Dive right into what may be the world’s first swimming video game. And no, the water levels in Mario games don’t count. Actually there was an old 80’s arcade game called “Swimmer” so I guess it’s not the very first. Anyway, use your whole body to swim in Olympic style races with Michael Phelps: Push the Limit for Xbox 360 Kinect.
Each race starts out with you waving your arms to pump up the crowd. This helps build your stamina meter. Then you must crouch down and get ready to stand up and extend your arms out like you are about to dive as soon as you hear the gunshot. After hitting the water, make swimming stroke motions with your arms, and try to follow the speed prompted on screen. Easier said than done, however. On the return trip across the pool, you can swim as fast as you can, so just go crazy. Then time it right to extend your arms to grab the edge of the pool. And that’s all there is to it.
In Career Mode, choose a male or female swimmer and outfit him or her with different gear, hair, and other looks. Compete in a series of races to make it to the championship. Do well enough and you can unlock better swimmers, even Michael Phelps himself! He also reads along the instructions to you, although I have to say Phelps is a better swimmer than an expressive reader. You can also do a single quick race or a party mode for up to 8 players.
The only problem with this game is that it’s way too hard. I’m a pretty strong swimmer in real life, and I couldn’t get anything better than 8th place in the races. If you can overlook the brutal challenge level or lack of gameplay variety, you might have some fun with this, though.
Even though it doesn’t say it explicitly, this game is actually pretty good exercise, so it makes for a decent fitness title. Plus, it might encourage little ones to learn how to swim. They might get frustrated at the steep difficulty, though. Reading skill is helpful, but not needed as the tutorial shows you what to do with picture cues, too. Michael Phelps: Push the Limit is rated E for Everyone.