Just like videogames, learning with a friend is often more fun than doing it alone. Thankfully the entire game, from main episodes to side tracks to minigames, allows both players to earn Achievements. As long as your partner is signed in, he or she will get credit for the non-minigame portions without needing to actually drop in or out. When a minigame comes up, the second player can choose to join in or sit out.
Playing the minigames along with a friend enhances the silliness quotient, but not necessarily the gameplay. Both players earn points for their actions, which then contribute to the total score and star rating. So far so good. But a second player doesn’t make things easier at all. It’s actually harder to reach the 3-star goal because two players have play flawlessly instead of just one. I eventually asked my partner to sit out because she was only holding me back.
Kinect Nat Geo TV also includes a Party mode for people who want to hop directly into the minigames without watching the episodes. You can’t pick which minigame to play; they just cycle endlessly. Party mode is a nice option, but I wish they’d provided a way to choose specific games or turn off the games you don’t like.
On the non-interactive side, Kinect Nat Geo TV provides one year of access to a host of 45-minute TV episodes. You’ll find more than 25 episodes broken down into a handful of categories like sharks and. These are legitimate television episodes and thus not aimed specifically at kids (unlike the main game’s interactive episodes), so I enjoy them a bit more. If you enjoy learning about animals, sharks, bugs, and whatnot, these certainly should hit the mark. The episodes, like the rest of the game’s menus, can be browsed with a controller or voice commands on top of motion controls – very nice.
Pictured: an actual Alabaman living room
As someone who very nearly became a teacher (even aced the certification exams, woot!), I love the idea of games that actually educate the player. Mixing in the fitness aspect and you have a winning concept. Still, Kinect Nat Geo TV drops the ball slightly in that area since the minigames produce more fatigue and less fun than most other Kinect titles I’ve played. The strict scoring also mars the game’s cooperative potential – we shouldn’t have to play alone in order to do well. Overall, Kinect Nat Geo TV is a good start for the Playful Learning concept, but future titles should focus on getting the gameplay up to the standards of the videos.
Like Kinect Sesame Street TV, this game is available via either a retail disc priced at $29.99 or a downloadable, episodic version for 2400 Microsoft Points in total. The disc is the better deal because it comes with full access to the downloadable game, which has separate and stackable Achievements. That means you can get 2000 GamerScore from a single purchase, assuming your arms don’t fall off somewhere along the way.
The Co-Optimus review of Kinect Nat Geo TV is based on the downloadable version of the game, which was provided by the publisher.
The Co-Op Experience: A second player can join in at any time during an episode or at the beginning of a minigame. During minigames, both players' scores contribute to the total score.
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.