Microsoft had a big Kinect space on the show floor at PAX East, but I was dismayed to find that the majority of the units were playing Kinect Sports and Dance Central. They had one unit for The Gunstringer, and Ubisoft had Child of Eden at its own booth. Other than those two, the only other new Kinect games I got to try were Michael Jackson: The Experience and Carnival Games: Monkey See, Monkey Do.
I'd heard that the Michael Jackson game was going to be playable, but didn't see it until Saturday. Turns out they had a problem with the demo and had to wait for a new disc. The game has been out for a while on the Wii, but I never even considered that as a possible purchase, because after playing Dance Central, you can't really go back to the Just Dance-style Wiimote waggle controls. So I was super-psyched to get my hands on the Kinect version of the game (so to speak). Unfortunately, I still felt like I was playing a Just Dance title. Instead of an on-screen dancer, you see yourself in grainy webcam footage with a live-action backup dancer on either side whose moves you mirror. I kept getting really bad scores, but without Dance Central's visual feedback, I didn't know what I was doing wrong or what needed correction.
I selected "Billie Jean," and the background on which I danced was a stage reminiscent of the street with the light-up pavement from the song's classic music video. I didn't understand until after I finished why the game seemed to pause and pull back to show an audience before I danced the next section of the song. Turns out that I was playing the two player mode. Although why there was no on-screen indicator that it was another player's turn, I don't know. Maybe it hasn't been added yet. I was told that there's also going to be a singing mode as well as a singing and dancing mode, both of which use the Kinect's mic so you don't have to hold a second one. Oh, and don't worry about singing and dancing at the same time you'll take turns. I have to say that while I was looking forward to the Kinect version of this game thinking it was going to be Dance Central with Michael Jackson songs, it still felt like Just Dance, sketchy controls and all. Maybe I'll change my mind about it when it releases in April.
The other game I was able to demo was Carnival Games: Monkey See, Monkey Do, which is yet another mini-game collection that uses your Avatar, due out in April. The game they had to play was a rocket ship game where you jump to lift off, then hold your arms out to the side, tilting back and forth to steer your ship. You have to avoid satellites, stars, the moon and a UFO in order to safely land on Mars. It was a lot harder than it looked, and after failing three times and losing, she let me try another round since there wasn't a line at the time. I made it on the very next time, but it was surprisingly difficult, and I kept overcompensating and running into things. It's nice that Microsoft is continuing to support the Kinect peripheral, but I feel like we're going to have to rely on outside developers like Twisted Pixel and Ubisoft to make games that use the motion controller in new and creative ways. Because I'm starting to feel oversaturated with dance games and mini-game collections.