We all imagined that Kinect Fun Labs was Microsoft's way of providing engaging, free content to Kinect fans, but with the third paid add-on it's clear the emphasis has shifted towards a microtransaction model. Does Kinect Fun Labs: Mutation Station offer enough to justify the adoption of this new sales strategy?
While Kinect Sparkler introduced finger-tracking, there's no such big feature for Mutation Station to call on: essentially the app is a virtual Hall of Mirrors, offering six transformative effects for you to play around with.
First the software snaps a picture of your background without you in it, then invites you to step forward and raise your hand. An icon to the left scrolls through the six available transformations: when you see one you want, just step to the left and after a short delay the process is complete.
One or two players can appear paper-thin, enormously muscular, tiny, comically rotund, mirrored down the middle or with a big inflatable head, with each player able to select their own transformation individually. The results vary in quality: watching your own head inflate and deflate when touched is amusing, but the enlarging effects often make your arms appear malformed, ruining the effect overall.
As with all Fun Labs add-ons, the only real longevity is controlled by your imagination, with the ability to upload photos or videos of the mutations straight away. There's Achievement points to amass in single or multiplayer, but the experience is limited: 240 Microsoft Points isn't a huge amount, but it doesn't buy you a huge amount either.
Kinect Fun Labs: Mutation Station is essentially a digital Hall of Mirrors with six warped effects, none of which really make fantastic use of Kinect's capabilities. The software lacks the active aspects that made Kinect Fun Labs: Air Band such fun to play, and without the creativity of Kinect Sparkler it's a bit of a failed experiment.