Dave Braben and Frontier Developments haven't quite gotten around to making a true Elite sequel yet. Instead, the legendary designer been leveraging his technical prowess into rendering the cuddliest, fuzziest, wuddliest kittens possible. As opposed to, you know, attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion.
Luckily, Kinecimals was pretty good. And so is its mobile version.
Much like the Xbox 360 original, Kinectimals allows you to choose, interact and play with a virtual big cat... without the hassle of cleaning up and the worrying possibility of it growing up and eating you for breakfast. Precise touchscreen controls turn your phone into a virtual window onto your cub - through which you can pet, clean, feed and otherwise with play with it.
The tactile joy of directly petting your cub or teaching them tricks is deeply satisfying, but you'll soon discover that the real meat is to be found in the minigames. Unfortunately the small selection of ball throwing or skipping competitions quickly become repetitive once you've gotten the hang of them, though you can optionally partake in some timed challenges for some stressful finger workouts.
Completing these challenges rewards you with money to spend on new toys, items and food - as well as experience that gradually unlocks new areas. There's none of the compelling exploration of the original game, but a few fun new challenges become available from time to time.
The augmented reality camera is by far my favourite feature. Simply take a snapshot, choose a pose and one of your cubs magically appears onto any backdrop. The impressive graphical fidelity makes for some seriously realistic pictures, which are saved to your phone's memory for subsequent emailing or SMS. Almost worth the price of admission by itself.
It's also possible to transfer progress between your mobile handset and Xbox 360 version of Kinectimals via the Kinect sensor. It's effortless, but ultimately fairly pointless.
Which is probably true of the app itself, to be honest. Without the RC Racing and exploration elements of the console version, Kinectimals is less of a game and more of a timewasting distraction; an engaging selection of minigames that never quite feel like a complete package. But a couple of quid, it's well worth picking up.
- Addictive fluff
- Great graphics
- Impressive AR and Xbox 360 link features
- A bit pointless
Summary: Kinectimals puts a cat in your phone... who will never tire, never grow hungry and always simulate loving you. Not bad for £2.29, especially when you factor in the lack of vet bills and worming tablets.
Developer: Frontier Developments
Price: £2.29 - Xbox Live Marketplace