Microsoft’s got plenty of “casual” offerings this holiday season. For the past few weeks I’ve been at it with Lips, Scene It? Box Office Smash and now with You’re In The Movies. You can’t blame them for not trying to widen the supposedly hardcore crowd of the Xbox 360.
All of these casual franchises suffer from the same basic problem: they are first iterations of new IP. Well, there’s been a Scene It title before, but I take that they haven’t really progressed things with this new iteration. Acknowledging that there’s going to be some rough edges and keeping in mind that these titles are not meant for the very demanding, exacting hardcore audience, I have to say that I’ve been entertained.
Quiz games and singing games have been done a lot in the past so I’ll bypass those for now, except for saying that they’re both competent and that Lips has overtaken Singstar as this household’s singing game of choice, while Scene It fails to leave Buzz in its wake. You’re In The Movies is something new, though. While the actual gameplay is not that different from a Playstation Eyetoy title, what they’re doing with it is novel.
I hesitate to call You’re In The Movies a game, because while there is a rudimentary scoring in place, it’s not about winning or losing. If I rated it as “a game”, it would be woeful indeed. But it’s all about getting your performance into the TV and making something fun with your friends.
There are some things you need to understand, going in. First of all is that you’re not actually going to make “a movie”. Rather, you’re making trailers. Before getting all giddy about that, though, you need to realize that the Xbox Live Vision camera is actually pretty bad. The resolution is low, it’s not very good at tracking movement and the image quality is just sub-par. Any mobile phone camera would do a better job. But the thing is, with You’re In The Movies, it doesn’t really matter. If you’re interested enough to gather up four friends, build the set (you need a uniform background and people not wearing the background’s color with even, bright lighting) and go through the half-hour period of bad acting and physical activities, you’ll very likely find the results amusing. And that’s really all that matters.
The game works for a couple of reasons. If you want to participate, you should find bad melodrama hilarious. If so, acting out and witnessing your friends acting out bad melodrama is even more fun. The other good thing is that they keep you guessing. Only a fraction of the stuff you do over the filming session is used in the assembled trailer – you never know which bits are going to end up on the screen. As a great idea, the physical activities are disguised. The minigame might have you turning a valve, but in the trailer you’re seen driving a car, wrestling with the wheel, for instance.
A one-trick pony it is, only usable in parties with friends and even then requiring quite a bit of setup, but it’s really something else. Despite technical difficulties and the disappointing camera, I can’t really fault the game for trying something new. If you have the disposable income, this should prove good fun in limited doses.