Another kiddo game makes it to us, this time our furry friend Puss In Boots from the well-known Shrek. Puss In Boots is due out in theaters very soon, if you haven’t heard of either the movie or the game, this is what it’s all about:
Become the swashbuckling cat with the sharp sword and even sharper wits in this game set in the fairy tale universe of Shrek! Based on the Puss in Boots movie, this slick adventure begins in Puss in Boots’ hometown and takes you up the beanstalk to the Giant’s castle in the sky, and beyond. Learn swordplay as you duel banditos and fight with unmistakable Puss in Boots style. Outsmart enemies with clever tricks and use quick reflexes to perform cool moves in battle. Just don’t get too caught up in being a hero – be sure to save some time to sing for the senoritas you meet on your journey.
It’s a decent kid’s title, it has a mixture of different things to do such as sword play, sneaking, posing, jumping and more. I had some high hopes for this as Puss is just an all-around loved character, I was hoping the furry guy would have made it big. Anyhow, the problem with it as with most Kinect titles, it’s really short and lacks diversity, but then again, for a kid’s game, it will probably be fine. There’s a few things to do, but the game will become dull in a very short time. I haven’t seen the movie yet so I can’t tell you if everything is there, but Antonio’s voice is in there thankfully – he just plays the part so well. I did enjoy Kung Fu Panda 2 as a whole more than this one however, the sword fighting in this is way cooler than Panda Kung Fu.
The menu is very simplified which is good for kids. There’s only 4 options, Adventure, Challenges, Options and Extras. Before you go jumping into the game, if you or your sibling are not right-handed I suggest going into the options and changing it. The game defaults to right-handed users and it detects very well, in that if you are left-handed, your left hand will leave you helpless. The menu is also a hover and lock system, but you get a nice paw to move around.
The adventure mode is your story mode. The story is presented in a very cartoony, barely animated presentation. I don’t understand why these games have beautiful character graphics but the actual presentation of the story is always dumbed down. Kids like graphics too! Anyhow, some of the story portions are a few minutes long but you can sit down during it. I also was able to skip the movie by swinging my hand in a sword like motion. Once you are through the first presentation, then the game begins. Puss is really detailed as well as the other characters, almost Dreamworks quality. However the backgrounds, environment and the bad guys are dumbed down to a cartoon level. It’s almost like Puss and his friends don’t belong there.
Your first level is probably the most exciting, a bar fight with swords. The way sword fighting is integrated is actually really cool. The way it works is you first draw your sword (gesture required) and then you can swing it left and right, diagonal, and even up and down. What the key is though, you have to actually move around to really dish out some damage. Since you’re a cat, you can move really fast. I’d say it’s almost 1:1, but you can move “around” your opponents to get behind them and slice them with your sword. In the video, as the camera is moving left and right, I am moving left and right, you need a little bit of room to play this game but it is really cool. The way this works is really good and was a brilliant idea. Check out the video below, hopefully it helps you understand what I’m trying to explain.
While you are fighting you also have 3 special moves. There’s a Kick move that you build up by swinging your sword from what I noticed or blocking attacks, and this move helps a lot. Battles are fought only fighting one guy at a time which is kind of annoying but it is fine for kids, this method was the same thing in Kung Fu Panda 2. The other interesting thing is there are traps setup throughout the entire environment. This is where your kick move becomes very useful. You can line up where you want to kick a bad guy and spring a trap. Kicking is done by literally kicking. Traps vary from all kinds of different things such as kicking a guy off a ledge, down a well, into something that falls on top of their head and others. It is actually pretty neat. There’s also some special things to collect by using the kick method such as golden eggs and wanted posters, some of them are kind of hard to spot though. The kick method will not completely kill a bad guy even though it is a special move. It is refilled faster than your other special attacks.
Your second special move is “claws”. You can immediately build this up by blocking an attack or over time by swinging your sword. The bad guys don’t attack very often and it warns you before they do. All you have to do is hold up your sword in the direction their sword is coming. To use your claw attack, you just jump. Puss will jump on someone and run all over their body. To deal the most damage, you have to do a clawing gesture and tear him to shreds, kind of violent but Dreamworks has always had a sense of humor.
