EyeToy Kenetic Review

PlayStation 2

September 16, 2005 by

EyeToy Kenetic Image

Sonys innovative EyeToy camera technology has certainly provided unique way of playing games. The thought of using your very own body as a versatile controller is certainly a significantly more attractive alternative than the traditional hand-held controller. Its somewhat surprising, really, when the industry veteran Nintendo holds the spotlight for being the most innovative company in the industry. However, it seems that fellow Japanese company Sony has quite a few interesting tricks hidden up their sleeves, with the EyeToy being their killer app for the Playstation 2.

Since the release of the EyeToy camera some time ago, Sony Computer Entertainment has delivered gamers a number of titles that have utilized the EyeToy technology. While some of these titles were mere enjoyments for a few short minutes, other titles have offered a nice mixture of pick-up-and-play ease with some solid multiplayer lifetime that ensured they will remain a popular pick for whenever a group of friends are around. Until recently, the EyeToy camera has virtually been a multiplayer-only device, with each of the titles available for it lacking any real depth for a single player. That is, until Sony and Nike Motionworks teamed up to deliver EyeToy: Kinetic; a surprisingly effective all-body workout that is a perfect alternative for those who do not wish to venture to the local gym.

EyeToy: Kinetic is presented in a similar fashion to other EyeToy titles that have graced the Playstation 2. To play the game, you are simply required to follow simpl instructions that are demonstrated by an on-screen instructor. Once you have understood how to perform the task, you are simply required to move your body appropriately to achieve the desired goal. While the game is easy to understand, some of the fitness components involved can prove to be surprisingly challenging.

Kinetic is split into two different game modes: Routine Builder and Personal Trainer. Routine Builder allows you to quickly create your own routine, adding your desired activities to a list that can be saved to your memory card for retrieval at a later time.
The Personal Trainer mode is the key attraction for Kinetic, offering a more complex and rewarding program that creates a full training regime that aims to perform a complete all-body workout. Upon beginning the Personal Trainer mode, you are required to answer a few questions about yourself, such as the regularity of your physical activity, your weight and your height. You are also given the choice between two different training instructors, either a male or female. Once these answers have been completed, the game will automatically generate a training schedule that best suits your capabilities.

While your trainer does inform you of how to participate in each activity, youll soon discover that your trainer serves as a helpful resource for words of encouragement or harsh words of warning whenever necessary. Missing a day or two of training, for example, will often result with the trainer sternly telling you that you need to stick to your training schedule upon booting up the game, while managing to score an A+ for a particular activity will yield positive remarks from your watchful trainer.

The surprising depth of Kinetic is further displayed with the large range of helpful information that is provided both during and after completing an activity. With each successive level that you complete in an activity, for example, you will be informed of how many calories you have supposedly burned based off of your movement patterns. Furthermore, upon completion of the task, you will be offered the opportunity to check your pulse to determine how you are handling the activities. If your pulse if too low or too high, you will be recommended to change your difficulty level accordingly. The end result is that Kinetic is significantly more resourceful and effective than virtually any training video that has appeared on retailers shelves, making it the next best thing besides attending a gym to obtain a successful full body workout.

Kinetic divides its activities into four different sections: the Cardio Zone, Combat Zone, Toning Zone and Mind and Body Zone. Each of the zones aim to achieve different levels of fitness. The Cardio Zone, for example, is filled with quick-moving games that require you to continuously and quickly move for a set period of time, which can range anywhere from three to ten minutes in duration. The six activities contained within the Cardio Zone includes:
Cascade, which involves hitting balls that flow down the screen. Hitting the blue balls will yield points, while hitting the red balls will penalize you of points.
Pulsate: Pulsate is a rhythm-based game that requires you to hit the pulsating orbs in either side of the screen. As the orbs are only visible for a short period of time, this activity can become quite strenuous when playing for ten minutes straight.
Ricochet: This evasive game requires you to avoid touching a fast-moving bouncing ball while touching blue orbs that are randomly generated around the screen.
Arcburst: This activity is one of the slowest-moving of all Cardio activities, requiring you to sweep your arms over a series of orbs in the direction as indicated.
Wildfire: Wildfire is one of the most comblex Cardio activities, requiring you to correctly time your movements to only come into contact with the growing number of orbs that flow around the screen when they are in the neutral status. Touching them at any other time will deprive you of points.
Backlash: Backlash is potentially one of the most intensive of all Cardio workouts, requiring you to move both hands and both legs repeatedly to prevent four paddles, with two paddles on either side of the screen, from coming into contact with the central circle. The only way to effective achieve this is to hit each paddle with force to lock them into position until the next round begins.
Trespass: This activity requires you to prevent orbs, which fly in from the bottom of the screen, from being sucked out through a vortex that is situated in the center of the screen. To achieve this, you need to hit each orb with force to knock them out of the screen, all the while avoiding red orbs that fly across the screen.
Breakspeed: A force-based activity that requires you to repeatedly hit bunches of blocks on either side of you with force to break them.
Reflex: Tests your reflex skills by throwing large balls on either side of the screen and requiring you to hit each ball quickly and with force.
Protector: As the name suggests, this activity involves protecting a large orb that floats around the screen from being hit by small incoming orbs. Allowing the orbs or you body to touch the large floating orb will reduce your score.
Sidewinder: Similar to Protector, Sidewinder involves protecting a central target from being touched by small attacking orbs.

The Toning activities essentially consists of body-toning activities to tone specific parts of the body, including the abdominal, upper body and lower body. Conventional exercises, such as sit-ups, make an appearance in the toning activities.

Finally, the last form of exercises is the relaxing, slow-moving exercises of the Mind and Body class. These consist of peaceful activities such as yoga, tai chi and meditation, providing a welcomed change to the intense movements that are found in the other modes.

Kinetics limited graphics, which largely appear during the warm-up stages that are optional prior to the beginning of your routine, offer some smooth visuals that truly complement the warm-up experience. Some five detailed backdrops offer a relaxing choice for which your instructor will inform you of how to perform your warm-up stretches. A variety of different soundtracks complement the games appropriate visuals.

Its certainly pleasing to see a more practical use of the EyeToy technology being used. While we entered the game in a somewhat skeptical manner, doubting that the game would actually offer a challenging workout, we have left with a positive experience and a slightly improved athletic ability. Those searching for an enjoyable exercise alternative to the usual gym attendance or jog around the block will likely find that EyeToy: Kinetic is a worthy purchase.

Disclosure: We are provided copies of games from the game companies for some games that we review.