Amongst a mess of poorly-constructed first-attempts at utilizing Kinect’s unique method of gaming control are the faint, body-gestured whisperings of what some may consider classifying as something along the lines of a fun game; or a purely intriguing one at the very least. Crossboard 7, the latest in an apparently long-running series of ‘xxxTREEEM!!!’ boarding games from Konami, is not one of them. It is the breed of launch game that leaves a distinctly negative impression in pretty much every possible way; the same type that inflicts a strong sense of buyer’s remorse a sharp ten minutes into the action.
Hackneyed art direction aside (of which there is plenty), it really is the actual playing of the game that pushes Crossboard 7 into total motion-controlled regression. As you can imagine, the act of boarding down snowy mountains and winding riverbeds is something that seems like an easy equation for Kinect, but it’s been executed so poorly here that it almost seems amazing that it doesn’t work better just by random chance. For all the efforts of physicality the Kinect camera eerily watches you perform, very little that the game wants to see done fails to properly work on-screen.
Turning feels incredibly sluggish and begins to feel less natural with each new elaborately contorted twist and bend. Simple processes like jumping off ramps work well enough, but when asked to perform mid-air tricks by raising one foot with the other remaining firmly positioned on the floor, any semblance of direct control becomes non-existent.
Spinning your entire body around like some sort of sugar-rushed seven-year-old soon becomes a tactic best left undone for fear of crippling nausea. Think about it: here’s a game that will ask you to consecutively spin around on the spot as a means to a successful, game-progressing end. It really is as ridiculous as it sounds.
Speaking of dizzy kids, it’s pretty clear that Crossboard 7 is aimed for a younger crowd. Sceptical thinking aside, maybe there’s some ironic value in a game that encourages excitable children to aimlessly jump and spin around like laboratory-escaping monkeys. Either way, one can only hope that today’s youth can identify just how incredibly lame the ‘attitude’ (a truly fitting word) of this game really is. Bearing witness to the tutorial voice whine on with a quintessential surfer-dude accent induces a gun-to-temple level of cringe at almost every instance of stereotyped dialogue. It’s reminiscent of early-era PlayStation stretches of bad.
Though, when all is said and done, it is Crossboard 7’s technical indecisions that hurt it the most. Its intent is hardly original, but it’s also hard to imagine there’s not an even slightly better implementation of fake virtual boarding on the horizon for the motion platform sooner or later. The one thing it does do pretty well is menu navigation, which feels fairly slick by comparison to most Kinect launch games. I hope you’re not buying games for cool menus, though; otherwise there is a much bigger problem at stake than an advent of shoddy motion-required snowboarding games.
From its tired mid-1990s ‘cool kid’ chic and offensively putrid design; to the slipshod quality of control that consistently fails to map proper movements into the game’s on-screen action, it’s fair to say that Crossboard 7 is not the ’system seller’ show-piece for Microsoft’s intensively technical Kinect hardware, but more of a case study for developers to learn exactly what not to do with it.
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