The Microsoft Kinect is a motion sensor device developed for the Xbox 360 and later for the Xbox One.
Motion sensor devices are a largely underused asset in home video gaming, in my opinion. There is perhaps a whole discussion to be had about how and why…
But if the popularity of the Nintendo Wii and its many successes in motion sensor based games are any indication… there is clearly a fanbase ready to swing their way into some unique gaming experiences.
With over 35 million units of the Kinect out in the wild, and over 130 games that support the device… gamers have a lot of fun options out there if they are interested in trying their hand.
Nintendo had a firm hold on the motion sensor market, but Xbox is where some of the coolest intellectual properties saw adaptations for gaming.
So which are the absolute best experiences for the Kinect? Let’s take a look at the 15 best Microsoft Kinect games of 2023.
Table of Contents
15. Fruit Ninja Kinect
This is an easy one. If you have ever played Fruit Ninja on mobile phones or even in arcade… you know what to expect:
It’s a bunch of fruit thrown your way, and you hack and slash your way through them. Like any good ninja would.
On mobile phones, you swipe your finger across the screen. In arcades you swipe your fingers across much larger screens of flying fruit.
When Halfbrick brought their legendary mobile game to the Xbox Kinect, fans ate it up.
And it gave fans of the popular game a new way to slash through those annoying flying fruits: by actually swinging their arms.
Fruit Ninja was a perfect example of the basic use of the Kinect motion controlled action. And a perfect way to start our list of the best Kinect games.
This one is a bit of a personal pick.. as I am a HUGE animal lover and i think this is one of the best Microsoft Kinect games ever.
Kinectimals was a Kinect launch title where players can interact with live animals in a virtual space.
Adopt a feline friend and raise them, train them, or.. like me.. just pet them like crazy.
It’s a game aimed at kids… but don’t be surprised if you find me giving it a go.
13. Dragon Ball Z for Kinect
Are you a fan of Dragon Ball Z? Do you ever wish you could actually be a part of the battles? With your actual fists? Well now is your chance!
The Kinect iteration of the Dragon Ball Z fight series puts players directly inside the characters.
Play from a first person perspective and literally use your arms to block and attack in battles with some of your favorite characters from the Dragon Ball Z universe.
A heck of a good time if you have the energy to keep up the fight.
Are you a fan of fight games? Check out our list of the best anime fighting games and see where Dragon Ball Z came in. (hint: it’s pretty high!)
12. D4: Dark Dreams Don’t Die
D4: Dark Dreams Don’t Die is an episodic manga inspired adventure video game.
The “D4” portion of the title eluding to the fourth dimension of time, which you control in different ways to reveal the story of the game.
The Xbox One version of the game makes use of both motion controls and voice activated events to uncover the mystery of the main characters untimely death.
Unfortunately, the series was discontinued after two episodes, following the loss of one of its writers. But the fans were still able to get a taste of what was to come, and we are all the better for it.
11. Sonic Free Riders
The RetroDodo team take our Sonic games very seriously. So we take an extra critical look at any Sonic adjacent release.
So this Xbox 360 exclusive must be particularly unique to get our attention.
In Sonic Free Riders, your body literally becomes the controller as you jump and turn your way through fast-paced courses.
The Kinect camera reads your movement and pushes Sonic along an action-packed rollercoaster of a ride.
10. Toy Story Mania!
I am a huge Toy Story fan. And I am an even bigger Disneyland fan.
I grew up in Southern California, and had an annual Disney Pass for most of my life, up until I moved from California at the age of 32!
One of my top 5 attractions is Toy Story Midway Mania. A truly magical experience where you are taken through a series of 3d video shooting mini-games.
It is a ton of fun, and it’s not uncommon to see people exiting the ride and immediately getting back in line to have another go at it.
So when Disney Interactive Studios ordered up a home console version of the experience, fans were so onboard.
Like its PC, Playstation and Wii counterparts, the Xbox 360 version uses motion controls to control the various mini-games, which are typically shooting themed.
Nothing can compare to the actual ride experience, but as far as at home options go, the Kinect version is definitely a good time!
9. Just Dance 2020
The “Just Dance” series is one that has been a mainstay in gaming for many years.
And anytime there’s motion controls, there’s bound to be a new “Just Dance”.
The Xbox One version of the game is exactly what you come to expect from the franchise… a bunch of great songs, a bunch of fun dances, and a good time for solo players or a group of friends.
A classic game that is sure to be on most top anything lists, and an easy entry on our list of the best Microsoft Kinect games.
8. Rise of Nightmares
Rise of Nightmares is an Xbox 360 Kinect exclusive first person horror experience.
For fans of games in the vein of House of the Dead or Condemned, this one is a prime example of how the Xbox had an edge over Nintendo for interesting game IPs for the Kinect.
Where Nintendo is known for sticking to cute and safe… the Xbox titles could push the limits and offer more adult stories to an older audience who still want to enjoy unique motion control experiences.
