There are some problems with the year's most useless video game peripheral, the Game Boat, I can explain with words, others I can depict in video. But there's one thing you'll just have to trust me on: it smells bad.
The box for the inflatable red Game Boat boasts such gaming-irrelevant features as the fact that you can sit it in it and use it on water. Unadvertised is the boat's powerful rubbery smell. It's the kind of smell you should leave outside or in the garage. But with nose pinched, perhaps I could find joy in utilizing this boat with the video game for which its box claims it is "ideal," Kinect Adventures?
The Game Boat is the first of a line of "Playon" accessories from a group called Atomic that dares tempt us to utilize Microsoft's new controller-free gaming sensor, the Kinect, with an inflatable raft. Forget that the whole Kinect marketing pitch is that it frees potential video game players from unnecessary encumbrances. The inflatable raft comes with a hand-pump and the promise that it'll be a nifty addition to Kinect Adventures. That Kinect game, it should be noted, includes a game mode that involves controlling a character who speeds down a river while standing on a red inflatable raft. Perfect, right?
The Game Boat user inflates the raft with lungs or the bundled pump — took me about 10 minutes for some reason — and then stands in the raft. The "floor" of the raft is thin and flat, ideal for standing. Conveniently, you play Kinect Adventures while standing, though the game also requires you to step to the left and right, which slides the raft to the left and right of the rapids as you zip along. In real life, you do you side-stepping in the Game Boat, though you only have about three feet of room to do so before you're bumping into the boat's edges. (Yes, it seems I needed a bigger game boat.
I've got video evidence of the Boat's non-odorous failings. Here I am adrift on the raft, trying to take advantage of some of those features they advertise on the box:
What We Liked
It looks like a boat. Probably floats like one too.
What We Didn't Like
It is unnecessary for playing Kinect Adventures and in fact makes it harder to play the game. The confines of the boat present problems, possibly the very problems that Microsoft was worried about when they clearly stated in their Kinect how-tos that you shouldn't play Kinect games with any obstructions near you. I bet they didn't even have "the edges of inflatable boats" in mind as a possible obstacle. I forgive them. Why should they have expected anyone to make a raft for one of their games?
Another quibble: An inflatable raft is one of the most useless objects one can keep near their gaming systems. What else could I use this thing for? Should I standing in my inflatable raft while petting a cute tiger cub in Kinectimals? Ridiculous. The Game Boat is useless in my apartment, though to be fair, I could sit in it and play Vanquish, Gears of War, God of War, Final Fantasy XIII, Super Meat Boy, Fluidity, Mass Effect 2, BioShock 2, Tilt To Live, Assassin's Creed Brotherhood, Infinity Blade, all of the games I ever owned for the Super Nintendo and just about any other game that could ever be played from a seated position. In other words, the Game Boat is actually more compatible — or at least less incompatible — with controller-based games than it is with Kinect Adventures, the game it is "ideal" for. But no, this is not a positive.
Here's one more negative, quoted from the official Game Boat product description: "Game Boat™ is de facto the first accessory for the peripheral which doesn't need any." The gamer who retains only the gaming products that are "needed" is the gamer who would own just about no games, but still.. the people selling this thing say it is not necessary. Let us all take the hint.
The Bottom Line
The Game Boat stinks and should sink. But at least we got a fun review video out of it.
The Game Boat was made by Atomic Accessories for the Xbox 360's Kinect and all rivers near you, released in late November. Retails for 34,99 €. A Game Boat was given to us by the publisher for reviewing purposes (Check their site for availability). Played the Game Boat with Kinect Adventures. Did not try the boat's advertised support for a second player because it seemed like we would have zero room to side-step-control the raft — and because I love my wife too much.