Previews

Kinect Party - become Godzilla in Double Fine's motion-sensing sandbox

A new breed of all-ages experience

Double Fine has always had a natural affinity with the younger mind. It explored the isolation and mental turmoil of the teenager in Psychonauts. Costume Quest featured younger kids, but never felt patronising. And Happy Action Theatre and Sesame Street regressed even further, to the gurgling pre-schoolers. If Tim Schafer could design a game that freshly fertilised eggs could play, he almost certainly would.

So it's no surprise that this Happy Action Theatre sequel reaches all age groups. But while that game filled your living room with lava and space creature dance parties, Kinect Party turns its transforming eye onto the player.

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The assortment of mini-games are refined and tweaked, but broadly similar to HAT's formula. One mini-game called 'Chop Master' has you flailing your arms to crack planks, throw ninja stars and open pickle jars. On the surface, it feels a little, and please forgive us for this, old HAT.

However, there's one crucial difference: Kinect Party will dress you in a samurai outfit and Raiden's hat. Okay, maybe it's not a crucial difference, but it all adds to the fun. Similarly, 'Castle Smasher' is reminiscent of Happy Action Theatre's building-stamping Godzilla game - only this time you're a fire-breathing dragon that vomits fire in response to your bellowed voice commands.

Parties aren't parties unless you're posting pictures that people who weren't invited can jealously comment on. HAT's biggest weakness was to confine your photos to the console. Kinect Party will let you post your shenanigans to Facebook. We got a real kick out of being morphed into Minecraft characters, complete with pixellated axes, and there's nothing quite like beating up a car, Street Fighter II-style.

The absolute highlight has to be a stage that turns players into versions of Limbo's nameless main character. He's not someone who's known for light-hearted fun, preferring instead to spend his spare time getting speared to death by a huge spider. But in Kinect Party, you can snag a power-up that makes money fly out of his hands. It's an amazing and completely inappropriate image that we can't wait to reproduce ourselves. If only to shout "what the hell is happening" at our Kinect.

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