'Dragon Ball Z Kinect' is a creative spin on the gesture-based fighter

Dragon Ball Z Kinect makes excellent use of the motion-based controls.

A couple months back we laughed at the idea of a Dragon Ball Z game for the Xbox 360 Kinect. Previous DBZ games - based on the anime of the same name - were all about simultaneously mashing every button at once in hopes of landing a hit. But by making the move to motion-based controls, Dragon Ball Z Kinect turns out to be a rather creative and physically demanding brawler.

Players select from a roster of series' characters and jump into first-person POV battles against their chosen opponent. Fights move fluidly and there are a slew of move options that can be executed at will, including kicks, punches, blocks, evasion moves, and energy blasts triggered by extending your arms with palms out. The fight is over when one of the opponents' health bars is whittled down to zero.

Each character has two unique special attacks. Our character - a tall green alien named Piccolo - could charge up for about half a minute before unleashing all his energy at once. Charging required placing one finger on our foreheads and waiting, and waiting, for a chance to attack. Once the energy bar on the side of the screen filled up, we had to punch the air to unleash it. Each segment of the attack had to be carefully timed, and a botched execution resulted in us having to recharge.

Opponents moved constantly around the screen, so it was important to move forward, backward, turn, and evade while considering the next moves. If the chance arose to execute a situation-specific move - our opponent, Vegeta, got a little too close and we stunned him with a fireball - the screen would flash a prompt. Ours was to land a kick then a punch, knocking out a significant portion of the enemy's health.

Successful fights require a high level of physical exertion and we're not ashamed to admit we were breathing a little heavily by the end of the demo. It may not have been as impressive as completing a difficult mode in Dance Central, but developer Spike ChunSoft has done an excellent job creating a gesture-controlled fighter that doesn't fall into repetition and tedium. Fans of the series will love stepping in the shoes of their favorites characters and executing attacks like the "Kamehameha." Even if you're not a Dragon Ball fan, there is something implicitly entertaining about donning the persona of a powerful fighter and beating the crap out of someone.

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