- Players: 1-2
- Co-op: 2
- 80 KB to Save Game
- HDTV 720p/1080i/1080p
- Kinect Sensor Required
This holiday season it seems dance games have been hitting store shelves at a record pace. Titles like Just Dance 3, Dance Central 2, Everybody Dance and the Black Eyed Peas Experience are just a few dance games that come to mind. All them take full advantage of either the PlayStation Move or the Xbox 360 Kinect motion controls too. Sure they all have their own set of strengths and weaknesses; yet at the end of the day they get you moving and none of the aforementioned games have truly fallen flat. Just in time for Christmas, Majesco releases their Kinect enabled dance game for younger gamers entitled Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked. Much like other dance games, Chipwrecked follows the same formula but with an Alvin and the Chipmunks spin, and of course a steady diet of those high-pitched chipmunk vocals. How does it hold up compared to other dance games on the market? Well not too shabby, but I am warning all you adults who pick this one up for their kids, those chipmunk tunes will start to grate you after awhile.
As I just mentioned, Chipwrecked plays out like most other dance games on the market . It does not follow the same path so many other movie based games have followed. Yes, for those of you who are not aware, Chipwrecked is also at your local Cineplex as I write this review. Yet for those looking for a Chipmunk action advanture, Chipwrecked is anything but. I have become so accustomed to those movie tie-in games featuring a linear action adventure, so needless to say I was a little surprised when I discovered Chipwrecked was a dance game. Sure, Chipwrecked for the Kinect does feature a bare bones story that is inspired by the movie, but at its core Chipwrecked is truly all about dancing along with Alvin, Simon, Theodore and their female counterparts, The Chipettes.
For those of you who are new to Kinect dance games and have no idea how Chipwrecked works, it is essentially a dance rhythm game that utilizes the Xbox 360 Kinect motion peripheral to read your full body as you follow the chipmunks on-screen dancing away. Your ultimate goal is to mimic the moves of the chipmunks on the screen. Some of the moves can involve a simple side step or arm wave but others can involve much more complex moves involving upper and lower body motions. The flow of your movements are captured by the Xbox 360 Kinect sensor and are compared with those of the on-screen chipmunks to precisely evaluate your performance. The more points you earn, the more you can unlock goodies and trophies. That is Chipwrecked in a nutshell and at its core it is an enjoyable game for those who enjoy those high pitched fuzzy rodents. That being said, I had many issues with Chipwrecked which led me to conclude that a little more fine tuning would have been beneficial for the overall performance.
For starters, Chipwrecked’s single player story is not well told at all. The story is communicated through picture stills that surface after the completion of every 3 or 4 songs. Underneath the picture is the dialogue. Here the Chipmunks take turns bantering with each other. There is really no plot development and no real reason why any semblance of a story is being told in the first place. It almost appears as if the story in Chipwrecked for the Kinect is filler for a game that lacks in the depth department.
Before you launch into the game’s primary single player mode, you are required to answer a series of questions. From these questions, the game will choose which Chipmunk you closely resemble. Once your chipmunk is chosen the game launches into a series of songs. If you are unhappy with Chipmunk the game assigned you there is the ability for you to choose another one should you desire.
Another issue I had with the Chipwrecked occurs when you first fire it up. An identification process starts when the game first loads up into the main menu. You have to wave your right arm in order for the game to recognize you. Unfortunately, the game had a difficult time picking up the simple motion of waving. A few reboots of my Xbox 360 and some fiddling with the Kinect tuner never seemed to resolve the issue either. The game did eventually manage to pick up my motion; however, it still took some time every time I fired up the game and it seemed quite random as to when it would.
Once you get past that initial identification process, navigating the menus is very easy and very identical to Dance Central’s menu selection system. By holding your arm out to the side you can highlight menu items. The height of your hand will determine which item you have highlighted in the menu. Swiping your arm across your body horizontally selects your item. Selecting menu items works quite well and was incredibly responsive. It can be finicky for the little ones with less coordination but mature folks should have no problem navigating the game’s menus.
Much like other dance games, Chipwrecked features a scoring system. For every movement, the system evaluates your performance in terms of rhythm and quality of execution. With every move the game rates how accurate you are. At the end every song you are awarded up to five stars. This system is very much like other dance games out there as the stars indicate your overall performance during the course of the song. The gauge is located on the bottom left corner and displays how many stars you have earned.
Once I jumped into a song and started wiggling away, I was impressed at how responsive the game was to my body motions. Sure, every so often I would feel like I nailed a particular move only for the game to not recognize it. These instances however were not all that common. This being said, the dance moves never become too complex in Chipwrecked. In fact, the moves are almost too easy and the pace of the songs is much slower than what I have become accustomed to with other dance games. I found myself getting bored and barely working up a sweat. Even my 9-year old daughter was not impressed with the game’s dance routines. Needless to say, I was not impressed with the pace of the routines and the game just seemed to lack energy. I never found myself getting pumped-up or excited to jump into a routine as the game did little to get me motivated to dance along to those crazy chipmunks; however, that is not to say that the much younger kids who love those furry little critters won’t love the dancing in this game.
In terms of other modes, Chipwrecked includes a co-op mode where you and another friend can perform a song together. There is also a free play mode where you can jump into any song and just dance away. There are also some customization options where you can equip your chipmunk with hats, glasses and some various bling. Unfortunately, Chipwrecked has limited online functionality. In fact there is no online ability to dance with or against a friend, or stranger, outside of your own living room and over the World WideWeb. The lack of online modes in the game is quite a letdown.
Visually, Chipwrecked is not a bad looking game but it certainly isn’t a great looking one either. The Chipmunks themselves are certainly the highlight here, as they do look fantastic; not to mention they move really well and look identical to their big screen computer generated counterparts. Overall, the game is bright and colourful but the game’s presentation however is very basic. Other than the dance animations, Chipwrecked does not feature a great deal of other animation in the game. As I mentioned the story is told via picture stills. I also found that you do not get a great deal of variety in terms of the games backgrounds either. All in all, Chipwrecked is a game where a lot more could have been done in the visuals department to improve the overall experience.
In a dance rhythm based game the sound is arguably the most important aspect. For the most part Chipwrecked delivers in this department. If you are a fan of listening to Alvin and the gang singing away then you will love the tunes in the game. There are 30 songs in all. I found that some of the songs are kind of catchy, but after a few songs those chipmunk tunes do start to irritate you. What can I say, there is only so much high-pitched singing that I can handle.
Overall, Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked for the Kinect is on the lower end of the scale when it comes to quality dance games on the Kinect. There is no doubt however if you have some children who are big Chipmunk fans and they have the desire to dance and sing along with the Chipmunks, then Chipwrecked for the Kinect may be right up their alley. Otherwise, Chipwrecked is a game that is light on features and does not offer up an experience on par with other available dance games on the Kinect.