7. Forza Motorsport 4
Forza Motorsport is a series of stylish action racing games known for their “cool” factor. And they are also at the forefront of innovation in the racing genre.
Making use of the Kinect camera… you literally steer with your hands and move your head to look around corners.
You can even get out of the vehicle and walk around it to give it a good gander.
And these are all just fun additional features added to an already stellar racing game.
The Horizon 2 iteration of the Forza series integrates voice commands to activate the in-game GPS system known as “ANNA” who can offer navigations suggestions and keep you up to date on mission goals.
But it is the use of actual steering and driving in FM4 that really stood out to us as the most fun use of the Kinect, putting it on our list of the best Microsoft Kinect games.
6. Kinect Star Wars
Kinect Star Wars… another perfect example of Xbox’s superiority in awesome IPs to leverage for their Kinect peripheral.
Star Wars is a franchise used in so many awesome ways in gaming… but when it comes to motion controls, Kinect Star Wars is a great example of what fans have been waiting for…
Lightsaber fighting. And you are actually the one swinging it. Who doesn’t want that?
Admittedly, Lego Star Wars did it on the Wii a few years earlier, but that felt gimmicky and for a younger audience.
Kinect Star Wars was the cool, adult version of hands on Star Wars.
And that’s not all. Control rocket bikes, jump, kick, dodge, and shoot your way through a short, but enjoyable experience. It’s one of the gems of this best Microsoft Kinect games list.
FRU is a fun one.
This unique platforming experience makes use of the Kinect’s camera where your body literally becomes the environment.
Your back might hurt after a while, cause you will be putting yourself in some pretty laughable positions to get your character across unique environments.
But it is all worth the pain, and the Kinect integration is on full display here.
All beautifully executed in a visually stunning adventure.
A truly one of a kind experience that is not to be missed on the Kinect.
4. Dead Space 3
Dead Space is one of the most beloved franchises in the horror genre and we had to add it to the number 3 slot of our best Microsoft Kinect Games list.
It creates a unique atmosphere and a sense of tension that is sure to have you fumbling at the sticks.
During some of the more stressful moments, you are sure to forget your controls and get eaten alive for missing a beat.
So what better way to reduce the stress than by the integration of voice commands via the Kinect?
Reload weapons, heal partners, access inventory and much more… all hands-free. So you can keep your fingers on the trigger and eyes on the target.
There’s bound to be a lot of screaming while playing this game anyways, might as well put that screaming to use!
3. Kinect Adventures!
Kinect Adventures! is one of those perfect examples of a motion controlled action sports game where your body becomes the controller.
Released in 2010 along side the Kinect, “Adventures!” is a collection of five mini-games that is the Kinect answer to Wii Sports. But like.. much better looking.
I always felt like some of the best selling Nintendo Wii titles that made use of the motion controls felt a bit bland and boring. And Kinect Adventures! is a step above in both excitement and visual appeal.
If you are a fan of party mini-games, and laughing at your friends, for sure give this one a try. It’s everything you expect while being entirely its own and different.
It also took the number one spot on our list of the best selling Xbox 360 games of all time.
2. Blue Estate
Blue Estate is a colorful, crazy, violent joyride. All made better with the Kinect.
This on-rails style shooter makes use of motion controls via the Kinect sensor to aim and shoot your way through a super well polished title for the Xbox One.
You will literally need to flip your hair out of your face before taking your shots, which is just part of the wacky humor delivered in Blue Estate.
It’s crazy and over the top… and a perfect implementation of a motion controlled game for the Kinect.
1. The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
Skyrim is one of the best selling RPG games of all time and it may surprise you that it’s on this best Microsoft Kinect games list.
It is also one of those games that just keeps being re-released. Over and over and over.
Between various consoles and remasters, there were at least twelve releases of the game (that I could count).
And I’m not complaining. It is an incredible game, made better and better with each release. And fans are here for it. “TAKE MY MONEY!”
It was the 2012 Xbox 360 release that saw Kinect integration come to Skyrim.
The use of voice commands allowed for spell casting, alley commands, and quick menu navigation.
This was another example of the simple integration of the Kinect’s microphone to augment gameplay of some of our favorite games.
A peripheral should never get in the way of gameplay. It should always add to the experience, not take away. Subtle use is sometimes the better use.
It says it right on the cover: “Better with Kinect Sensor”.
And that’s what we should come to expect from a game making good use of the Kinect’s functionality: that it makes the game better, not adding additional difficulty through clumsy motion control or useless functionality.
And because Kinect’s integration into Skyrim is so seamless, and it makes an already perfect game even better… that is why we give it our number one spot for the best Microsoft Kinect game.
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Anthony has been a video game lover ever since he can remember. He became a fulltime nomad in 2018, living throughout most of Asia. He focused his passion in retro gaming and began creating a game for the Game Boy Color while living in Nara, Japan during the 2020 pandemic. He is now in Chiang Mai, Thailand, where he spends most of his time gaming, going on long walks and meeting as many stray dogs as possible.