Thanksgiving has come and passed, and with it Black Friday- the biggest shopping day of the year. While their male counterparts are all tuckered out- nay, comatose – from a Turkey Day full of testing the limits of stomach elasticity, housewives take the opportunity to see how they stack up against their female counterparts in bloody battle royales. They rise at hours normally reserved for barflies and bushbabies, are armed only with fingernails manicured to a point for eye-gouging, and are driven by enough cappuccino to open their own Starbucks franchise. The spoils for the winner (or should I say survivor): the honor of possessing the newest toy or gadget before any of those other suckers that decided sleeping was more important than taking part in America’s version of the Running of the Bulls.
Producers capitalize on the perennial mayhem by rolling out new and improved lines of crap that most people either already have in some capacity or don’t need. Electronics and gadgets have won the day, most recently, and that trend seems to continue this year. Not to be outdone by competitors, Microsoft unveiled their newest attachment for their Xbox 360, the Kinect. Armed with 3 cameras and 4 microphones, Microsoft’s estimated $500 million ad campaign promises the consumer that “you are the controller” with the add-on.
Being both a sucker and a self-labelled “gamez0r”, I decided to see for myself whether the gadget was a the real deal, or if it would find its way to the Chinese garbage dump where all of our failed electronics go. Although I went to pick it up the Tuesday after Black Friday, I was still halfway hoping to have to scratch and claw my way into the local GameStop. Thus, I decided that I needed to pack some heat, so I threw a steak knife in my back pocket in case things got ugly. To my utmost chagrin, there were no rabid soccer moms in GameStop this day, but only zoned out college students hoping to score another copy of Call of Duty: Block Ops (their other copies had gone through the washing machine, or been peed on by the cat, or mistaken for a bagel and ruined both the game and an unsuspecting toaster). I was not completely put off by not running into danger, however, because I was able to secure Microsoft’s latest & greatest. Along with the hardware, Dance Central and Kinect Sports seemed the two most entertaining choices of games.
Upon arriving home, I felt like I was transported to 14 years and 3 weeks prior, a boy ripping the packaging open like on Christmas morning and haphazardly setting up my new toy. Several long moments of calibration proved to be more than a minor inconvenience, rearranging my furniture in a configuration that makes sense for nobody’s agenda but this diminutive toy that has come to rule my life. Finally, I was ready to play.
Popping in Kinect Sports, I was taken to a life that could have been, where I was the acrobatic soccer/ping-pong phenom Shepherdiño. On game point of the world ping-pong championships, however, I was left fuming because the machine decided to throw a backhand when I clearly threw a forehand. Having no controller to throw in order to express my frustrations, I sternly ejected the first game in favor of Dance Central, hoping that the Kinect could sense my anger by the expression on my face.
Dance Central satisfies two out of my three foremost guilty pleasures, so I anticipated that I would be a fan. After three songs and several layers of clothing shed out of necessity (I think I had soaked them through, at that point), I decided that Kinect is best played either with friends while enjoying a beverage, or in very brief increments.
Disclaimer: for anybody that saw Batman Forever, I acknowledge that the Xbox Kinect is eerily similar to the Riddler’s “Box” invention, which sucks people’s dreams and fears out of their minds while they watch television, turning them into lifeless drones. Let us hope for no similar news stories in the near future involving Bill “the Cryptic Inquirer” Gates.