For a Star Wars fan who's still smarting from the second trilogy, the Kinect Star Wars game is a chance to revisit old wounds for a spot of septic licking. Thankfully, I'm not one of those guys. I mean I hated the films - what sane person wouldn't? - and it's always fun pointing out that, over the course of his long life, George Lucas has taken contradicting stances on the subject of artists returning to their works. But after frying my hate circuits at the release of Revenge of the Sith, something ended in me. I lost all fury and hope, and stopped caring. So if I'm going to love or hate Kinect Star Wars, it's going to have to be on its own merits.
First, Pod Racing. The sport that was almost certainly invented for video games. Pod Racing, the "fastest, most thrilling sport in the galaxy", according to C-3PO. Which is odd, to say he was sneering at it in a previous scene. It's like the scriptwriters didn't have a massive meeting to determine what C-3PO's definitive attitude is, with regards to Pod Racing.
As a mini-game, it's as easy to get into as you'd expect, and immediately entertaining. Put your arms out in front of you to go forwards, pull an arm backwards to reduce the throttle from the corresponding rocket, turning you in the direction of the retracted arm. Push forwards to boost, slam sideways to ram, and sweep both arms upwards to jump an obstacle. It's responsive enough, and the tracks are wide enough to allow for an inevitable margin of error. Younger kids with less refined motor skills can use optional guides, that help out with the steering and throttle.
The problem is, you're holding out your arms in front of you. My teacher used to make us do that, if we talked during classes. It's a psychological and physical punishment. Over the course of a longer match, you'll feel your arms shrink into yourself, your motions shrinking. It's not a matter of physical fitness - this is control system that would work, if it weren't for the way that human bodies operate.
Next, there's Rancor Rampage, where you take control of a rampaging monster and wreak havok. This is pure, "look what I'm doing, mum" fun, or "look what I'm doing" fun, depending on whether or not you're six years old. You'll stamp around a village, smashing buildings. You'll eat people, hurl stuff, charge, clap, and stamp. You'll cause slow but satisfying devastation to buildings, humans and droids. Mini-missions give you a sense of purpose, and the score goes towards unlocking things as exciting as new locations, a new kind of Rancor, and score multipliers. The idea of a score multiplier as an unlockable feels rather quaint. Almost... like there were no other ideas for unlockables.
This is exactly as much fun as it looks in the adverts. You get the feeling there's a germ of an idea for a great Kinect Arcade game here, but in its current format, it's as shallow as it is entertaining. There's not much to pull you back into the game, unless you've got a child-like love of repetition. Which, let's face it, a lot of children do have.
Then, there's dancing. If you've played Dance Central, you'll be familiar with the system - move cards rise on the side of the screen, and you take them as cues to mimic the characters. In order to get this into some form of acceptable canon, the set-up is sweetly off-key. C-3PO and R2-D2 are sifting through the Jedi Archives, and some of the records have merged with an old entertainment system. It doesn't make sense, but it's enough of a nod to the weirdness of the game to keep everyone happy.