Wreckateer Review – An Arm Flailing Blast

It’s that time of year again. The Xbox Live summer of arcade has kicked off and Microsoft has a slew of titles they’re releasing. Usually Microsoft tries to hold onto their biggest and best title for release around this time. However, this year they seem to be focused heavily on Kinect titles, which historically have been hit and miss. Arguably the biggest title of the lot is Wreckateer, having gotten a good amount of stage time at this year’s E3 Press Event. So how does Wreckateer stack up? I’ll walk you through it.

Audio & Visual
Being an XBLA game there are always going to be limitations in regards to what be accomplished from a technical standpoint, but Wreckateer still manages to look and sounds great. A very cartoony atmosphere and music to match set the stage for family friendly and carnival game type environment. The music isn’t especially memorable, so you’re unlikely to be stuck humming it for days after playing but it is enjoyable enough to keep you immersed in the game. You’ve also got some voice acting for the tutorials which is well done, but not too often, so it never gets annoying. Some family friendly humor as well, that is pretty tame, but also won’t make you cringe and might even earn a chuckle every now and then.

What really makes or breaks a Kinect game is how well the controls work. They can be really hit and miss, usually from developer to developer. Luckily, Wreckateer does a fine job where it matter. I qualify that statement because there are some control issues, but they aren’t with the game so much as they are with the menus. The menus are navigated in a manner similar to Dance Central, holding your arm to your side and moving it up and down to highlight items and then swiping across to select. Unfortunately it can be finicky at times and unless you’re selecting the top or bottom option, you might run into some issues every now and then.

However, where it counts, the game controls really well. The premise of the game seems simple enough. Launch bombs at a castle to destroy it, but in practice they went for something a bit more complex, and definitely more interesting. You manually pull back your ballista by grabbing it and pulling back the bomb, much like you’d expect. You aim by moving left and right, and lifting your arms up and down- All completely intuitive. When ready, you launch by releasing the ball by moving your arms out wide. From there, things get interesting.

You see, after the ball leaves the ballista, the real game begins. You have a variety of types of ammo, and you can control them all to varying degrees in flight. The simple ammo, you use your hands to tap it left and right, up and down to nudge it where you want to go. Then you have a flying form of ammo. This you control by raising your arms to open its wings, then you lean your arms left or right to turn in that direction, raise them to go up and lower them to dive. It controls really intuitively and accurately. You’ve also got a bomb you can detonate manually for timing perfect explosions or one that you can split into four smaller ones, whose spread you control by spreading your arms wide or tall or diagonal. Each one picks up your gestures perfectly and it’s easy to get them on target.

You unlock each type of bomb as the game progresses and there’s more to unlock than what I’ve mentioned, like badges to upgrade bombs in flight. Mulligans which are basically undo’s if you screw up a launch. Achievements of course, with Avatar item unlocks. There’s also local multiplayer as well.

The Verdict
This is the kind of simple family fun game you expect from Kinect and also great as a party game. Wreckateer controls perfectly for the most part and the variety in types of bombs, levels, challenges, and power ups make for a great experience. It’s really a game that would do great in a social setting when you have friends over. However, it’s still a game you’d very much enjoy playing yourself. I can easily see myself getting addicted to this, playing a level over and over for maximum destruction and points. Wreckateer is Kinect fun done right.

Score: 9/10

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