We’ve had the official News story on this month’s Kinect Sports: Season Two BAFTA win, but we thought it was worth complementing with a report direct from the scene. So we pinned down Simon, one of Rare’s delegates for the evening, and persuaded him to hand over a folder full of pictures and a rundown of the event from the rough vicinity of the red carpet and champagne seats….
Simon: The night started with the ten of us meeting outside our hotel, donning pretty much the same black tie attire, ready to set off to the Hilton on Park Lane. We were handed our golden tickets for the event before jumping into black cabs for the short ride.
Once we arrived, we made our way into the front entrance and then found out there was a red carpet around the back! As we realised this may be a once in a lifetime chance, we walked back outside, around the hotel and down the red carpet. No-one asked for our autographs for some reason, but it was worth it all the same…
We made our way upstairs for the champagne reception. The room was packed with invitees all dressed to the max, and we enjoyed catching up with some ex-Rareites whilst sipping the enormous amounts of champagne on offer. The room was quite large but you could hardly move, and after a couple of glasses of champagne it really started to heat up.
On February 22nd, Rare dispatched the athletic equivalent of a hardcore SWAT team to the Birmingham National Indoor Arena. The reason for this was the Birmingham Bolt, a charity sporting event for UK Midlands businesses to compete and raise money for charity. With us having a couple of Kinect Sports games under our belts, it seemed rude not to.
Ex-Olympic 400m and relay runner Daniel Caines was on hand to commentate: no pressure then. But one hotly contested afternoon later, as the event drew to a close and the smoke cleared in and around the charity Thunderdome, the Rare squad had left their mark by finishing third overall. Contributing to this result was the long jump gold claimed by our man Simon, along with Eoin’s second place in the 400 metres. Not half bad!
Congratulations and thanks to all who took part, both for the result and the money raised. The full entry fee went to The Birmingham Civic Society’s Next Generation Awards, which works with over 13,000 young people in Birmingham to help them make a positive contribution to the city. Meanwhile all sponsorship money raised by Rare (and boosted by Microsoft) goes to our nominated charity for this event, Cancer Research UK.
Enjoy the pics of our dashing team in action. Or loitering around, or posing… but mainly in action.
It’s no longer Kinect Sports: Season Two launch week, so here’s a round-up of some of the best review comments so far. And to spice it up, we’ve thrown in a few photos from the Rare on-site launch party/comedy awards ceremony last Friday, with Voice of The X Factor/Kinect Sports and all-round top bloke Peter Dickson hosting. There he is, look! Second picture! We’re not lying! He came to our late-night bash in Birmingham too, but you’re not seeing any pictures from that.
“As much as we loved the original, there was a feeling that it would take another year before we really got the Kinect Sports game we all hoped for. Thankfully, that gut instinct has proven to be entirely correct; Kinect Sports: Season Two is bigger, bolder and even more enjoyable than its illustrious forerunner, making it arguably the title of choice for Kinect players this holiday season.” – Kinectaku
“We’d go as far to say Kinect Sports: Season Two is the defining party sports game for the Xbox 360. Said it. It’s out there. Can’t take it back.” – DIY
“Let your guard down long enough and you’ll soon find you’ve lost hours flailing away to the game’s genuine charms.” – Tech Digest
With only a fortnight to go (less in some territories), promotion is underway in earnest and the fair name of Kinect Sports: Season Two is surfacing in all kinds of situations. TGS, EG Expo, GAMEfest, GAMES11 and rAge were among the last wave of public gaming events, so let’s rummage like maddened raccoons to unearth what’s been going on since then.
The G3 (Gaming and Giving for Good) fundraisers in the US were a big deal, with actors, musicians and sports stars ranging from Anthony Anderson to Ryan Merriman via Brea Grant and Carol Rodriguez stepping into the G3 Miracle Lounge to field Kinect and Xbox 360 Game With Fame challenges from online competitors in aid of a great cause, Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals. That was a big sentence. Meanwhile, Kinect Sports went solo in GameStop’s own G3 Game With Fame, inviting people to meet and compete against basketball stars Shawn Marion, Andrew Bynum, Brandon Roy and Landry Fields in four different stores from New York to West Hollywood.
CollegeFest 2011 drew a few diverse faces of its own into the Sports fold, while Canada went with football stars for its own official event – the Kinect Sports: Season Two All Star Challenge, still live at the time of writing – which offers entrants a chance to hike over to Toronto and face off against Damon Allen and J.P. Arencibia.
In the UK, Season Two picks up where Kinect Sports left off in sponsoring the latest series of Sky’s knockabout sports quiz A League of Their Own on Friday nights, and also joins the ‘Your Kinect’ Experience in ferrying its fashionable booth from the Metro Centre down to London’s Westfield and the Clothes Show Live in Birmingham, luring in thrilled gamesplayers and alarmed shoppers to get hands-on and “play Kinect in your own personalised room”.
