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Air Guitar Warrior for Kinect Xbox One review: A full dose of flair metal shredding

Air Guitar Warrior is half music game, half side scrolling shooter — and ALL hard rock attitude.

Everyone loves air guitars. It's OK. It's human to air guitar, right? When you start to hear the sweet licks of those strings, you know you have to take the stance. Whether you're channeling your inner Jimi Hendrix, Jimmy Page or John Frusciante, in Air Guitar Warrior you're about to battle through 10 albums to face off against Heavy Metal Zeus at the Temple of the Rock Gods.

Air Guitar Warrior is good fun. If you love the "flamboyance" of heavy metal, shooting off lasers, flying skulls and firing streams of bullets from the headstock of crazy guitars while standing on the back of a jet-propelled crocodile, there's definitely something for you here.

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How it works

This Kinect game for Xbox One works reasonably well. The menu selection is kept simple, utilizing a swipe and grab gesture, and you hold over items to select them. You don't need much room since the Kinect only really needs to see your full body, and you are displayed onscreen riding the most insane animals. You can select which is your dominant guitar-playing side, pick your ax (or "guitar" for you non-rockers) and assume the position.

The arm you hold out as you pretend you're holding the neck of the guitar determines which of the four bullet types you'll use to shoot down the approaching flying enemies and the angle you shoot at. Your strumming hand determines the speed at which you'll shoot the bullets. Each position and strum-type shoots bullets in a particular way. Chugging rhythms can take out a couple of enemies with accurate aiming, but using them in combination produces a manic and wild guitar solo that would make Yngwie Malmsteen cry. The notes sometimes weave a compelling web, or they're torn apart by jilted bullet switching. It's not often these slips occur, but when they do, it's a little jarring and takes your attention away from the otherwise wickedly composed soundtrack.

After five stages, you fight an end-of-area boss and progress to the next album, marking the occasion by unlocking a new guitar and striking a pose for the front cover. Playing the air guitar is all about not taking yourself seriously and going with what you feel. Let's face it, we have plenty of icons who paved the way to show us that. Look at Mick Jagger.

It doesn't really matter if you're playing in time with the music, the spray-and-pray method seems to work quite well. The beginning levels of each area are relatively easy-going, while the fourth and fifth tracks are often swarming with enemies. By the end of each track, you are left feeling like you have just battled. It's not an exhaustive effort, but two or three tracks in a row will get your tiger blood pumping. There seems to be a relatively quick jump in difficulty, as the pressure ramps up only halfway through the second album.

Couple that with the finer control of selecting the bullet type, and I often ran out of ammo because I was stuck using one type and had difficulty hitting the point at which it would switch to another. This lead to periods of being taken completely out of the moment and frustratingly trying to find a position that worked while taking damage.

Summary

While its 11 years in the making has given the developer, Virtual Air Guitar Company, some strong foundations, its first air guitar game, Air Guitar Warrior isn't King of Kinect Mountain. While it starts off fun, it quickly becomes challenging which may leave people feeling like they've bitten off more than they can chew. I would love for this to be the game that wakes Kinect back up, but there are a few too many bum notes.

Pros:

  • Awesome hand painted scenes.
  • Cool enemy and weapon designs customized for each level.
  • The sheer absurdity of the game overall.

Cons:

  • Ammo selecting requires a lot of finesse.
  • Switching between ammo types can jolt the music.
  • Easy beginning levels may mislead players who are looking for a less challenging game overall.

Air Guitar Warrior is available now for $19.99.

See on the Xbox Store (opens in new tab)

Disclaimer: This review was condicted on Xbox One with a code provided by the developer.

Lauren Relph is a games writer, focusing on Xbox. She doesn't like piña coladas but loves getting caught in the rain. Follow her on Twitter!

12 Comments
  • From the pictures, this actually looks fun LOL. I'm going to have to take a look at some videos to make the final decision.
  • It is fun. It's probably Virtual Air Guitar Co.'s second-best game. Kung-Fu for Kinect is better, in my opinion, but this is still well worth the purchase. For others out there wanting to dip their toes into the wonderful world of motion-controlled gaming, I recommend the following Kinect titles: 1. Fantasia, 2. Fru, 3. Dance Central Spotlight, 4. Dark Dreams Don't Die, 5. Fruit Ninja Kinect 2, 6. Kinect Sports Rivals, 7. Kung-Fu for Kinect, 8. Air Guitar Warrior, 9. Blue Estate, 10. Squid Hero
  • Cool. I have Fruit Ninja 2, Kinect Sports Rivals, Dance Central Spotlight, and Just Dance 2016.
  • Idiotic at best
  • Are you now? I guess we all know.
  • Best wishes on your future reassignment surgery
  • Half-assed comeback. But I suppose that took a lot from you.
  • A self-referential comment, at best.
  • Hyphenated! You must have stayed up all night thinking of that little gem.
  • Nice
  • What companies like Microsoft and Sony fail to realize is that there is one more market they no longer capitalize on. All these people still owning old consoles like PS2 and PSP, if someone there was smart, they could release tools to make these all platforms open to fans and developers for free since they have long been discontinued. With this year's nostalgia for brining classic products back from the dead (Nokia 3310 and Tamagotchi, Nintendo NES) there is a space for more.
  • Sounds like a lot of effort for very little return tbh. I'm sure MS would rather devs just coded for UWP which is pretty open anyway.