REVIEW – Doodle Jump for Kinect (XBLA)

Up, Up, and Away –

If you own a smart phone there is a good chance you have played Doodle Jump, an endless vertical jumper that is one of the most downloaded mobile games of all time. Now, Lima Sky has jumped from the gyroscopic mobile environment to take advantage of Microsoft’s full body control with Kinect.

It is most important to point out that Doodle Jump Kinect for XBLA is not a port of the mobile game.  In fact, several key gameplay elements have changed to better suit a home console environment.  The biggest change in this Kinect version is the level based gameplay as opposed to the “keep jumping vertically until you lose” endless element of the mobile version.  This drastically changes the entire presentation of the game.  Each stage can anywhere from 2-12 minutes to complete depending on skill level and there are ten levels in each world.  However, the Kinect motion controls, like most Kinect games, are not accurate and experience the dreaded one second delay; plus no one wants to play a Kinect session for more than three minutes at a time.  And unlike the mobile version, I was only able to tolerate playing through a few stages at time before I wanted to quit from boredom and frustration.  Doodle Jump mobile was great because you can quickly boot up the app, play for just a couple minutes to get your fix for the day, and move on with your life.  Playing Doodle Jump for Kinect is still best experienced in short bursts but it is just a lot more tedious, time consuming, and tiresome booting up the 360, logging in, waiting for the game to load, navigating the typical “hold your hand over the icon for 5 seconds to select,” and then tolerating the inaccurate motion controls that is Kinect. In summary, the developers did a good job bringing the Doodler to a console but it is still best played on a phone.

More difficult than it should be because of bad controls
More difficult than it should be because of bad controls

Your entire body is used to control the Doodler.  Side stepping determines lateral movement so living rooms with more space is desirable. It is also possible to move slightly by leaning to one side as well.  But the delay of the Kinect sensor results in more frustration than entertainment especially since platforming in this game requires a high amount of accuracy and timing. Navigating the menus would also be a lot easier if voice commands were use.  There is also no way to pause the action; the typical one arm up and one arm down pose doesn’t work here.

Besides being level based, this Kinect version also contains some new additions to better suit home console play.  Checkpoints make it more tolerable reaching the end goal, each stage has several optional collectables to increase high scores, and there are power-ups new to this Kinect version.  Raising one arm will shoot the Doodler’s patented snot rockets, a flapping arm motion causes the Doodler to fly when the wings power-up is grabbed, holding both arms up like Superman uses the jetpack, and even clapping ignites an EMP blast to disable canon fire. Each stage also features a level-ending bull’s-eye trampoline; the goal is to land the Doodler in the middle to reach maximum height for maximum points.  This is an interesting twist on the level-ending flagpole of the Mario series.  High scores are also uploaded to a Leaderboard and each stage has a possible 3-Stars to earn.  Earning a 3-Star rating, however, requires near flawless runs and only the most dedicated players will even attempt at earning them all. And new to Doodle Jump, boss battles cap off each world.  But since stages are unlocked sequentially, players are forced to play through many stages before this new boss content is reached.  These boss segments, however, are the most frustrating part of the game.

Earning 3 Stars will not happen often
Earning 3 Stars will not happen often

Even though the experience is far from flawless it is hard to knock Doodle Jump for Kinect too hard; it is only 400 MS Points ($5) after all. However, this is still about 4x-5x higher priced than its mobile counterpart.  Doodle Jump is even free on some platforms, but this could also be said about Fruit Ninja.  The new bells and whistles in this Kinect version definitely separates itself from the mobile games but putting up with frustrating Kinect controls is the biggest downfall.  It would have been nice if controller support was added or if a multiplayer mode was introduced but Doodle Jump Kinect will only appeal to dedicated Doodler fans or gamers looking to get something more out of their dust-collecting Kinect outside of voice commands or mindless minigames.

2/5

Not As Good As: the mobile versions

Also Try: the arcade version of Doodle Jump

Wait For It: controller support

By: Zachary Gasiorowski

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