If there’s one developer gamers love to love, it’s Double Fine. Their reputation for cleverness, humor, and making irrefutably fun games is well-justified. Last year’s Happy Action Theater wasn’t exactly a traditional game, but that’s one reason why it succeeded with the Kinect’s non-traditional controls. Less than a year after the first installment, Double Fine returns with the more understandably titled Kinect Party. We can safely assume that just about every Kinect owner grabbed it for free over the holidays, so the question becomes: does Kinect Party provide a better co-op experience and improve on its predecessor’s handful of shortcomings?
First, let’s establish what Kinect Party is: a collection of motion-controlled minigames and visualizers, each of which we refer to as a channel. This sequel contains the entire game of Happy Action Theater (HAT as I’ll now call it), unaltered except for access to new photo sharing features. On top of that, Kinect Party offers just as many new channels as old ones – combined, the full package contains 35 channels in all. These channels can be purchased individually or in packages; check this article for pricing info.
Like the first game, channels automatically play in sequence – they might last from 30 seconds to a couple of minutes when played this way. Aptly named, humorous 'Shorts' (like the one pictured above) also pop up between every few channels. If your co-op crew/house guests want to stay on a proper channel for longer than its normal duration, just use the new voice commands or press A on a controller to “pause” the channel and keep it running indefinitely. Players can also access the channels of their choosing via voice or the controller menu, which sadly remains as clunky as last year’s.
My previous wish of customizable playlists didn’t make the cut, but one important feature did: photo sharing! At any time during gameplay, press the X button or use your voice to take a picture of the action. Pictures can be immediately shared to Facebook – the only way to keep them permanently. Or hop over to the editing room and add some silly borders first, though again with the clunkiest of interfaces. At least half the fun of Kinect Party comes from looking silly in front of your friends and vice versa, so the ability to share the shenanigans in picture form adds real value to the package – and this review!