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A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that PowerUp Heroes is a relatively mild fighting game for kids that requires the Xbox 360 Kinect sensor. Battles see players kicking, punching, and moving their arms and bodies in specific ways to carry out fantastical energy attacks. The bloodless action is tame compared to fighting games geared for older audiences, but the act of physically striking out creates a more immersive experience and could make some players feel more aggressive. Parents should also note that this game can be played online with strangers, though it doesn't support the console's communication features.
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What's it about?
POWERUP HEROES makes players the world's last hope against a group of planetary invaders. A lone hero crash lands on Earth just ahead of the menace and passes on his power suit to the player, explaining that a desperate fight against a villain known as Malignance is about to begin. You then take on Malignance's minions one by one in battles consisting of three-rounds, earning new suits and a variety of power-ups as the game progresses. What sets PowerUp Heroes apart from other tween-oriented fighters is that players use their bodies to control the action, punching and kneeing the air to land blows on their virtual opponents and making simple arm movements to carry out a variety of fantastical attacks. Outside of the campaign, players can practice their moves, take on a friend in the same room with both players facing the screen (be careful to stand well apart from each other!), and battle both friends and strangers online.
Is it any good?
PowerUp Heroes begins with an interesting concept -- a more or less traditional fighting game designed to allow players to act out their avatar's moves in real space -- but never really takes off. Part of the blame has to do with its simplistic single- and multi-player modes, as well as its sleek but flavorless visual design. The story is pretty much non-existent, the campaign offers little variety, and the graphics feel decidedly plain.
However, a bigger problem is that the motion controls don't feel quite right. The Kinect camera is slow to pick up on some movements -- particularly blocks -- and the pace of battles seems too slow, mostly because it takes a lot longer to carry out series of physical movements than it would to press a few buttons. The potential for a good Kinect fighting game is here, but it's never realized.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about motion control. Do you feel a psychological or emotional difference when you make physical punching and kicking movements as opposed to simply pressing buttons? Is one form of control more immersive than the other?
Families can also discuss online safety. What precautions do you take when encountering strangers online? What would you do if you thought you ran into a cyber-bully?
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.