The Motherloot Blog: Product Reviews

Review: Kinect Rush: A Disney Pixar Adventure

We were recently given the chance to try out “Kinect Rush: A Disney Pixar Adventure”, a new game for the Xbox 360 Kinect. As we are big fans of the movies (oh, and our kids too), we were really looking forward to trying it out.

You first start by using the Kinect to create an avatar for each player. Instead of selecting your likeness like most other games, the game leverages the Kinect to scan you instead. What we thought was going to be an innovative and fun way to create a character, quickly turned into a long and frustrating experience. After patiently going through the multi-step process, we ended up with rather generic looking characters that had no obvious resemblance. Worse, the system struggled to “scan” our daughter at all. After 5 agonizing minutes of holding still, she had enough of the game and quit. Not the best first impression for a game aimed at her.

Once you survive the avatar creation process though, things pick up. You arrive at a Pixar-themed park where you roam about by jogging in place. The park is split into distinct areas based on the movies Up!, The Incredibles, Cars 2, Ratatouille, and Toy Story 3. The park itself doesn’t have anything in the way of activities or interactive features. It’s just a way to select the mission or challenge you’d like to play. Once you maneuver your avatar to the right location, a cutscene starts where another kid from the park starts a dialog with you and your imagination takes you into one of the Pixar movies. This is where the real action begins.

In each challenge, you take on the likeness of a character from the movie and team up with some of the more well-known personalities from the flicks. Most missions have the same basic premise and gameplay: You and your digital (or real-life) partner must rush through the environment and make it through numerous obstacles along the way. The visuals are undoubtedly the best part of the game. They are absolutely gorgeous and faithful to each film. You truly feel as if you are in a new scene from the movie, interacting with their unique characters and environment.

Unfortunately, the game is called Kinect Rush. Each challenge is a race to get through these beautiful surrounding as fast as you can. With this pressure, you don’t feel like you have any time to enjoy or appreciate what’s going on around you.

That leads us to the controls. This is a Kinect-only game so you are the controller. At times, this can be a real joy. Jumping, climbing, and holding on a wire as you slide down its length is fun and intuitive. Walking or running about, which you are doing the majority of the time, is another matter.

Getting momentum is easy enough, just swing your arms. Unfortunately, it’s getting your character to go where you want them to that’s the problem. To turn your character, you rotate your body just as you would change direction in real life. However, this does not translate when you’re in front of your TV, where you instinctively want to always face the action. I observed every member of the family trying to lean in the direction they wanted to go, which doesn’t work. At a recent family get-together we invited other members to give the game a try and, despite the on-screen instructions, they leaned instead of turned as well. Even when you do it right, the characters often turn at a snail’s pace. This really damages the experience.

The notable exception is the challenges for Cars. For these, you hold an imaginary steering wheel to drive through these fast-paced missions. Controlling the vehicles is natural and a blast. It’s just too bad that the rest of the game isn’t like this.

Despite these challenges with the game, your character never dies which definitely can help with the crying and tantrums that can ensue when your character is gone. If you are met with a particular challenge that you can’t complete, your character simply disappears and then reappears. For small kids, this is definitely a bonus feature.

Overall, Kinect Rush captures the mood of Pixar’s films through rich and beautifully detailed levels. However, with some exceptions, is hindered by frustrating controls.

Suggested Retail Price: $49.96

Website With More Information: Disney Pixar Adventure (Kinect Rush)

 

I am a part of the Walmart Moms program, and Walmart has provided me with compensation for these posts. My participation is voluntary and opinions are always my own.

 

Review: Glory of Heracles for Nintendo DS

A new game based on the character Heracles from Greek mythology will be released this week and we were given a copy to put through the paces. If you long for the classic RPGs of your childhood or want your kids to have the same experience on an updated platform, this is your ticket.

Based around the plot that you’re an immortal hero who has lost his memory but is apparently Heracles, you met up with fellow immortals and make your way towards Mt. Olympus. There’s all the typical RPG elements that have been seen hundreds of times before. You lay the smack down on killer bugs, trees, and an endless supply of angry creatures. You get money to buy better equipment, experience and new skills to bring new levels of hurt upon those who stand in your way, and are thrown into a variety of mini-quests to keep the storyline moving.

