Kinect Nat Geo TV is a difficult game to describe. It’s not exactly a video game nor is it a TV show. It more like an interactive experience where you use your body, gestures, and voice to learn, engage and immerse yourself in a TV show. Sure, most of the time is spent watching Casey Anderson, host of National Geographic America the Wild, as he takes you to various animal habitats around the world. Yet Kinect Nat Geo TV is one of the more unique experiences for the Kinect in that it blends a typical television show with some pretty swift interactions that let kids get involved with the TV show while actually learning a few things along the way. It is best to approach this experience as an educational one as otherwise I just felt like school was in session from beginning to end.
As a package, Kinect Nat Geo TV will cost you around 30 bucks, which gets you eight episodes in total. Casey Anderson hosts each episode and is a likeable fellow as far as TV hosts are concerned. His passion for wildlife and animals certainly comes through from the moment you fire up the first of two included disks. He is also an endless resource of knowledge when it comes to animals, as some of the facts he spews are very impressive to say the least. Much of my time spent with Kinect Nat Geo TV involves watching Casey, along with stunning high definition video of the many bears, tigers and other wild life he encounters. Here rests my biggest concern with Kinect Nat Geo TV. Given that the Kinect is part of the whole Nat Geo TV experience, I found that is, along with the gaming aspect of it, takes a backseat to the TV show. Let me explain.
From time to time, the TV show will come to halt cueing you to do something with your body or voice. Using the Kinect’s features, you may have to yell out “snapshot” in order to take a couple of pictures of a bear or you will have to yell out “tracks” when you spot some bear tracks on screen. There are other times where you will have to raise your left or your right hand in order to select which direction Casey should travel in order to track down his beloved bear. In many of the interactive sequences you play the part of a living animal. For example, as a bear you will scratch away at some virtual rocks or rock your head back and forth as you attempt to eat some virtual moths. The theme of each of these mini games is survival and doing what the wild animals would do in order to live.
There is a point system that goes along with the included mini games as well. Yes, the interactive moments are mini-games that you play during this “educational” experience. For instance, the more moths you eat, or the more fruit you shake from a tree, the more points you get. It gives the mini-games a bit of replay value but I hardly doubt you will go back and watch a 30-40 minute episode just to get back to playing one of these mini-games.
All the motion sensor sequences work as they should and I was impressed with how accurately the Kinect captured my movements. The only problem here is that these instances are far and few between. Frankly I found myself bored to tears at the best of times. I don’t know what it is but I just found Casey’s voice made me sleepy. Unless you are an animal enthusiast, and absolutely love watching animal shows, then I really struggle to see how any Xbox 360 owner with a Kinect will really enjoy Kinect Nat Geo TV. As far as games go this one is a snoozer, but that being said, I am not going to deny the scholastic side of things.
Even during those sequences where you actually have to get up and do something, the challenge is simply not there. The games are designed for the youngest of gamers but even the youngest of gamers should no have a problem with them; this meaning they are way to simple and way to easy. Sure it is very educational, but as far as “fun” is concerned Kinect Nat Geo TV fails to deliver.
The visuals are a mixed bag. On one hand the high definition National Geographic footage looks fantastic. Seeing all the real life animals in such HD glory really shows they put some effort in this area. Unfortunately the same cannot be said when the game shifts gears and computer animations appear. The visuals are almost laughable and scream budget game. The virtual bear just looks awful. Likewise, other animations look dated and seem like they were thrown together over a weekend. I just wasn’t all that impressed with the animations at all. And much like the visuals, the sounds in the game left no lasting impressions and are nothing spectacular.
Overall, Kinect Nat Geo TV is game best left for the bargain bins. Unless you are an animal nut who loves spending a heck of a lot of time watching the National Geographic channel, or you really want your kid to learn about all of mother nature’s creatures out there, then Kinect Nat Geo TV is really not for you. I can give it a point or two for the educational value, but as something that is supposed to be fun the interactive sequences are only mildly entertaining and the episodes themselves will have your eyelids getting heavy in no time flat.