‘Doodle Jump For Kinect’ Review – High Jump Hijinks

For a game to make the jump from a portable device to home console there are many, many platforms to land on along the way. While porting over a game might be easy, retaining the essence of what makes it good is usually the hardest hurdle to clear. The latest game to try to make the massive leap from smartphones (Android, iOS, BlackBerry, etc) to a whole new world of consoles is the wildly successful “Doodle Jump.” With 100 million downloads across all of its previous platforms, it clearly has the high profile visibility that it needs to succeed in a new realm of competition, but can the simple and addictive gameplay of the original help it find success on the Xbox 360… as a Kinect game?

“Doodle Jump for Kinect” retains the same core gameplay that its small screen counterparts had, while adding in full-body motion controls to simulate the movements of the Doodler. The overall objective is still the same: safely get from the bottom of the level to the top as you guide the Doodler from the left to right as he jumps from platform to platform. As long as you avoid monsters, cannonballs, and breakaway rocks along the way, you’ll do just fine. In the Kinect version, players guide the Doodler left and right by stepping left or right, using their body as a replacement for their finger. This release includes three all-new, original worlds, allowing fans of the original game to have an entirely unique experience.

Getting into “Doodle Jump” isn’t that hard; all you need to do is step left or right to direct the Doodler as he ascends each level. While he reacts best to full body movements, the camera will pick up even the slightest leans, which allow players a higher level of precision – a necessity for picking up bonus coins and power-ups. In addition to jumping, players must also use their arms to shoot and initiate power-ups like wings (flapping your arms) and rocket boosters (arms above your head). As long as players don’t get too much into the habit of leaning, “Doodle Jump” is a rare Kinect game that can actually be played in a relatively confined space, without a ton of physical activity. Even the more challenging boss battles, which require more focus and attention, can be overcome with the motion controls… and a bit of practice practice.

To say this version of “Doodle Jump” brings something new to the table would be a bit of an exaggeration. Outside of the controls and the platform, the fundamentals of the game are essentially the same as the portable versions, which means that if you’ve already burned out on the original, this one might not be for you. That being said, this release doesn’t offer a ton of variety either. The three worlds offer some new visuals, and enemies, but the simplicity that makes the game great, is also what makes it redundant. The Doodler is always headed up, and all that really changes is the path that he takes.

Every iteration of “Doodle Jump” seems to serve as a weird metaphor for life, since the Doodler never really dies, he just gets set back a bit, and has to keep trying until he gets it right. The Kinect version retains these same sensibilities, and should appeal to anyone that has gotten addicted to “Doodle Jump” in the past, only this time, they have to get on their feet to play it.

There is a reason “Doodle Jump” has been downloaded over 100 million times – it’s simple, fun, and addictive, and most of that holds true for the Kinect version as well. Controlling the Doodler with your body keeps the player’s activity to a minimum, which, when it comes to Kinect, less tends to be better. The game may be a bit on the short side, but it’s priced right for its abbreviated experience, and you can always go back to try to earn three stars on every level (good luck with that). While an experience like this might be a bit easier with the precision of a game controller, “Doodle Jump” was never really intended to be a precise game. Finding simple and fun Kinect games isn’t always easy, but “Doodle Jump” seems to find the sweet spot for both.

Score: 4 out of 5

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