There are two things that make this game really likable however. First of is the sense of humor. Right from the gun, there are layers of sarcastic and genuine comedy in the writing that will grab your attention and keep it. Even during the tutorials, which are oftentimes painful necessities of a game, the smart wit keeps things entertaining. There’s running jokes about hair, a gender-confused character, and even about the RPG genre itself. I’ve not seen this level of writing in this kind of game before, which is a good thing because you’ll spend a lot of time reading.

The second thing that struck me was the animation. I’ve come to expect the same generic kind of movement from characters in these classic RPGs. When you fall asleep, your character is merely rotated horizontal. When he attacks, a little stick moves up and down a few times and maybe the monster shakes. Not so in Heracles.

The anime-like movie intro is an impressive start, but it’s the detail of the in-game animation that really blows you away. The characters move fluidly. If they get up after a fall, it’s a complete and convincing movement. In battles, they wind up before bashing a crazy-eyed tree monster over the head. As the fights are the central point of the game, having monsters with unique and interesting animations keeps it fresh. As an added bonus, the humorous dialog appears even here with taunts from your characters and exclamations like “not my hair!”

Overall, the game is an entertaining one that moves along quick enough that your kids won’t become bored with monotony but challenging enough to keep them busy for a long time. The in-game tutorials are numerous, but short and spread out on a need-to-know basis which helps. Beginners can make use of the auto-mode where the game decides the next move in a fight. Advanced players however can take over the reins where they perform a variety of skill tests to make their attacks more effective. The animation makes it a joy on the eyes and the dialog, though many times over the kids’ heads, surely has enough to give them a good chuckle.

Suggested Retail Price: $27.99

Website for More Details: Glory of Heracles

This product was received as a review sample. The thoughts and opinions expressed will always be honest and heartfelt and no reflection on receiving a sample copy.  We promise to always do our best to also give away each of these products to our readers because it is always better to give than to receive!  Want to know more about how things are handled here at MomAdvice? Be sure to read our Disclaimer which clearly states how things work and know that we will always offer only the best reviews to our readers.

Pikmin Wii Game

pikminWe had the chance to review a rather interesting new game for the Wii called Pikmin recently. It’s a remake of a game that came out way back in 2001, so if your kids played that one, there’s not a lot different for them this time around.

The concept is simple: A little guy has crash landed on a planet and the parts of his ship are scattered everywhere. He’s about 2 inches high, so it’s not like he can just walk over and pick up the pieces. The environment is like something out of Honey, I Shrunk the Kids where a small rock is a mountain of an obstacle and simple bugs are monsters.

Luckily, you quickly find help in your quest, and it’s what this game is all about. There’s these little seed creatures that apparently think of you as their mother and will blindly follow you wherever you go. You direct them to create more creatures, tear down obstacles, and battle bugs on your hunt for parts of your ship. There are 3 different types that you can direct, each with their own capabilities and you have to figure out how to leverage them to gain access to different areas of the world.

The crux of the game is to figure out what needs to be done to find the next part of your ship. What makes that difficult is the time limit the game imposes on you. You have 30 game days to gather what you need before your air supply runs out and you apparently die some horrible death. Each day is about 15 minutes long, so you need to get whatever you plan on doing done in that amount of time.

This is what can make the game frustrating for kids who oftentimes just want to explore and have fun. If you really want to make progress, you’ll have to hit the ground running and solve puzzles as fast as you can. Otherwise, it will be impossible to complete it within the time given. If you do really screw up one of the days, you can go back to a previous day and try again, but it would have been nice if the game allowed more freedom for the kids just to do whatever they want. Furthermore, you don’t have much area to explore unless you do make progress, so you’ll get extremely tired of seeing the same blades of grass and flowers if you’re just looking to explore.

The kids did enjoy the fact how everything was giant and got a kick out of directing a mob of 100 creatures around (which really is fun for a while), but quickly grew frustrated when they couldn’t proceed past certain points in the time given. I think without the time limits, they would have been able to think about and try different tactics, but ever-present push to make progress all the time took some fun out of it. In the end, it’s a cute and unique concept, but younger kids will probably need assistance in the difficult parts or they’ll quickly abandon it.

