With only a small selection of games arriving for the Kinect every release will be looked at ever more closely. The latest title to come under the microscope is Fantastic Pets, an interactive pet experience from THQ.
There are obvious comparisons to the recent Kinectimals and the EyePet with the main fact you can interact and and play games with your own virtual pets. This one though has its own approach, introducing even more fantastical pets for you to mess around with and giving you a deeper experience with your new found friends.
You play as a sibling of Dr Menagerie, who has been charged with looking after his assortment of pets. They are broken down into four main species, dogs, cats, ponies and lizards and with each one they have a range of personalities and looks, from a simple looking cute dog to a cat with wings and even dragons and unicorns, you are bound to find an animal that suits you. The in House AI will be your guide and will ask you to choose your first pet and take you through the basics of control and interaction with the help of another character called Avatar.
The main interaction hub projects your gaming space onto the screen with yourself in the middle so make sure you have enough space to move around. Your pet will then run around your room, with some pretty decent collision detection, running around your legs and other living room items and approaching the screen to add an extra dimension of cuteness. From here you can interact with your pet with a wide range of gestures and even simple speech commands which Avatar will occasionally pop up and show or just discover through trial and error, making them roll over, dance and jump to your commands; you know you have made the correct gesture as the orange streams that follow your arm movements turn green.
From the main hub you are able to go either clean your pet when they ask or go into the toy box to play a selection of mini games like bursting bubbles, throwing balls, smashing piñatas and entering the daily talent show. Each game involves some simple interactions like arm waving and running on the spot; the better you are, the more Gems you will earn (the games currency).
If the pets from initial selection were not strange enough, by earning Gems you are able to pay the Dr to travel to different continents around the world to find even more fantastic and exotic animals and new custom tools to try out. Each pet has its own personality which dictates how they play with you, plus their own looks, which you can customize, so if your cats look a little bland, add tigers feet, wings and a horn, change it colours and eyes and watch it fly around the screen all via a very easy to use menu system which shows the changes in real time with you moving your arms around to select and confirm. All of the animals look extremely cute and are well animated as they run around you, with their huge eyes begging for love and attention; you just can’t help playing with them.
Fantastic Pets is solely aimed at the younger audience with easy to follow on screen commands and it offers hours of energetic fun, gets the kids to move around the room and interact with items on the screen, plus they6 will also learn a little with an interactive encyclopaedia. It’s edutainment at its best.