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
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…
Time for one last farewell to Cologne’s Gamescom show for this year. Microsoft PR sent over a walloping great load of photos from the event, so we thought we’d pass some along and give you a chance to see the sights from the comfort of your creaky old armchair. Sights specific to Kinect and Kinect Sports: Season Two, obviously, not just any old bunch of random sights.
So here we go, a wall of images from the Xbox Play Day, the Community Party and the Gamescom show floor itself. Dig in.
George Andreas (Lead Designer) was at this year’s Gamescom in Cologne, demonstrating Kinect Sports: Season Two and giving gamers their first taste of Tennis and Darts in action. With our loyal readers in mind, we smuggled a notepad and pen into George’s rucksack and threatened him with terrible punishments if he failed to turn in a diary of his adventures in Deutschland. Enjoy!
We started the week-long event by visiting five-time Grand Slam champion Martina Hingis at her hotel to give her some ‘expert’ tuition on Kinect Sports: Season Two‘s Tennis before the following day’s publicity shoot at the Xbox Play Day. I must admit, I wasn’t sure what to expect. I knew she was obviously a huge tennis star, but wasn’t sure how she would take to Rare’s spin on the real sport she once dominated so impressively.
After a few practice rallies, Martina was soon getting the hang of the game. She then looked at me with a steely determination in her eyes and asked if I was the best at this game… game on! I consider myself to be a highly competitive person given the right circumstances, but it was so ingrained in Martina that she wanted to win and win big. With very little tuition, she soon learned some of the more advanced tricks and techniques and we ended up playing for over half an hour. Needless to say, Martina was well prepared for the next day’s event.
She swept away the competition at the show and was determined to seek out a rematch with me between her publicity commitments. We found time and started a match. She beat me. In full view of a cheering crowd that had gathered to watch. Oh dear. Well done Martina.