Suggested Retail Price: $29.99

Website For More Details: Pikmin Wii Game

Bratz Ponyz 2 Nintendo DS Game

For this review, I passed the torch on to a family of  some of my very favorite little girls, The Wegner Family! My daughter was a little too young for this product, but I always know I can count on my friend Michelle to help me in my time of need. To learn more about their family, please visit Michelle Wegner! A big thank you to Maddie for helping us and sharing her perspective on this product.

bratz-ponyz-2My daughter Maddie got her one Christmas wish this year-A Nintendo DS.  One of the games she received was Bratz/Ponyz 2.  Read what a 10 year old has to say about the game.

Tell me the main idea of the game.

The player is the Pony, and the idea is to get the pony to collect hearts (points) and to finish all the game agendas by completing the games.

How many games are there to complete?

You have to play the same games over and over to complete the agenda.  There are some games that change every other time.

What do you like about this game?

Sometimes when you complete a level, you can earn another island, which means you get on a ship or hot air balloon and fly or sail to the new place.

So…what do Bratz or Ponyz have to do with the game?

Bratz is just the name brand.  There are no Bratz in the game (My Mom doesn’t like us to play with Bratz dolls).  The ponyz look like regular little ponies, but they are all different colors.

What don’t you like about the game?

You have to repeat the games over and over again and sometimes they get a little boring.

You are 10.  Do you think this is a good game for someone your age?

It depends on what their personality is.  If they were a tomboy, I wouldn’t recommend it.  If they were a girly-girl, I would recommend it.

Is there anything else you would like to say about Bratz Ponyz?

You can put make-up on your pony, put glitter or highlights in their hair, pick out their shoes, and change the background.

Out of 5 stars, how many stars would you give this game?

3 and a half.

Suggested Retail Price: $22.99

Website for More Details: Bratz Ponyz 2

Rockin’ It Out With Wii Music

When our copy of Wii Music arrived, we were a bit skeptical. Based on the summary, the game lets you play a bunch of virtual musical instruments by waving around your Wii remote and pressing buttons. I’ll be honest and say that did not sound very satisfying on paper. However, after countless jam sessions, hand bell performances, symphonies, and music video recording, I can tell you that this game is incredible.

Unlike most games, there is no set path and there is no right or wrong way to experience Wii Music. The game is more of a tool to allow your kids (and you) to understand music theory and foster their musical creativity. This is not done through the sadistic exercises that piano teacher from your childhood employed. Rather, the game introduces you to the basic mechanics of the various instruments and underlying concepts of music and sets you on your way.

You start with about two dozen different instruments to try. As you progress through the additional lessons, games, and challenges offered, you unlock more. This process is extremely satisfying because of not only the sheer number the game offers in total (a whopping 60!), but also their variety and humor. This is a fantastic way to introduce you children to instruments they would never have the opportunity to experience otherwise. Sure, there are the expected standards like a drum set, piano, violin, trumpet and guitar, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

Ever played the djembe or taiko drums? Rocked out with a shamisen or sitar? Maybe strummed a dandy on the jaw harp? Neither had I until Wii Music. For some real laughs, you can “play” a dog or cat suit (your Mii barks or meows while dress in full costume), lay down some dope beats with your DJ turntables or beat-boxing, or just go nuts as a cheerleader yelling and shaking your pom-poms. There is enough variety here to keep your family smiling for hours.

Getting to the actual music, the main mode is the “jam sessions” where you can choose your role in the band (melody, percussion, bass, etc) and play your heart out to dozens of songs from the elementary “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star” to some pop and rock classics like “Mr. Postman” or “Material Girl”. Your kids are not scored, graded, or judged like other music games like Guitar Hero. They are free to play however they like, in whatever style they like. They don’t have to worry about the notes they play, as the game does a surprisingly intelligent job of deciding that for them. To get a great performance, it’s all about the timing, rhythm, and the gusto with which they play.

The lessons mode does a fantastic job of gradually teaching them more advanced concepts of musical theory. It demonstrates how you can play the same song in different styles and how the mood of a song can change from start to finish. This serves as a great teaching tool and make the game more engaging by enabling your kids to play the same songs it an endless variety of ways. You can see what I mean in this video:

There are other modes such as music videos, hand bell performances, music quizzes (another great teaching tool), and our favorite, conductor. Conductor allows you to take control over a symphony or choir who follow your lead through a number of rousing classical numbers. Depending on the speed and tempo of your movements, the musicians will play faster, slower, louder, or softer. This is one mode that does score you and leads to some great competition. If you conduct with robot-like precision, you will not get as high of a score as you might think. You are awarded for creativity and the personality you inject into the performance.

