Not too long ago, Microsoft ceased production of the Kinect for Xbox One. Honestly, this didn’t go down one way or the other. In fact the reports of halted production lingered for merely a few days or so across social media and press outlets alike. Perhaps this was an expected move, seeing as though life for the Kinect was hardly what one would describe as thriving. If you ask me, the Kinect is a solid under-appreciated piece of hardware that bolsters the console that it’s tied to. Microsoft on the other hand seemed hell bent on back-burning it, despite their public opinion that they love the kit. Features that were exclusive to the Kinect moved over to the headset, commands that were exclusive to the Kinect moved over to the controller, and more importantly, game support for the Kinect is dying out. Inadvertently, by making the console more accessible, made the Kinect somewhat less appealing.
Mercifully we still have Virtual Air Guitar, a company that have promised to continue to develop for the Kinect for as long as fans continue to buy their games. That brings us to their latest release, Boom Ball 3 for Kinect. This developer has gifted Kinect fans with a wide range of interesting games, such as Air Guitar Warrior, Beatsplosion, and more. I personally stand by FRU as the best game for the Kinect, but that’s not to say that Virtual Air Guitar doesn’t produce some great experiences, because they do. Boom Ball 3 for Kinect is a refresh in comparison to what we’ve seen before. There’s some new and interesting features present, such as three new difficulty tiers that offer different gameplay speeds, and an improved two-player mode, but much of what’s on offer is more of the same.
Standing in front of your television, you’re tasked with firing and smacking balls into the 3D scenery in an attempt to destroy all of the blocks on-screen. These blocks collectively form different shapes such as cactus people, farm animals, an octopus, and other fun builds to break. The aim of the game is to swipe your hands left to right (much like Fruit Ninja) and avoid letting any balls get pass you. It’s a very simple and straight forward concept that doesn’t require much from the player other than a great deal of energy. Even the setup is fluid and trouble-free. Each stage is encased by barriers that can be used to aid you as you attempt to smack the balls to get to those hard to reach places. You’ll also be able to enjoy some game changing power-ups, such as homing balls and heavy balls.
Thanks to the improved motion tracking this version of Boom Ball is the best version yet, especially for its accuracy in its feedback. You no longer feel cheated by any stage simply because the Kinect failed to pick up your movements correctly, which can also be said for the local co-op experience. Shaking up the fields of play, these block forms wont remain static throughout each stage. Instead, they’ll come to life and start gallivanting around the screen in unique motions. This only gets more complex as you make it further into the game, and by the time you’re half way through, breaking these cubic critters gets much tougher. The core objective is to completely break each object in the fastest time possible, which is totally doable during the initial stages of play. It’s later in the game, as aforementioned, that this becomes a more dominant issue.
I cant wholeheartedly say that I was having as much fun two hours into the game as I was during the first thirty minutes. Trying for the best time is the core concept to keep in mind. The problem here is that that is literally the only goal that you will be pursuing. This isn’t at all an issue early on, but when you’re several stages through and you’re trying to break everything in sight, it can get equally as tiresome and frustrating, due to the spike in difficulty. The fun factor is slowly chased away by the annoyance of not being able to judge a ball-strike correctly due to some slightly wonky ball movement. This only gets more tedious when there’s a lot going on, and builds are flying across the screen in succession. On a lighter note, Boom Ball 3 for Kinect looks just as inviting as its predecessor title. There’s a good level of detail in each environment and to keep things from feeling repetitive, the locations remain diverse throughout. You’ll witness scenery such as a jungle, a farm, a desert and several other wacky and inventive places. It’s a game that can be enjoyed by players of all shapes and ages, and certainly one that’s best played with a buddy.
That being said, the soundtrack is painfully irritating. That’s a small gripe seeing as it can be muted, but something that stood out for me nevertheless. There’s a good portion of replay value to be found in Boom Ball 3 for Kinect, such as collecting stars to unlock new paddle skins. If you’re not happy with the collection of skins on offer, you can use the Kinect to take a picture of whatever you like, and then use that for a skin instead. It’s a nice addition and will no doubt go down well with the younger players. On top of that (and outside of the recently released party games for Xbox One) this is easily a game that will please the whole family throughout the festive holiday. It’s easy to understand, it’s easy to get the hang of, and just about anyone can join in. Boom Ball 3 for Kinect packs enough content to justify the price tag, but again, this is just more of what returning fans will have already witnessed. It goes without saying that newcomers will definitely get the most out of this experience.
Despite the few new interesting additions, Boom Ball 3 for Kinect feels more like an extension to its immediate predecessor. The soundtrack is annoying and the gameplay does become less fun and more irritating in the later stages of play. With that being said this does indeed provide the best Boom Ball experience to date, and packs enough content to keep you going for hours on end. It’s fun in small doses, it’s well designed, and the visuals are creative and colorful. If you have a Kinect connected, this is worth the investment.
This game was tested and reviewed on Xbox One. All of the opinions and insights here are subject to that version.