Twister, as a traditional video game, would be destined to fail. Pressing a button to put right leg on red would just be nowhere near as fun as wiggling your limbs to screw over some poor sap struggling to make their body obey the almighty colour spinner.
But Kinect’s Twister Mania is no traditional video game, eschewing buttons and control pads in favor of motions and cameras — nor is it traditional Twister, with its lack of mat and jovial abuse of competitors. Instead, developer Naked Sky Entertainment crafts what is undeniably a Twister game through and through by taking advantage of its source material’s signature 1960’s vibrant minimalism and building a handful of fun minigames from the the core concept of colourful contortion that, much like the original, is fun in the occasional short burst at parties or with a sufficiently playful crowd.
Truth be told there aren’t a whole lot of modes here, but where other minigame collections seem more interested in a large amount of inevitable junk, Twister Mania’s games are reasonably well thought-out and actually fun to play, feeling less adaptive of and more complimentary to the Hasbro original. Each of the five games comes down to either avoiding or filling in shapes and obstacles by twisting and flinging your body in some sort of ridiculous way; while at the core each game is similar there's enough personality to differentiate from one another. One mode has you smashing through walls in as few attempts as possible as they come careening towards you, another has you filling in shapes with your body based on a theme, and yet another takes a photo of your silhouette and asks competitors to fill it in. Each is silly good fun that you can’t help but smile at when playing, let alone when watching someone else try to assume a horse shape or fit through a banana-shaped hole in the wall.
All but one of the five games are playable solo through either quick play or campaign modes, with multiple difficulty levels influencing play speed and complexity of shapes and obstacles. Solo play can be fun in a pinch but the lack of depth in the minigames makes it all a bit of a drag after a while — but, honestly, if you’re investing in a Twister game with the intention of playing all alone then we’ve got a real nice bridge over in Brooklyn for sale that you might be interested in. Playing with others brushes all issues of depth aside and lets the fun take center stage. Up to eight players can participate in four teams of two, but the max amount of simultaneous players is two — a disappointingly small number until you realise how much play space is required as you dodge all over the place.
Photos at the end of each round capture key moments of ridicule that, unlike many other Kinect titles with this feature, go beyond photos of you in your play space by pasting photos of your body into the game’s world. You may get a smirk out of looking odd in your living room, but seeing blocks and stars exploding all around you does a better job of capturing the game’s humorous essence.
Twister Mania could have easily been a train wreck but manages to accomplish the rare feat of skipping the established and translating what makes Twister fun in the first place to a different medium, coming across as a new way to play an old favourite instead of a clumsy, strange and unnecessary adaptation. True to Twister legacy, it’s not something you’ll bust out for extended sessions but good times are almost inevitable in those instances you do.