The Kinect continues to try and find its groove. It is a learning process, and one that will put Kinect users through growing pains along the way. Developers will prod, pry, push and cajole until they find a mix that works. Some titles will find that sweet spot, while others won’t. The newest try for the Kinect is an natural and inevitable one—a snowboarding game.
Adrenalin Misfits is a game that was due out for Kinect sooner or later under one banner or another. It is an obvious translation– it is a game that is based on a sport where the majority of movement is naturally suited for a movement-based controller. Odds are you can expect more titles in the future of a similar slant; skateboarding, surfing, any board game where the momentum can be explained through the game, allowing the player to focus on the movement. Adrenalin Misfits is the first of no doubt many games of a similar ilk.
The game itself is a mixed result of success and boredom. A younger crowd will probably gravitate to the presentation, but the ultimately unfulfilling gameplay will not offer enough to satisfy the majority of people for long.
The Misfits’ style
There is no story to speak of, and adding a cast of characters known as the Misfits seems more designed to add a visually appealing look for kids than really add anything to the game. Sporting games in general tend to skip on story for obvious reasons, but since the game veers away from realism to include a series of cartoony characters, then names the game after them, it is worth noting that there really is no backstory.
The style and look of Adrenalin Misfits is a generic and unsurprising take on what a big company thinks kids will appreciate as “hip” and “edgy.” It is the same idea that has existed for more than twenty years under a dozen different equally generic banners. Maybe it is the “cool wolf,” or the “awesome skater,” but whatever the skin, it is the same thing at its core, and even though the characters in the game are original, they feel very familiar.
That isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it is not a good one either, and it highlights a lack of originality. Maybe that isn’t an issue for a snowboarding game, but it does seem representative of the development that went into this game. Besides, you have the option to use your own avatar, which will probably appeal to fans more than some generic dog man that you unlock.
As you play through the various levels and challenges, you unlock new characters and boards that have unique attributes. The progression is minor, but it is there. The system to progress is fairly blasé though, and you simply play to open up more upgrades rather than do anything specific.
When it comes to a snowboarding game, the characters you use don’t matter compared to how the game plays. In Adrenalin Misfits, the game plays exactly how you might think. If you lean left, your character moves left; jump, and your character does the same, etc., etc.. You can also do tricks by moving in certain directions which activate tricks. It is exactly the same as you would think a snowboarding game for the Kinect would be, and nothing will surprise you.
The lag inherent in the Kinect is apparent, but not as bad as it is in other games. It does mean that tricks tend to be a mess, and you will probably do several movements, then just hope enough of them register before you hit the ground. To describe it in one word, it is “imprecise.”
Kids will probably find it fun, and two player battles between friends should offer a good distraction for younger fans, but older players and longtime gamers are likely to quickly find the game to be more of a novelty than a true snowboard simulator.
The various gametypes include downhill races, big jumps, half pipes, and a balloon grab (which is essentially a race with points earned by touching balloons). There are a few others, but they are all nearly identical, and they come down to either racing for the best time, or doing tricks for the best score.
From start to finish, the game feels more like a demo for what the Kinect can do than an actual game. There really isn’t much to it beyond the mechanics of moving to control your board, which is a shame because a little more development time and a more inspired approach to the game could have made this a breakout hit for the Kinect.
A fun, but limited diversion that will appeal mostly to kids, Adrenalin Misfits is likely to be the first of many boarding games on the Kinect. Odds are, it will also be quickly eclipsed by the first developer that is able to present more of a snowboarding game than just a means for the Kinect to be used.
Adrenalin Misfits is an inoffensive game that becomes lifeless once you have seen everything it has to offer — which should take less than an hour. It should appeal to the very young, and the “cute rebels” that make up the Misfits seem to be geared more towards that crowd. Adrenalin Misfits is a novelty, and one that amuses for a while, but quickly grows stale.
Score: 4.5 out of 10
(This game was reviewed on the Xbox 360 on a copy provided by Konami)