Your last special is a guitar attack. To get these, there are guitars lying around in the environment. You have to boot a bad guy into the guitar to get it. Once you have it, the icon will be lit up and to activate it, you have to raise both hands in the air. Puss will whistle and then a guitar falls down from the sky. You then play air guitar, depending on how well you play air guitar, you can get up to 3 bad guys to start dancing. Once the meter is filled up, or the guitar gauge is empty (whichever comes first), you then swing the guitar like a baseball bat. This triggers Puss to swing the guitar and smash it upside their head. I found this quite funny the first couple of times.
That really concludes the whole fighting portion. There are other things to do that are involved, but you kind of want to sword fight the whole time. The other things it has you do, is it sort of turns into a platformer where you have to jump to different platforms and ledges and what not, as well as climbing, scurrying across a ledge, a balance gesture when walking across ropes or ledges, and dodging things by moving left and right. You will also be introduced to a “Serenade” section. Some random cat pops up and Puss is all “Ooh-La-La”. So he whips out his guitar and you have to air guitar again to serenade her. Once you get near the end of the song, you have to kneel to really make her fall for you. It’s more humorous than anything. One more note, you do not have to run in place at all. After you complete the 1st area, you move onto the 2nd. This is where it becomes disappointing.
The 2nd area introduces you to the “Sneaking” portion of the game. It’s basically red light, green light but made a little bit more interesting. You walk in place when the word “Sneak” is on the screen, Puss will sneak through. Then it will say “Freeze” and you just have stop walking. It’s all pre-determined so if you time it, you can make it through faster. It has you stop about 5-8 times in each “sneak” area depending on how far you get each time. It becomes a tedious task and takes you from adrenalin rushing, fast paced sword fighting to a very dull sneaking mode. If you get bored with sneaking, it then turns into a sneaking pose mode. Basically Puss hides behind certain objects and you have to pose to stay in that shape. There is a section where you have a dance off with your female friend and to dance, you just pose. It’s quite funny though, one of the dance moves is hilarious, we’ll call it the “Dirty Butt” move.
The last type of gameplay that is introduced is a “leaning” game. With leaning, you are in different situations, the first has you in a suitcase chained to a stage-coach. By leaning left and right, you slide around left and right in the suitcase. Later on, it gets a little better as you ride a leaf like a skate/surf/snow board and you are able to lean forward and backward to go faster or slow down. Leaning is super accurate as well, even better than the Skiing in Kinect Sports Season 2.
The problem with the adventure mode is there’s only 9 levels. It took me 2 hours to complete watching the stories and all and taking a 5 minute break. 3 of these levels are sword fighting w/ platformer or one or the other only, 3 are the sneaking modes and 3 are the leaning modes. There really isn’t a lot of variety unfortunately. We know kids like to play things over and over but I honestly don’t know if this is enough. Kung Fu Panda 2 has 15 levels and a few more different types of break up fighting games, so it was good mixture all around. I’m guessing they had to release before theater release date with no option so they did what they could, it is unfortunate.
The bad guys only consist of 2 difficulties I believe. There’s normal guys and then a little more harder than normal guys, the cat catchers. They just have more life/stamina whatever they are using in this game. This is indicated in the top right corner of the screen. There aren’t any bosses or anything and you can’t die so there is no game over. If you do fail something, it just has you restart it. Simplicity at its best.
During the adventure mode as I mentioned, there are golden eggs and wanted posters to find. Also at the end of each story section, you are graded with a medal system, bronze, silver or gold. This is depending on how many coins/points you obtain. You obtain all of this by bad guys or coin collecting. I played once through and received silvers and bronzes, not sure what gold requires but I was playing like normal, so you must have to really try to get a gold. There are 9 golden eggs and 9 wanted posters to collect, although they are only in the 3 sword fighting levels as you have to kick the bad guy into them to get them. Coins and treasures full of coins as well as some eggs are marked with a glowing aura by them, and some eggs and posters are not so you do have to look for them.
Unfortunately, that is all there really is to story mode. I haven’t seen the movie or really watched a preview so I can’t tell you if this follows the movie or not. I believe it does but it may have been better if they did another extension like they did with Kung Fu Panda 2. After you complete adventure mode, you can replay any level you want in case you want to go for gold medals or missed an egg or poster. There is a meter that keeps track of your game completion, Blitz is aware we want to be able to complete games 100% of the way, so that is much appreciated. The map overview also shows you any eggs you missed and what medals you have, however you are on your own for wanted posters.
