If there is one thing I learned from playing Self-Defense Training Camp, it is that dudes should constantly be wearing a cup. Every day trips to the grocery store, during a meeting at work, or just walking to the mailbox, it does not matter – just make sure you are wearing your cup as women are trained to attack the satchel.
Self-Defense Training Camp isn't so much of a game as it is a glorified app for Kinect. Like Wii Fit, this title demonstrates a series of techniques and movements in which the player is then tasked with duplicating. The Kinect sensor then rates the player on movement performance and actually does a decent job of acting as a teacher. But users interested in saving time, here's a tip: just punch, kick, or knee the beanbag. The game actually focuses so much on nut attacks, I couldn't help but realize that these moves would not be as effective if being attacked by a female.
Speaking of which, the game is targeted for the female user not just because they assume that males will always attack them, but they also have many tips and tutorials for everyday womanhood. Tips like the proper way to carry a purse, how to walk with confidence, and of course, how to bash balls will all be demonstrated by 3D character models and a real life female self-defense trainer.
The game is broken down in a few different categories, highlighting the many aspects of self-defense and beyond. After the initial self-defense activities are completed, new activities like Dance Central-like stretching, cardio fitness and even balance games become unlocked. The variety of activities is well diversified and extends beyond just fighting back. The professional self-defense teacher even has high definition tutorial videos that can watched at any time from the main menu and are actually not as corny as one might expect. Also, event activity that is completed unlocks a new activity which keeps players motivated and wondering what will be available next. Achievements are unlocked pretty easily if you are willing to take the time.
Unlike other Kinect titles, this game actually recognized my movements pretty accurately. There are times when the Kinect doesn't recognize transitioning movements from one defensive attack to the next, but this mostly is due to speed. Instead of speeding through motions, the game wants the player to move a little slower to get the motions down pat. Once this concept is understood, there should be little, if any Kinect motion issues. And in all honesty, this game might be a little too liberal on recognizing movements as I was purposely doing a motion that was off but the game still counted it as an excellent grade. But in comparison, this gimme attitude is more game friendly than a frustrating and super tedious control scheme; this isn't Dance Central or DDR after all.
Presentation values are also pleasant as the game takes place in a calming and unintimidating virtual gym. Even the hand swipe menu navigation system works well and using a punch motion to confirm menu selection is a secret way to reinforce the self-defense techniques. Sure, some of the character models look a little plasticy, but all movements are demonstrated clearly. Sometimes, however, movements are not narrated in sync to what the on screen dummy does which can lead to confusion. For example, the narrator told me to kick with the bottom of my foot, but the avatar kicked with the top of the foot – which just so happened to be a nut shot, surprise surprise. Again, due to the forgiving Kinect acknowledgement, the game still recognized my motion but confused me. Also, many times the game will tell the player kick without specifying which foot. Having the narrator specify which foot, or hand, to attack with would have helped provide that extra instruction that is sometimes needed.
Besides the occasional vague narration, my only other complaint involves the load times. Before any activity can be performed, the player must wait through a rather lengthy load screen. And since some activities can last only a few seconds, there are times when it will feel like you are looking at the loading screen more than the actual gameplay. This title in no way pushes the 360 to its limit so it is a major bummer and inconvenience that a more streamlined loading system was not put into place.
I cannot say anything exceedingly negative about Self-Defense Training Camp as you will really learn some handy techniques while having a bit of fun in the process. It is nothing too overly complicated and the Kinect system as a whole is one of the least frustrating that I have experienced. If you are a part of this game's niche target audience and want to learn some basic fighting techniques, then Self-Defense Training Camp can't really steer you wrong. I, on the other hand, will be wearing a reinforced cup from now on.
Better Than: you'd expect
Also Try: kicking a sack of potatoes
Wait For It: Self-Defense Purple Nurple
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