Kinect Fun Labs: Mars Rover Landing Reviews

132,577 (84,790)
TA Score for this game: 53
Posted on 18 July 12 at 17:00
This review has 23 positive votes and 1 negative vote. Please log in to vote.
If you grew up like me, at one point or another you probably wanted to become an astronaut. Also, like me, you probably weren't diligent enough in school to make it, or you weren't lucky enough to be the 1 in 13.2 million people who are lucky enough to make it into the space program (yes, I looked that number up) Even though you've given up that dream there is still hope for you to feel like a part of the space program. That chance is given to you in the form of Kinect Fun Labs: Mars Rover Landing.

This is a free (at this moment) Game from Kinect Fun Labs. It is a very short game, maybe only taking 15 minutes to run it through from start to finish. It is a very good looking game for what it is though. They actually seem to have put a fair amount of time and effort into this free game.

As far as gameplay goes, i'm sure you could figure it out by the title, but this game is for Kinect use only. There are there stages to the game. Stage one is the rover's entry into the atmosphere of Mars. you must move your body left, right, forward and backward to keep the rover on track and to prevent it from burning up. Stage two requires you to raise your arms to correspond with certain points on screen to get through the breakaway period and deploy a parachute. Stage three is probably the toughest. This part makes you have to raise your arms to adjust the power of your thrusters to slow down your rate of decent and to try to land the rover safely within a target area.

All in all, I was very pleased with this game. It's a great offering for a free game, it could be good for getting children interested in space, and it's just difficult enough to offer a challenge. I would certainly recommend picking this up just for the fun of it. Besides, what harm can it do, it's free!

Cost- Did I mention it's free???

Completion Time- It takes about 15-20 minutes to play from start to finish

Achievements/Gamerscore- 8/50

Pros- Plenty, it's free, it's a quick game, looks good

Cons- You can't bitch about a free game
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94,659 (51,964)
TA Score for this game: 96
Posted on 04 July 13 at 16:50
This review has 8 positive votes and 0 negative votes. Please log in to vote.
Let me start by saying I think it's a fantastic little piece. It's a free release under the Kinect Fun Labs moniker, so it's limited to only 50G, but it has a good list of 8 achievements comparable to a full arcade title, and I believe it can be played as a standalone- though bear in mind it requires a Kinect throughout.

It's an accessible game for active players of any age. It's comprised of three sections which are essentially three minigames involving moving around a modest playspace and moving both arms. You'll find it easy enough to pull off a landing, offering you quick restarts of the section if you wreck (which is an easy mistake in the final section). Yet at the same time it's designed to challenge you, presenting a rating up to 5 stars for each stage and with the final total based on landing accuracy and structural integrity [~HP]. They also challenge you to land with 100% integrity for one achievement, which is no easy task.

Comparably there's an achievement for a 5 star landing (which may be easier)- but beyond the achievements, there's a further challenge in the three nice avatar awards (which are tracked in a neat post-game cumulative success screen), the highest of which asks you to get 5 star landing 5 times! Trying to achieve this really made me better appreciate the game.

Ultimately you need to nail the final stage, the landing- the preceding stage was to slow your descent, and the initial stage was a basis for accuracy and integrity. So every time you play you're invited to concentrate and give it your best astronaut-like-efforts for the brief six minutes or so it takes to play through (including cut scenes), in a simulation of the very tense minutes NASA themselves experience for the real landing. This shortness is, in my opinion, not a drawback but a positive. You can play through dozens of times and become familiar with the process, more skillful, and yet still feel fairly challenged each time due to the randomised nature.

After playing it so many times I'd say the Kinect controls are pretty decent in this game. The first stage can feel a little shaky, and I'm still not sure whether this was intentional or not, but you can learn to work with the turbulence. The arm controls of the second and third stages never disappointed me- my mistakes felt all my own.

One last thing to touch on, bonus features. As I said, there are some avatar award unlockables: a T-shirt, some trousers, and a helmet. Though they aren't hugely appealing, they serve to some as a second set of achievements- as already mentioned, the hardest one dares you to go further than a similar achievement, to "really" complete the game.

Meanwhile there are Bonus stories about the facts behind the real Curiosity Mars Rover landing, along with a video. While perhaps not as relevant now that the landing was a success (spoilers!), they're very well presented and accessible to general audiences. A nice touch, I'd say, showing how an official project can present their facts in an interesting yet optional and inobtrusive way.

I'd say that's representative of the product as a whole. It's based on a pretty specialist high-tech non-fiction, and by NASA- there's not much reason to suspect they would be any good at making games. But this is a good little Kinect game open to anybody, where you can get as much or as little as you'd like out of it. It's exceptionally well made, but it's still free.
What have you got to lose?
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