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With its new home console, Microsoft is hoping to make Kinect – the motion-sensing camera that comes bundled in the box – one of the main features of the Xbox One experience. Far superior to the original Kinect camera released in 2010, the new unit is noticeably more accurate and can be used in almost complete darkness, also boasting a field of vision 60 percent wider than the original.

But for many Japanese gamers, Kinect simply isn’t a device that works for them. Compared to Western residences, Japanese homes are much smaller, in closer proximity to others, and in some cases with walls so thin that you might wonder whether you could punch through them during moments of nerd rage.

Can Kinect for Xbox One offer the same exciting, controller-free experience in Japan that it does in America and Europe? Our man went hands-on.

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  •  Two dudes, one tiny room

Microsoft reports that the new Kinect can be used in much smaller spaces than the model released for Xbox 360 and PC, stating that on average solo games require the player to be about 4 ft. 7 in. (1.4 m) from camera. For two players, you’ll need around 6 feet (1.8 m) of space.

But would the camera really hold up when used an apartment whose entire living space is barley 7.6 square metres?

These “wan rumu” (literally “one room” along with a tiny bathroom and a kitchen area also serving as the hall leading to the front door) apartments are far from rare in urban Japan, and provide the bare minimum of space to live comfortably. Hooking up an old Famicom, Gamecube or even a Wii usually isn’t an issue even in these tight spaces, but Microsoft’s Kinect camera requires full body movement, preferably without putting the punching-through-the-wall theory to the test or injuring your buddy during play. Is it really possible to have an enjoyable Kinect experience in such a confined space?

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  • Why yes, yes it is!

“It woooorks!” cried our Japanese reporter Kuzo as he piloted his air jet ski around on-screen obstacles. Even at this incredibly close distance and with two players gesturing simultaneously, Kinect was able to accurately monitor the movements of both adult players. Hats off to Microsoft!

“It’s a little bit tight, and you’ll brush up against each other sometimes,” our man Kuzo commented, “but if you’re a couple this might actually prove to be quite an intimate way to enjoy games together.” Hear that, Japan? Kinect works!

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  • But it’s not quite Braveheart…

“It works. There’s no denying that,” Kuzo reports. “But if you had a little more space it would be much more fun, and you wouldn’t have to worry about bumping into the other player so much.”

So it would seem that, while Microsoft’s boffins have done a superb job of making Kinect that little bit more accessible and something that even those lacking spacious Western-style living rooms can utilise, the real joy to be had with the camera is from that feeling of complete freedom–from controllers, buttons, and any past gaming experience. That feeling of freedom is sapped somewhat when you have to apologise for elbowing your pal every 30 seconds or glancing around you to check you’re not about to take out a lamp.

Even so, we’re happy to report that for those hoping to import or pick up an Xbox One when it finally launches in Japan sometime next year, Kinect for Xbox One is absolutely useable in tighter spaces, and single players will have nothing to worry about whatsoever. Well, except for annoying their neighbours while stomping around to Zumba Fitness: World Party and being threatened with an eviction notice…

Photos/video: RocketNews24

▼ We’ll make a zumba instructor out of you yet, Kuzo!

▼ No space? (Almost) no problem!

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[ Read in Japanese ]