “Hot Shot Golf” or “Tiger Woods” franchise, have always been successful largely due to the fact that it’s virtually impossible to accurately hit a real golf ball like the professionals. While you can always go outside and play basketball or football with your friends, golf is one of those sports that you actually need to be decent at in order to genuinely have fun, otherwise you’ll just end up spending your morning swearing profusely while smashing your putter into the green.

While previous generations of golf video games have been restricted to using a traditional remote to control the action, the Nintendo Wii and PlayStation Move actually allow gamers to truly feel like they’re part of the experience. Not only does “Tiger Woods PGA Tour 11” come with all the modes, gameplay features, and additional bells and whistles that fans have come to expect from the critically acclaimed series, but it’s designed specifically to accommodate the motion controls of Wii and PlayStation 3. Granted, swinging your Wii, or PlayStation Move remote, won’t teach you how to drive 250 yards, but at least you’ll actually be able to complete 18 holes and have fun doing it.

Wii Party (Nd Cube, Nintendo EAD)
Platform: Nintendo Wii

It’s been quite some time since Nintendo gave gamers the last “Mario Party”, but fortunately, “Wii Party” is a suitable replacement that delivers the same extremely addicting mini-games and board game marathons for the entire family to enjoy. The mini-games are incredibly diverse, offering a humongous selection of activities that range from balancing character on a swaying ship to navigating airplanes using your Wii remote. Most of the games are incredibly enjoyable and, unlike quite a few of the more uninspired games from the last “Mario Party”, actually require you to move and not just sit complacently on your couch using the D-Pad.

“Wii Party” isn’t the most novel of games and it might not demand the same kind of physical interaction as “Kinect Adventures” does, but with its expansive library of mini-games and four-player multiplayer support, it’s just as much fun to play with groups of friends.

NBA Jam (EA Canada)
Platform: Nintendo Wii

If you played “NBA Jam” in the 90’s, you know why you need to buy this game. The PlayStation 3 version, unfortunately, doesn’t utilize the PlayStation Move, but the Nintendo Wii version’s implementation of the Wii Remote’s motion-tracking makes shooting three point shots or slamming in a dunk home from downtown all the more rewarding. The only downside to this awesome remake of an even more awesome basketball game is that it’s missing the old-school theme song. The updated commentary makes up for this gross oversight somewhat, but honestly, what were they thinking removing one of the most iconic title songs of all time?

Just Dance 2 (Ubisoft)
Platform: Nintendo Wii

The Xbox 360 Kinect’s “Dance Central” is amazing. So amazing, in fact, that when I’m busting out my best moves to Lady GaGa, I feel as though I might have missed my calling to become a sexually ambiguous pop dancer. That said, if you’re not prepared to drop down $200 (the price of the Kinect and “Dance Central”) so you can embarrass yourself in front of everybody while dancing to “Poker Face”, Ubisoft’s “Just Dance 2” for the Nintendo Wii is a solid alternative.

“Just Dance 2” also requires you to mimic the choreography used by professional dancers, and while its reliance on motion controls definitely makes it less appealing than the immersive experience offered by “Dance Central”, its robust soundtrack of chart topping artists (like Rihanna, the Rolling Stones and Ke$ha) still makes it a fierce contender in the rhythm-based music genre.

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