Parents' Choice Foundation: Reviewing Children's Media Since 1978

Kinect Star Wars

Kinect Star Wars

Fall 2012 Video Games
Ages: 13 & Up
Price: $49.99
Gaming System: Xbox 360

Turn up the iconic Star Wars soundtrack and shake the rust off your lightsaber moves. With R2-D2 and C-3PO as your lighthearted guides, the Kinect Star Wars game draws from the first Star Wars prequel through the third to create a storyline and several action-packed play modes.

Parents should note that the Star Wars environments and main characters are all here, which means that so too is the series' (now-animated) violence. Your character, controlled by your movements off-screen as read by the Kinect motion sensor, spends a lot of time slashing at evil-empire droids with a lightsaber and using The Force to foil enemy Stormtroopers and beasts. No blood is shown, but it is still a battle-oriented game.

To start, players take the basic Jedi training from Yoda. After that, Jedis accelerate into interactive modes, which unfold scene after scene. The challenges are lifted straight from the prequel trilogy, and they include a terrific high-speed Podracing mode, a Death Star attack, a Rancor Rampage (you control of a gigantic Rancor and smash towns and settings), and the many Duels of Fate lightsaber battles. Along the way, players will also battle Empire droids, duel with the Sith, escape from a sarlacc pit, race vehicles, fire from the turret on a Starfighter, and more.

This Kinect foray into the Star Wars galaxy uses a remarkable variety of motions to control game play. Mostly this is a good thing, however the subtlety of some movements is lost on Kinect. Kinect does its best to translate your moves into game play action on screen. While there's a real thrill in swinging away with a lightsaber, the motion-reading technology isn't flawless. It does pretty well in reading more types of complex movements, gestures, and activity than most Kinect games you'll play, but there will be some frustrations and glitches. But that's minor quibbling, because the two player mode will remind you how amazing Kinect technology is. If a second player jumps into the sensor area, the screen automatically splits and proceeds in two-player mode. Playing in the Star Wars universe with two players is a blast.

Younger players will have fun with the Galactic Dance-Off game, even though Star Wars purists may balk at it. It's kind of like the Just Dance videogames, except with the likes of Han Solo, Leia and Luke Skywalker doing the electric slide. It's a fun and funny exercise for little kids, but even C3PO on-screen calls the dancing "an error."

Kinect Star Wars is not so much a linear game as it is a series of Star Wars styled romps. Younger Jedis will undoubtedly enjoy it, and older ones will enjoy immersing themselves in the Star Wars story.

Don Oldenburg   ©2012 Parents' Choice
A former feature writer and consumer columnist at The Washington Post for 22 years, Don Oldenburg is the Director of Publications and Editor of the National Italian American Foundation, in Washington, D.C. He regularly reviews books for USA Today and is the coauthor of "The Washington DC-Baltimore Dog Lovers Companion" (Avalon Travel). The proud father of three sons, he lives with his journalist-author wife, Ann Oldenburg, in McLean, VA.

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