GET YOUR GAME ON: Motion controls get next-gen update in ‘Kinect Sports Rivals’

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First Posted: 5/6/2014

“Kinect Sports Rivals” is the follow-up to the Xbox 360’s “Kinect Sports.” The last generation version wasn’t really critically successful, but I really enjoyed the motion control gameplay. “Sports Rivals” takes advantage of the new generation’s Kinect 2.0, and with the power of the Xbox One, the controls and the graphics have never been better.

The original “Kinect Sports” was made to cash in on the popularity of motion control games like the Wii, so it was very similar to the huge smash hit “Wii Sports.” However, the Kinect doesn’t require a controller to play; for the first time, your body is the controller. The last generation version was a lot of fun to play, offering a great selection of sports mini games, such as volleyball, bowling, track, boxing, and soccer. The motion tracking wasn’t perfect, but it was pretty accurate and revolutionary for the time. My favorite thing about the original is it was a fun way to get up and moving; it isn’t the most strenuous exercise, but some of them where pretty tough, making me really work up a sweat. One of the biggest issues with the original Kinect was the amount of space you needed to play the game; I had to rearrange all of my furniture to play, and even then, games like volleyball made me accidentally whack my hand on the ceiling fan when spiking the ball. The new Kinect 2.0 requires less space and is a lot more accurate. This time, it can measure heat, heart rate/, and even your skeletal structure.

The first thing you do in the new “Kinect Sports Rivals” is create your character. The builder doesn’t give you that many options, but it does scan your face, making your avatar look incredibly realistic. You can then choose the clothing and accessories. After you make your character, you can choose between several different sports activities. The only returning activity is bowling; the rest are new, and they all are very different. Now you can enjoy wake racing, rock climbing, target shooting, soccer, and tennis.

The first activity I tried out was bowling, and it is what you’d expect. You can play some friends or alone against a computer opponent. The lanes are bright and flashy like cosmic bowling, and the motion control is pretty cool and considerably more accurate than its predecessor. The thing I really like is how it can react to subtle wrist movements, giving a realistic spin on the ball.

The next game I played was wake racing. This time you get to sit down, and you twist your right wrist forward to speed up and you tilt in your seat to lean and steer. You can race online or locally with a friend around some interesting courses that include speed upgrades and jumps that you can do tricks on. The next game is rock climbing, and the controls are pretty intuitive; you reach up and select the next rock you want to grab and pull your hand down to climb up. It sounds simple, but there are traps and obstacles that make things interesting.

The controls in the tennis game feel good and very nuanced; you can twist your wrist and land the ball wherever you want. However, playing with a friend is hard because of limited space, and having both players on the same side is confusing. The soccer game was interesting, but it doesn’t feel that deep. You can kick the ball down the screen, and if your opponent gets the ball, you have to jump in front of their kick to steal; it is pretty straightforward. The target shooting is the most basic; you just point your hand like a gun at the screen and shoot at targets.

There is a lot more to this game than the last iteration, including a story mode and a huge amount of clothing and accessories you can buy with in-game cash. There is also an online hub where you can compare your scores with people all around the world and even upload your game footage so the whole world can see.

When you are purchasing this game, you can log onto the store and download the demo of the wave racing. If you decide to play more, you can download each of the activities separately; you can download the whole game or even buy the retail disc-based version. If you liked the last version of “Kinect Sports,” you are going to really like “Sports Rivals” with it’s updated visuals, more accurate controls, story mode, and online gameplay.

“Kinect Sports Rivals” is not the reason for buying an Xbox One, but it is a good game to show off the power of the new Kinect. The controls are the most accurate I have seen in a motion control game, and the graphics are bright and beautiful. If you are looking for a fun way to get some exercise, then you should check this game out.

-Robbie Vanderveken is the digital operations specialist at The Times Leader. E-mail him at