As a father of two young children I am rapidly seeing the room I used to know and love rapidly be inhabited by dolls, toys, Hello Kitty shaped tea sets, cuddly toys and pillows. Space is beginning to become a rare commodity. This is not so great when your Kinect playing area is already limited. Due to the current setup of my living room – which is also the biggest room the Kinect can go in – I have a space of 8ft 10 inches between TV and wall and keep finding myself standing against the wall so Kinect doesn’t bark orders at me via the screen about moving back, which is fine if I’m playing Child of Eden but if I’m playing anything that involves swinging my arms back it’s not ideal.
Due to this I decided to purchase a Nyko Zoom lens attachment for the Kinect in the hope that I can gain that extra foot of playing area. After shopping around online I ascertained that the price pretty much everywhere is £25 which for me is the sweet spot of gaming (I’ll buy anything gaming wise for £25 or less, which I’ll use to explain Homefront being in my pile of shame).
When you open the box you will find the Nyko Lens, a protective screen and three separate pieces of paper with instructions. Now my first job was to ascertain if I needed the protective sheet as alarm bells always start to ring in my head when attachments come with protective anything. It seems that as the lens has to be a snug fit the protective screen is to be used if you are planning on taking the lens on and off on a regular basis. I’m not but still took the time to carefully apply the protective screen to the Kinect as I don’t want my £100 piece of kit scratched by an attachment that is a quarter of the price. The ease of doing this depends purely on the steadiness of your hand plus the amount of patience you actually have. It’s a very similar operation to applying a screen protector to your touch screen mobile phone or tablet device, so should not fox too many people.
The box says easy to install and I have to agree, the only thing I can think of that is easier to do than install this lens is breathing. You line up the Kinect lenses with the zoom lenses and click the Nyko into place. The Nyko lenses actually fit into the recesses of the Kinect lenses so you will know instantly if you haven’t attached the Nyko lens correctly as it will move from left to right along the Kinect lens. The box says no setup required but also, the box does not state that this is plug and play and some fine tuning with the Kinect tuner is required. When I first switched the Xbox 360 on the Kinect could not find me, which I felt was a little strange as I was standing in the same place as when it could see me without the lens, I took a step forward and still nothing. This is when I had an argument with my Kinect.
Me: Please fine tune yourself so this works Kinect: ummm are you floating just now because I can’t see the floor. Maybe if you put me a bit closer to the edge of the TV unit I will see it ::Simon moves Kinect from top of TV to bottom of TV right on the edge of the TV unit: Me: ok, how about now? Kinect: Nope you still have no floor. Maybe if you put me a bit closer to the edge of the TV unit I will see it Me: Look again Kinect: What is this? Black Magic? you are still floating with no floor. Maybe if you put me a bit closer to the edge of the TV unit I will see it Me: Kinect you ARE on the edge of the TV unit Kinect: I can’t see the floor. Maybe if you put me a bit closer to the edge of the TV unit I will see it ::Simon moves Kinect from the TV unit and places it on the floor:: Me: Right, search again Kinect: Dude, you have no floor Me: AAAAAAAAAARRRRRRRRRGGGGGGHHHHHHHHHH
Upon deciding to continue with the configuration anyway I discovered that the Kinect could not only not see my floor but it could also not see the lower half of my body and my wave action to activate Kinect on the dashboard was also not being picked up. I decided to reboot the Xbox to see if this made any difference and it did for the wave action and my lower body but not the Kinect’s ability to see my floor. I pressed on and booted up Child of Eden.
The first thing I noticed was that I needed to stand about 4 foot closer to the TV which for a single player game I believe is the sweet spot for my room as it puts me pretty much an equal distance between the TV and wall. The second thing I noticed was that my icon wasn’t jittering all over the place at 100mph. The lens seems to lower the sensitivity of the Kinect which is akin to slowing the mouse down on a PC and will not be to everyone’s taste. Personally I don’t mind it but I feel it may be an absolute disaster for any game that doesn’t have good body recognition.
Second game that I booted up was Kinect Sports Season 2. I only really wanted to test the tennis element as this was what I had most trouble with and came across an unexpected problem. Now although the Nyko has put me in the sweet spot of about 4 feet from the TV when I take a step forward to do a power shot I am literally right next to my TV and came within a whisker of putting my hand through the TV when returning the ball. Seeing as I just bought the TV three days ago this would not be a good thing to explain to the good lady. I whipped the disc out sharpish and booted up Kinect Adventures.
Ahhhh Kinect Adventures, a game that involves a lot of ducking and jumping, perfect for burning off those calories from Christmas. Not perfect when your Kinect doesn’t know the starting point of a jump as you have no floor to jump from.
Finally I wanted to test out the two player space so booted up Dance Central 2 and dragged the good lady to the room. Within 5 minutes we had turned it off because, although the Kinect could now see us with us being closer to the TV and we could stand a little wider apart from each other, body parts had almost gone through the screen again. This did however work exceptionally well with Hole In The Wall as the body movement was calmed down and there were no flailing body parts.
Overall, the idea of the Nyko Zoom lens is a good one but practically doesn’t deliver as much as expected. The lens works well for calm games giving the extra space players in a small room require but I feel that I’m just too close to the TV for energetic games and in all of my invisible floor glory rules out any games involving jumping. I think personally I will just put my TV on the wall to gain that extra 12 inches of space.
MLG Rating: 4/10 Platform: Xbox 360 Kinect Release Date: November 2011
Disclosure: Community member SiStevens bought the Nyko Zoom Lens for personal use. The Nyko Zoom was played and tested over a 48 hour period on a number of both Kinect Retail and Arcade Games with a playing area of 9 foot by 6 foot. For more information on what our scores mean, plus details of our reviews policy, click here.