Like Whoa, Dude
The Misfits in Adrenalin Misfits are a group of skilled board racers that players will challenge and control (upon beating them) across a variety of skills and racing modes. The boards in Misfits aren’t exactly snowboards, more like hoverboards, and the game features around fifty of them for you to collect. Boards differ in appearance and in four key stats: Speed, Power, Technique, and Jump. Before each event, players pick their character and their board of choice. Different boards are obviously best suited for different events.
The events are the real heart of the game and they include the tutorial mode known as Trial, which was informative without being dull. Upon completing the trial, you’ll know everything necessary to get the most out of Adrenalin Misfits and you will also unlock the initial levels of the remaining modes. These other modes include Downhill Slalom, Flying Distance, Trick Score, Balloon Buster, Free Race, and Stadium Games which consists of three events (Big Air, Half Pipe, Terrain park). Of these, my favorite would be between Free Race and Balloon Buster.
That said, Downhill Slalom pits you against some CPU controlled Misfits as you race downhill, making sure to try and pass through every gate marker on your way to the finish line. Missing gates costs you points, so using a board with good technique to brake and turn smoothly is key. Flying Distance is another race type that has you catching some big air on your way to the finish line. The racer with the most points (i.e., who does the most tricks along the way) is the winner. Trick Score is similar in that you must perform more tricks than the CPU players to win. Balloon Buster reminded me of collecting rings in Sonic Free Riders. In Balloon Buster, the idea isn’t to finish as quickly as the other racers, but to finish having destroyed the most balloons, which break when you touch them. Different colored balloons are worth varying amounts of points. In Free Race, it’s all about getting to the finish as quickly as you can — use tricks wisely to gain a quick speed burst and make the most of shortcuts. Finally, Stadium Games consists of three events that have you jumping for extreme air to perform tricks in, doing stunts in a half pipe, and going through an obstacle course in terrain park.
These events take place across eight different courses from The Snowfields to Desert Storm to Triple Cascades. Konami definitely went for a wide visual variety in their maps and that works to the game’s favor.
No matter the course, it’s all about controlling your racer. Overall, I found the controls of Adrenalin Misfits to be okay — I wouldn’t call them great, but they work pretty well. If you’ve played Sonic Free Riders, some of the controls will be very familiar such as leaning forward to go quicker and to the left and right to steer in those directions. Players can also jump and spin around 360 degrees to perform jumps and tricks in the game. I admit finding some respite in not having to crouch, jump, and spin all the way around as I was doing with mixed success in Sonic. In Adrenalin, you’re able to stand and spin in circles which is kind of nice. Additionally, you can hold out your arms to glide, making landing easier. Passing through certain light gates found on the course will give players a power-up to use at their discretion as well. To use any power up, you just stomp your lead foot, but the reliability of this motion, along with the spinning and gliding especially, wasn’t the most consistent.
I like what Konami did with menu navigation though. To “Ok” a selection, you just raise either arm above your head. To go back a menu screen, hold your arms out to your side. To cycle between options, just move your left and right arm to the left or right. While it does get cumbersome having to navigate the menus and re-select your event, character, and board in between every event, at least the menu controls work very well.
In game, the HUD keeps you attuned to what’s going on. In the upper right hand corner is a small window that shows you what the Kinect sensor is seeing. It’s easy to tell if you’re getting too close to the camera (easy to do after jumping and spinning). The window will flash and you will know to take a step back or whatever you need to do to correct the situation. If necessary, you can pause the game during an event by bringing your character to a full stop and waving your hands above your head. Or you can jump right to Kinect calibration by pressing A on a controller but I never had an issue with this. Anyway, other areas of the HUD show your current placement in the race, the top three races, and your record time and current point total.
Speaking of menus, off the of main menu players can choose between Single Player, Multiplayer, Options, and Data. I wasn’t able to test out multiplayer unfortunately. Under Options, you can tweak volume settings and toggle a few display options, including whether or not the game takes three photos of you during an event. By default, at the end of an event, just after your ranking is shown, the game will pop up three pictures taken by the Kinect sensor during the event. I think this is a pretty cool idea and it’s funny to see different facial expressions and states of body language during gameplay. Oh, and the Extras area under the main menu lets you peruse your unlocked characters, record times, and stats.
As far as presentation, Adrenalin Misfits does alright for itself. Expect a very 90s surfer dude narrator that will make you cringe as he refers to everyone as ‘my babies.’ There are also plenty of old terms like ‘gnarly’ thrown around that should have probably been left unsaid. But, for what it’s worth, the narrator is generally encouraging and I think that’s a good thing for a younger audience. On the flip side, unless you set a new personal record or finish first, the animation of your character as the placement standings are shown is always a very sad and completely bummed out one. I don’t agree with that design decision, although that’s a minor gripe. Anyway, other sounds in Misfits are okay, nothing outstanding. The same can be said for the visuals, really. The framerate does fine and there is a lot of variety in the appearance of the courses, but I haven’t seen any yet to really wow me.
With that, let’s get to the summary…