The challenge sections offers mini-game mayhem for 1-2 players. There are 5 mini-games but you have to unlock them by playing adventure mode. The 5th one I am unsure what unlocks it, it’s either a tag or getting all gold medals. The mini games are the following:
This is actually really easy, but yet really challenging. You have a target score to reach, the 1st round is 100 points. Your objective is to kick bad guys into traps marked with points. The traps range from 10 points to 100 points. Some of them are really challenging, as in one round, you have to bounce a bad guy off a cactus and have him bounce off another in order to get the 100 point trap. You have a limited number of kicks and fortunately the bad guys don’t attack, so you are more or less just trying to aim perfectly, luckily the system works perfectly. You can see in the video how I can manipulate my aim very slightly by just barely moving. It’s almost like I’m on a weighted floor or something and just pushing down on one side a little bit harder than the other. It is that accurate. It is quite a challenging mini-game though.
This one is somewhat easy. You just have to collect coins while the guy is throwing barrels at you. You can do a slide gesture to make Puss roll out-of-the-way. It’s a timed event so you just have to survive until the timer runs out.
This is probably the best one, it’s straight up sword fighting with traps. For every bandit you kill, you gain 4 seconds of time. The objective is to kill as many bandits as you can. I played this one the most out of them all, there’s just something about the sword fighting that is cool.
Shape It Up!
This is just a posing mini-game, objects are on like a conveyor belt and move along, you just have to match each one. Kind of easy, gets boring quick unfortunately.
As I mentioned, there is one more mini-game that is locked but I have no idea how to unlock it. I made a quick mini-game montage to give you an idea, this is basically what the whole game is like. Check it out below:
There’s not much for options, however if you or your child are left-handed, be sure to change this option or you/your child will be very frustrated. The other options are subtitles, audio and gamma.
The extras consist of Wanted Posters that you have collected, which show a little blurb about the character. There’s also a tags section which I have no idea what it is, but seems kind of cool. You have to scan your “tag” whatever its referring to and it unlocks more stuff in the game (probably the locked mini-game). I’m assuming the tag is something that comes in the game case, which I didn’t buy this so I don’t have. There is also a cartoon section in case the kiddos want to re-watch the cartoon again. The last extra is just the credits.
I wanted to mention the controls as it seems with each of these oddball Kinect games that aren’t as anticipated as others, the controls are getting better and better. Everything is very accurate in this one, moving around when sword fighting and leaning is just so precise it is amazing. The only very minor issue I had is I would keep trying to draw my sword before I was allowed to, so when it allowed me because I was already at the end of the gesture, it didn’t work all of the time. But detection goes as far as detecting specific body parts. If you notice in my mini game montage, when I’m playing the guitar, I go really slow and go really fast, let me remind you, this hand is in front of my stomach, and it’s totally detecting everything. My left hand moves up and down a little bit and it moves the guitar head up and down. Blitz has done a superb job and I think they’ve proven they can handle Kinect controls with this and Michael Phelps as well as their other titles, I know Blitz is working with what they are given, but can someone please give them a bigger/more popular game to develop? I know they would do great at it.
Overall, it’s a decent game for kids. For yourself, not so much. I’m not really sure of the replay value, but this one could turn into a dust collector, it just doesn’t seem there is enough to do and I didn’t see any hint of future expansion with DLC. A short campaign makes quick work of the title as well. One thing for certain is sword fighting is cool. Both my 7 and 12-year-old thought it was awesome and loved it, the other parts, not so much. I liked the sword fighting myself. If this is for your child, I would suggest waiting until the price drops unless they are an absolute Puss In Boots/Shrek addict. Also because we rated the game a 6, it doesn’t mean it’s awful and to stay away from it, 6 in our review is a slightly above average game. As I mentioned the controls are fantastic, it just needs to be longer and maybe a little more innovative, but that’s probably not the developers fault, it could be the movie itself. Blitz is good at making Kinect games so many kudos to them.
Hopefully we get something out of this experience though, maybe if someone comes up with the idea of combining sword fighting with a fighting game genre but as in-depth as current fighting games…maybe revive Samurai Shodown from the Neo Geo/Arcade days? That would probably be one sweet game as long as they choose the right developer(s).
This review is based on a retail copy of the Xbox 360 version of Puss In Boots
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