Also in the UK, press and Xbox webmasters recently headed down to The Gathering 2011 preview event in Reading to play games, watch presentations, mingle and compete with the Xbox EMEA team and devs including Rare’s own “Big Fun” and “The Missile”. Far-flung Singapore then got its own Kinect Magic holiday preview event where the likes of Beatrice Chia and Mark Richmond turned up and got stuck in. We’re a bit envious of the Singaporean contingent’s fancy Season Two decor.
The TV ad for Season Two is now circulating online, so you should be seeing that pop up on your actual telly very shortly. In the meantime, let’s not forget that Kinect Sports (original flava) is nominated in the Best Sports category at this year’s Golden Joysticks, or that pre-ordering Season Two through listed retailers in certain territories will get you the Bonus Old School Avatar Pack. Superstylin’.
(Image credits: Casey Rodgers/AP Images for Microsoft, Graeme “The Badness” Boyd)
Last week, Kinect Sports: Season Two made an appearance at GAMES11, a three-day consumer event which is fast becoming a major fixture in the Middle East’s gaming calendar.
Much like the recent GAMEfest shenanigans, there were no official Rare bodies on site, but thanks to a fortuitous alignment of the planets I happened to be on holiday in Dubai at the time. And so, in a shameless attempt to earn myself employee of the month (unlikely), I dragged myself away from my poolside sun lounger to seek out some blogworthy snaps.
The event took place at The Dubai Mall, the world’s largest shopping, leisure and entertainment ‘destination’ which contains over a thousand wallet-busting stores, and is (according to Wikipedia) the same size as more than 50 football pitches. Undeterred, I set off with my trusty map in hand, determined to track down the ice rink, which I’d been reliably informed was close to the event.
After a few wrong turns, a brief stop in Starbucks and a financially crippling thirty minutes in Bloomingdales, I finally arrived to discover that the event wasn’t near the ice rink… it was on the ice rink. Presumably the event organisers had set about the ice with hairdryers the night before or (more likely) had applied some terribly clever ice carpet that prevented everyone from sliding about.
We’d heard that Kinect Sports: Season Two would be part of the Xbox 360 and Kinect presence at the Birmingham NEC’s inaugural GAMEfest event, so even though no official Rare attendance was required for demo or interview duties, a few of us still headed over to scope it out on the first day. Well, 20 minutes down the M42, it would have been rude not to.
The show turned out to be a good size and well-publicised, the usually labyrinthine route from the NEC car parks lined with posters and flags. It was clear upon sweeping through the entrance that it was also set to be well-attended. Of course we’re not talking E3 or Gamescom here, but with no shortage of pre-release big hitters – from Arkham City and Skyrim at one end to the Big Threes (Gears, Battlefield and Modern Warfare) at the other – the queuing action was nothing to be sniffed at.
So we recently held a press day at Rare HQ in Twycross, with a mixture of UK, European and American journalists enticed into our lair to get hands-on and in-depth with all six sports from Kinect Sports: Season Two. We also made a big effort to spruce up the surroundings in the days before they arrived, so we thought you might enjoy a little look behind the scenes.
Some eyelash-flutteringly nice impressions of the game (and the day itself) have since appeared online. Highlights are quoted and linked below, and if we spot any more we’ll big them up on our Twitter feed and Kinect Sports Facebook page. For now, check out some of Dale and Leigh’s snaps from the day…
Kinect Sports: Season Two got another airing over the weekend, when PAX Prime opened its mammoth expo halls in Seattle. For those of you not within striking distance of the Emerald City, we’ve put together a perfectly packaged roundup of everything that went on.
After Tennis and Darts recently debuted at Gamescom, it was finally Baseball’s turn to step up and get some attention. Visitors to the Kinect booth got the chance to try out batting and pitching using Season Two‘s improved motion control and new voice commands.
Reactions from the showfloor were positive, with Baseball even managing to convert a sceptical Anthony Gallegos from IGN:
“After a few swings with a virtual baseball bat I found myself smiling, joking with the other player, and — dare I admit it — having fun… If the rest of ‘Kinect Sports: Season Two’ is as approachable and well-functioning as baseball, then fans of the original have a lot to look forward to.”
Constant from Machinima was similarly won over when he met up with Producer Harry to talk Baseball and find out how Season Two layers complexity for different types of gamers:
While Harry and the team continued to work up a Baseball-induced sweat in Seattle, our UK contingent released a handful of new Baseball screens and some new gameplay footage that promptly started popping up all over the interweb. Like here, here and here.
We’re told that G4 and a few other sites will be posting their own interviews and hands-on previews shortly, so keep ‘em peeled!