Words can only go so far in describing what playing Wii Music is like, so check out this video and then get your copy!

Suggested Retail Price: $49.99

Website For More Details: Wii Music (Amazon)

Mystery Case Files: MillionHeir

Loved those “find the hidden objects” puzzles in Highlights magazine as a kid and want to introduce your own spawn to the glee of finding a needle in a haystack? Well hold onto your hat because we’ve got just the game to do it. Mystery Case Files: MillionHeir is a new game for the Nintendo DS that takes this concept and wraps it in a new package for today’s generation.

Million Heir’s story is simple, a rich guy has gone missing and it’s up to you to solve the mystery. Make no mistake, this is no Hardy Boys or Nancy Drew conspiracy that requires keen interrogation skills or psychic -like intuition to solve. All you need is a keen eye because you’ll be hunting the most irrelevant clues you’ve ever come across. Seriously, the hidden objects that you must find to unravel the clues have nothing to do with anything. Found that scalloped shell and bowling pin in the tool shed? Great! Now go find an alien in the garden (no, the alien isn’t even a suspect). That said, the nonsensical clues aren’t really the point. Hunting down these camouflaged objects is what it’s all about.

Maybe your kids will get a hold of this and think, hey, I’m tired of using my eyes, I’ll just click around randomly like I’m having a caffeine seizure and beat this silly little game! That might work for a while, but the game introduces a good mix of tools that you’ll have to use in later stages to find the clues such as flashlights for the dark and a super straw for blowing out fires. There’s also a healthy mix of puzzles and amusing mini-games to break up the repetitiveness.

Even though you visit each stage more than once, the items you have to find are different each time. Since there are dozens and dozens of hidden objects, but you only need find the handful on your list, you’ll find yourself taking mental notes that the knight is wielding a hammer for some odd reason for the next time you return. In addition, there is a good sense of humor mixed into the scenes that your kids might not catch but will certainly make us older folk giggle.

Despite the fact the game can be completed by a determined spy in a couple of evenings and the objects are always in the same place, the sheer number of things to find are plentiful enough to keep your kids coming back for more than once. The art is great and the mood music is exceptional, making it a treat for the senses. A wide range of ages would enjoy this game, though I would recommend being available when they’re struggling to understand what a halberd or obelisk even is, much less where it is hidden.

The game is available for just under $20 bucks. If your kids enjoy this series, there’s a number of previous Mystery Case File games that can be played on the computer.

Suggested Retail Price: $19.99

Website for More Details: Mystery Case Files: MillionHeir

Animal Paradise for Nintendo DS

Is your little princess demanding a pony? Are the kids going on a hunger strike until you buy them their own circus elephant? Well, you and I both know that’s never going to happen. However, you might want to pacify their rioting with a much less expensive and smelly alternative, Animal Paradise for the Nintendo DS.

The game is simple. You have to care for a pet by doing many of the things you’d have to do in real life: feed them, walk them, pet them, give them a bath, etc. By doing so, you increase the animal’s affection towards you. As their love goes up, you’ll earn ridiculously cute photos of the animal and unlock new animals to play with.

There’s 18 animals in all and range from a variety of cats and dogs to some more interesting choices like a chicken, squirrel, miniature pig, and Jangalian hamster. Your kids will need to keep up with each animal, which is a great way to introduce them to the responsibilities of owning a pet. The controls are extremely easy with the DS touch screen. If you need to pet a dog for example, you just scratch the screen. They animal will react to whatever you’re doing, so it’s great positive feedback for the kids. There are also several “mini-games” to break up the action and serves as a nice way of sharpening their puzzle solving skills.

Unfortunately, that’s about it. Once you unlock all the animals and photos, the game doesn’t offer much more past that point. You can continue maintaining the animal’s undying affection towards you, but there’s nothing new to satisfy you beyond that.

This is a really good game for young kids and our 6-year-old was over the moon about it. Appropriately, it’s recommended for kids 3 and up. The game will be available on September 23rd for just under $20.

Suggested Retail Price: $19.99

Website For More Details: Animal Paradise