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XBox-One-Kinect-Sensor-Front-LargeIf you’re looking to buy an Xbox One, you’ve got two choices: with Kinect or without. Buying the system without Kinect knocks $100 off the price, but if you’ve got a family you’re going to miss out on some of the best gaming experiences to share together.

While most other gaming websites downplay the pros of Kinect, I believe it’s worth the investment just for the games that already support it. Plus there are a number of games planned for next year. These include big releases like EA SPORTS Rory McIlroy PGA TOUR, and a number of smaller indie game releases like Crabitron KinectCommander Cherry’s Puzzled Journey and Nevermind.

The Wii was the first console to make motion gaming a reality. Now the Wii U and even the PlayStation 4 have motion gaming capabilities. But both of those require a special controller. With Kinect, you don’t need a controller at all, which makes it ideal for kids or adults who find recent game controllers a bit daunting. And every game designed specifically for Kinect has family gaming or fitness at the center of the experience.

Games Specifically for Kinect

Photos via Pixelkin
Photos via Pixelkin

My personal favorite game for Kinect is Disney Fantasia: Music Evolved. I gush about this game to anyone who asks about it. Though it looks pretty weird and there’s a bit of a learning curve, once you’ve got the gameplay down it’s probably the most natural-feeling and fun experience you could ask for. It pairs arm motions with music to make you feel like a composer. Like many other Kinect games, this game lets two people play at once, making it a perfect opportunity for family bonding. It can also be a bit of a workout with some of the faster paced songs, so it’s a win-win.

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Another Kinect music game that can turn into a workout is Dance Central Spotlight. This game features dances that use your entire body. The dances are put together by professional choreographers, which means each song is unique. There were a number of Dance Central games available for the Xbox 360, but Dance Central Spotlight is different. Rather than a slate of 20 or so songs for $60, Dance Central Spotlight gives you 10 songs for $10. Then you can purchase additional songs for $2 a piece. This gives you the opportunity to tailor the music in the game to your liking. Two people can dance at the same time, and it can be amusing to watch your friends or family members try to pull off some of the more complicated dance moves. Even if you’re dancing by yourself, the game makes for a great workout. The faster paced songs can really get your heart rate up.

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Kinect Sports Rivals is perhaps the most popular game for Kinect. With movements based on real sports, the game is easy for everyone to play. Six different sports are featured. Some are familiar, like soccer and tennis. Some are more nontraditional like mountain climbing and wake racing. Since these sports are all about competition, they’re perfect for two people to play at once.

Games That Use Kinect

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My personal favorite for a game that doesn’t require a Kinect—but has options to use it—is Zoo Tycoon. Playing the game with my daughter has been some of the most fun I’ve had with any game in recent months. I used to just follow her directions with me manning the controller. Now that she’s a little bit older (and has grown a couple of inches) she can actually interact with the animals herself. Feeding elephants and giraffes was one of her favorite things to watch in the game. Now that she can do the motions by herself, she has even more fun with it. Her smiles while playing with the tigers are priceless.

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But Zoo Tycoon isn’t the only game that makes use of Kinect. Believe or not, you can also use Kinect in Project Spark. Since Project Spark is all about creating your own games, Kinect can capture your actions and voice to use in your creations.

Just-Dance-2015-Miley

Just Dance 2014 and Just Dance 2015 are also games that use Kinect. Even though the Just Dance games appear on other consoles, using Kinect makes for a more authentic dance experience than the other versions. Just Dance also features karaoke and the ability to recognize up to six people on the screen at one time.

Kinect for Fitness

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Even for people who don’t play games, Kinect can be a great tool. Xbox Fitness is a robust collection of workouts from famous trainers. But rather than just watching a workout from a DVD, you can use Xbox Fitness workouts to track your body and even your heart rate. You get the kind of instant feedback you get from a personal trainer at the gym. You can also see a silhouette of yourself on the screen, making it easy to see exactly which body parts you need to adjust and whether you’re doing the moves correctly. Xbox Fitness includes variety of workouts to choose from. Traditional workouts, Yoga, and Zumba are all available. I’ve tried a few of the workouts and found the immediate feedback a great way to see where I was slouching and correct myself, even if it meant I was working harder than I wanted to.

Kinect For General Use

kinect-commands

Besides the other features, Kinect also enables you to control your console with your voice. Simply by saying “Xbox” you can navigate through the games and apps, send messages to other players, and record snippets of gameplay to upload and share. There are a lot of negative comments about the functionality of the voice commands in practice, but they’ve always worked for me. It’s very handy to quickly pause a TV show when your potty-training toddler says she has to go to the bathroom.

All in all Kinect has been a great addition to my Xbox One. Even if I had only Fantasia and Zoo Tycoon, the enjoyment for me—and, more importantly, my daughter—is well worth the extra $100.

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