Podracing, the game’s sole non-co-op mode, offers a shorter campaign than Jedi Destiny, with only six races to its duration. The actual story is pretty cool – it takes place 10 years after The Phantom Menace. You get to race for Watto, the flying ball of poop from the film, and contend with various gangsters, including the ever-cheating Sebulba. This particular campaign is only single player, but you can choose Quick Play to race against a friend.
Now, I’m of the mind that the podracing sequence in the first prequel was entirely unnecessary (check out Plinkett’s review to learn why), but podracing has always been great for videogames. Here, the controls work a bit differently than Kinect Joyride and the driving levels in Kinect Rush. You still keep both hands out in front of your body, but pulling your right hand back turns right and pulling your left hand back turns left – like holding a dual joystick. Pull both hands close and then push them out to use a boost. The pod also holds two powerups like attack droids and repair droids that you select between races. During the race, raise either hand straight up to activate its item. Pushing both hands to either side will bump enemy pods anyway. Kinect podracing is a breezy, enjoyable experience; I’m glad it’s not shoehorned into Jedi Destiny’s plot as it was in The Phantom Menace.
Getting back to the co-op, we have Rancor Rampage. As the title suggests, this mode was clearly inspired by co-op classic Rampage. You both play as Rancors-on-the-loose, destroying as many buildings, vehicles, droids, and people as possible until time runs out. Side objectives like landing on three people or charging into a droid pop up at the bottom; complete them to earn more points. Functioning as both score and experience, points unlock new locations, bonuses, and Rancors to play with. Rancor Rampage is fairly simplistic, but who doesn't love stomping around like a monster for a bit? Bystanders should get some laughs as well.
Next I’ll cover Duels of Fate, which is technically Kinect Star Wars’ fifth mode. It’s simply a series of lightsaber duels against a single opponent, for one or two players. There are five duels to unlock and choose from, culminating with Darth Vader himself. Lightsaber duels in this game alternate between two phases: defense and offense. Defending isn’t so bad – you just watch the opponent to see which direction he’ll strike from and move your hand to defend. Block enough and you clash sabers, shaking your first to push the enemy back. Only then are you allowed to attack, and only until a timer runs out. The whole process of defend-attack-defend-attack just goes on way too long – I’d like it much better if the enemy went down after a single flurry of blows. Dueling is the simplest and most undercooked game type.
Last but in no way least is Galactic Dance Off. Kinect Star Wars’ most controversial inclusion, dancing works just like Dance Central – in space! You can choose from 15-ish songs, all of which are covers of modern hits but with Star Wars-ified lyrics. ‘Hollaback Girl’ becomes ‘Hologram Girl,’ ‘Genie in a Bottle’ is ‘Princess in a Battle,’ etcetera. The dance moves all have Star Wars names as well, and each background is a genuine original series location. Both players get to choose a character ahead of time, but oddly the character only shows up before and after each song. The on-screen dancers start out as Twi’leks, but eventually you get to dance along with Princess Leia, Han Solo, and other major characters.
In case the preceding paragraph (and YouTube videos like the one above) didn’t clue you in, Galactic Dance battle is extremely silly – purposefully so! Some fans take their Star Wars too seriously and view Han Solo a-dancing as sacrilege. To them, I say that Star Wars has been silly ever since The Phantom Menace stunk up theaters and crushed moviegoers’ hopes and dreams. But even before that, a certain Star Wars Christmas Special made light with the original trilogy’s characters. Listen, nothing will ever change the films themselves, but that doesn’t mean we can’t laugh at a separate entity putting the characters in silly situations. It worked with Robot Chicken Star Wars and it works here too, if you let it. Besides, Galactic Dance Off is a great way to get your less-science-fiction-minded significant other to play along. My girlfriend loves a good dance game, and she laughed at the cheesy Star Wars covers just as much as me.
Kinect Star Wars is designed as a way to let kids and the young at heart act out their Star Wars fantasies in videogame form - plus they get exercise while doing it. If you don’t like Kinect controls or find the idea of C3PO and friends dancing around offensive, this is definitely not your game. But for everyone else, the variety of content, excellent production values, and authenticity of the Jedi Destiny and Podracing campaigns certainly make Kinect Star Wars a game worth playing. The light-hearted Rancor Rampage and Galactic Battle modes also make it a fun party game in Star Wars dressing… I never thought I’d see such a thing, but I’m glad it’s here.
The Co-Op Experience: Go on a Star Wars adventure together in Jedi Destiny mode, lock lightsabers with opponents in Duels of Fate, smash buildings and droids in Rancor Rampage, and dance along with classic Star Wars characters in the goofy Galactic Dance mode. The second player gets a split-screen in all but Galactic Dance. Each of these modes supports drop-in, drop-out play.
Co-Optimus game reviews focus on the cooperative experience of a game, our final score graphic represents this experience along with an average score for the game overall. For an explanation of our scores please check our Review Score Explanation Guide.