Who would have ever guessed that Antonio Banderaz would be getting acting parts for his voice talent? What may have seemed like a sidekick character at first in the Shrek Series, mostly cause it was, the Puss in Boots character blew up in popularity. It is with little surprise that Hollywood and Dreamworks responded by giving the feisty feline his own film, and of course as with most children’s films, a movie tie in. Much like Kung-Fu Panda 2 and the Penguins of Madagascar, THQ opted to make a game centered on the Kinect’s controller free gaming, but here is the shocking part; it’s actually kind of good.
That’s right, I’m going to go ahead and give you a moment to clean up your computer monitor from the spit take you just did. Not only is this a movie tie-in game, it is a movie tie-in game for a children’s movie for the Kinect, and it is honestly, surprisingly, completely unexpectedly good.
The story of the Puss in Boots presumably follows the basic storyline of the film (honestly, I haven’t rushed out to see this one). Puss seeks to redeem himself in his hometown by obtaining some magic beans that he can than use to find enough treasure to make up for a robbery he unintentionally committed with his then friend Humpty (as in the egg that fell off a wall). Along the way he is reunited with Humpty who also has plans to steal the beans from the evil Jack and Jill to repay the town, or does he? Honestly, the story isn’t really important to the game, lets get to the fun stuff!
Combat in the game consist of two major motions. Sword fighting is done by waving your hand like you have a sword in it, very complicated stuff. This works very well and at no point in time did it feel like you were waving your arms around like a shocked Kermit while the Kinect saw nothing. The other half of combat involves kicking. Sword fighting fills your boot meter allowing you to then (literally) kick an enemy. Position yourself correctly in the fight and you can kick the enemy into one of the game’s many traps (ranging from wells, cliffs, cacti and Sideshow Bob’s most hated enemy, the rake). You get points for every bad guy defeated and bonus points for each new trap you kick one into. Additionally you can also build up a scratch attack, where you jump (again literally) and then scratch a foe like a catnip fiend looking for a square, and the occasional guitar “power up.” Kick an enemy into a guitar and you will then be able to use it, by lifting your hands and then strumming a song to completion. After you have them dancing a jib you can smack them upside the head with your guitar. Such sweet, beautiful music.
The rest of the game is a fairly typical platformer, and the controls are a lot of what we come to expect from a Kinect game. Jump to make Puss jump from one object to another, make like you are climbing a ladder to climb some vines, etc. There are a couple of levels where you must imitate an object while sneaking around (such as hiding behind a statue) and one level where you must get into a certain pose quickly to “finish” a dance move. Additionally, several times throughout the game you must “sneak” towards an object, stopping periodically when a watchmen or giant goose is paying attention. These moments play well, but really pale compared to the combat parts of the game (and not once was I able to get a “perfect sneak” in the game). If the entire game were like this it would be rather boring, thankfully combat is spaced throughout to a fair degree.
The game also features several challenge modes, which ultimately take on the various different parts of the game. Dodging barrels, making certain poses in time, timed combat sessions all for a high score characterize the challenge mode. The stand out challenge involves kicking enemies into traps that are all worth a certain amount of points to reach a certain score for that round in a set number of kicks. These challenges (that can be done in round based multiplayer) add some life to the game, which is good since ultimately the single player only takes about three hours to complete at most. Yes, it is short, but it also doesn’t manage to get old, so in this case less is more.
The game also looks great. Since so much of the game is essentially “on rails,” they are able to control what we see and therefore keep the visuals up to a certain level of quality; least it seems that way. Cartoon cut scenes sandwich the levels, and while interesting that they would take a 3D movie and game and then turn to 2D cut scenes for the narrative, it works. The film’s voice talents all make an appearance as well, and as such the quality of the voice acting is superb, as one might expect.
Ultimately Puss in Boots is a surprisingly well made, family friendly, movie tie-in game that is a lot of fun to play. The Kinect controls are almost always spot on (case and point, I remember there being a few issues, but can’t recall anything specific), and the combat gameplay is a blast; this is what the Kinect was made for. The length makes a full price purchase not recommended, but with the film hitting DVD recently price drops are guaranteed. Puss in Boots is definitely worth adding to your play list, and it is a great addition to the hit or miss Kinect library. It’s time to brush the dust off your Kinect, strap on your boots (and for the love of all that is good in this world, pants too!) and jump into the world of Puss in Boots.
Final Rating: 8/10
CBR Break Down:
Console Played On: Xbox 360
Time to completion: ~3 hours including challenges
Gamer Score Earned: 565/1000
Price Bought at: $15
Current Price: $30.69 (Amazon)
Recommend Purchase Price: Under $20.
Why you should buy it: One of the best Kinect games to date.
Why you shouldn’t buy it: You have a virtual allergy to virtual cats/animals in clothing frighten you.