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The Best Exercise Games for the Xbox Kinect

Review of Junk Fu for Kinect (Xbox Live Marketplace)

Posted by steve on May - 19 - 2012 with 1 Comment

Junk Fu

Sometimes the best Xbox Fitness games don’t have to be the most expensive ones.

Junk Fu is a surprisingly good workout game that is fun, addictive, can provide a great workout, and at 240 Microsoft points costs less than a cup of coffee at Starbucks.

Rating by steve: 4.0 stars
****

 

junk fu downloadIt’s funny, but for months now I’ve been reviewing $50-60 Kinect games, hoping to find one that wasn’t bloated with hipster characters, excessively long cut scenes, and sluggish performance. Those have been few and far between. But my eyes have recently been opened to the wealth of great material available for download at the Xbox Marketplace (http://marketplace.xbox.com). It’s not just a place for add-ons and demos–there’s a huge number of small games that are simple and yet a ton of fun to play and a nice workout to boot.

As with all Xbox Marketplace games, my recommendation is to purchase an Xbox Points card from a retailer like Amazon first, and then enter your code in the Marketplace to build up a pool of Xbox Points you can purchase from.

The game I looked at today is Junk Fu. This is a game which started life as a conceptual game in the Kinect Fun Labs, but it’s evolved to  a fun game on its own, with a clever focus on fitness and diet.

The game is extremely simple. Pieces of household junk will go down a conveyor belt. You need to hit with your left hand to smash objects on the left side, hit with your right hand to smash objects on the right side, and kick to mash objects in the middle. You’ll be shown cues on how to hit, whether a top-to-bottom karate chop or a side-to-side slashing motion. A beat plays in the background so you can time your moves to the beat. The game just keeps going faster and faster until you get five strikes.

As you proceed through each level, the status bar on the side will tell you how many calories you’ve burned. When you fill up the bar you’ll be told how many calories you burned in terms of the equivalent of food you just burned off (e.g., a piece of candy, a cupcake, french fries, a cheeseburger). As a reward, you’ll be able to smash dozens of that food item at will to earn more points–I challenge you not to let out a Bruce Lee-type scream as you’re doing so. It’s a nice way to subconsciously burn into your mind that these foods aren’t your friends, but enemies to be beaten down!

Another nice thing about the game is that it’ll give you even more points if you make your motions with harder and more forceful strokes. In other words, while it’s certainly possible to play the game in a passive way, the more active you are the more you’ll be rewarded.

That’s pretty much the game. You just play over and over again until you’re exhausted or you miss five cues, whichever comes first. I won’t say the game has a ton of replay value, but there is some–you’ll want to come back to see if you can beat your last score, and it’s interesting to see what kinds of foods show up from level to level (somewhat like the anticipation of seeing what fruit came after the cherries in Pac-Man).

More importantly, it’s a nice diversion that you’ll love to pull out from time to time that gets your heart bumping and your arms moving. There no complex story, no annoying cut scenes, no gimmicks–you just start the game and start chopping way. And at 240 Microsoft points, that’s less than $3 for a game that’s a lot stronger on the exercise front than a lot of $60 ones.