Leap Motion Controller PC Launch Games Review Roundup

LeapMotionLaunchRoundup

Very soon the Leap Motion Controller and Airspace, the app store for it, will launch. So it is a good time to have a look at the games that wait for the eager gamer.
I have used the Leap Motion almost daily for the past few months, so to be honest I am no longer that easily impressed. I noticed that my reviews sometimes are much harsher than the reactions some titles get from fresh users. So please consider this and if you think a game looks interesting, ignore my ramblings and just go for it. Most games are very cheap anyway and you want to play with your new toy right?

If you want to save some time at the end you find a short list of the games I personally deem absolutely must play titles. But at least read the categories I use to group the games, that might be of interest for your decisions.

3D control games, these really use the ability of the Leap to sense your position in 3D space. This group is rather small.

2.5D control games, this group adds some controls that would not be possible with a touchscreen.

2D control games – or the touchscreen conversion group. These games are actually touchscreen games or at least limit interaction to touchscreen mechanics that work with the Leap. Not really a bad thing, titles like Fruit Ninja really get a kick from the Leaps precision and reaction time without the need to obscure the view! This is currently the main group, and since it allows developers to target many platforms, will stay the biggest group I guess.

3D control games

Fingertapps Piano - almost missed this, because I thought it would be a music app, but it is pretty similar to a simple Guitar Hero just for Piano. There are music pieces you can learn. The notes you have to hit fall down and you hit it on an air Piano. The cool thing though, since you are looking at a virtual Piano you should be able to play the pieces on a real Piano sooner or later.
This app does only set you back $2.99 and is among my favorites so far!

Derigo – now here we have a title that really goes into the possibilities of the Leap Motion Controller. You can move around in 3D space, you can change the gesture of your hand and rotate the scene to get a different view, this title really has potential to show of the power of the Leap.

But it stops there, I was not able to find out how to end a move in the game modes. Even in the tutorial I got stuck for the same reason. That is a bit sad, but it can’t be helped I am afraid. High potential, lets see if the author writes me (I asked) how to end a move. For $0.99 I’d almost say it is worth having a look at anyway.

LICHT little adventure – yeah I can’t really give a rating here, because of course it is the best Leap Motion Game EVER (it is my game!!!). But I can say it explores different types of 3D interaction with the basic being 3D movement, guiding a flying orb through a physics based environment. But it also experiements with the orb being grounded by gravity or using the 3D controls to use a searchlight to find objects in the dark.

It’s not the perfect Leap Motion Controller game that makes use of all it offers, but it is a strong contender in the 3D control group. And soon it will get an update for the Oculus Rift headset to show you how powerful the combination of Leap and Rift can be.
At $1.99 certainly something you want to check out (have I mentioned it is my game we are talking about here? So this is shameless self promotion!).

Block 54 – now this is free, so I just gave it a short look. But you get to play a game where you need to remove blocks without a tower collapsing, otherwise also known as Jenga I think. It takes a bit of practice (something I did not really acquire due to time limits and the fact that the game is free, so you should get it in any case).
It was specifically made for the Leap Motion and is certainly something you want to check out even though the 3D controls are less optimized than in Derigo or LICHT.

2.5D control games

Boom Ball – from all the games so far this is one of my favorites. With a price of $4.99 not really one of the cheapest, but it is fun.
There is a new take on the old Breakout game where you now destroy cubes with various different characteristics. Your paddle goes over the full screen since you shoot the ball into 3D space and the ability of the Leap to track your fingers direction allows you to aim the paddle and therefor control the direction you reflect the ball. Also sometimes you can shoot a laser from your fingertip cleaning up those annoyingly resistant cubes you keep missing.
Great game, totally worth the price I think. The soundtrack does get on your nerves after a while though and I have to say that after playing longer my tenosynovitis really got hurtful. So keep that in mind – aiming is painful for some.

Solar Warfare – now this game really gave me a chuckle. The asking price is $4.99 and maybe there is some alternative control mode that makes the game fun. But in it’s current state and playing it with the Leap Motion Controller really reminded me of very early tech demos in alpha stadium games.
You control your ship by moving your hand left/right/up/down, then tilting your hand will result in turning maneuvers and moving your hand forward starts the afterburner or speed up. Put your fingers together instead of spreading them and you shoot your laser, flick your hand to the side and you release a homing missile (most of the time).
Now this leads to a game where your spaceship, that is expected to be a speed monster, is hovering in weird ways most of the time. You stay in distance to enemies and fire at them, and while there is some fun it really feels mostly just ridiculous. Stay away, safe your money.

Digit Duel – the price is $1.99 and you get a little Western shooter for it. You can either shoot the bottles in a bar or go into man on man duel mode and see who is the better shot.
Now this sounds great, and it is a bit of fun, but the accuracy of the game really is pretty much aimbot and toss a coin … at least it felt like that to me. Close call, but I wouldn’t invest my money here … given the cheap price though, if you like Western and always wanted to do the High Noon scene, this is fun and worth a try.

Virtun Air – this is one of the “guide the ball games”. It works, but it lacks originality for my taste. Also the controls are a bit boring, nothing you couldn’t do just as well with a mouse/keyboard.
The $3.99 price tag is what holds me back the most from recommending the title to be honest.
If you like the guide a ball games, then it certainly is a game you can play with your Leap just fine, but don’t expect it to be a special experience.

Jungle Jumper – now this is almost the same game as Froggle with a bit more elements. The only reason it made it into the 2.5D group is because you get a mechanism, like with a flipper where you draw back the release of the ball, just that you use it here to make a little guy fly through the air.
It didn’t manage to keep my attention very long, but it worked okay with the Leap and maybe you like it for $1.99. It certainly is well done!

JungleJumper

Escape Velocity – now here we have a game that is not that bad, but not really good either. The low pricetag of $1.99 and the fact that there even is a worldwide ranking system and nice graphics certainly plays in it’s favor. If you like to buy some fast space shooter style title, this is the one to go for I guess.

Sugar Rush – normally I don’t cover games that feature Disney licenses on indienerds, but given how few interesting games there are for the Leap I make an exception. And Sugar Rush works surprisingly well. You grab an imaginary wheel and control your racecar with it – just like with a real car, only that you don’t turn as much. Very little translates to a lot in the game world, but the controls are still precise and work well.
When you get yourself an extra like a homing missile to fire at an opponent in front of you, then you just have to make a fast forward movement with your fist (that wheel you are grabbing is imaginary after all) and it is fired. The controls work well and I found it a lot of fun to use them.
Sadly the game itself, which is pretty much a weak Mario Kart copy, is not half as good as it’s Leap implementation. For $1.99 still worth a look and so far without competition in the racing sector.

Out of the Blocks – man I really liked the screenshots, so I was very much disappointed when I got to play it. Pretty much the weakest title for the Leap so far, because everyone that has ever played an FPS or Minecraft game will immediately feel like he has to play with both hands bound behind the back, using your feet to move and aim and your nose to fire.
The Leap is a fantastic device, but using it to control an FPS is like trying to go offroad with your Ferrari … it’s just a bad idea. Do not buy this game until they have made some serious adjustments, the very first one I would describe as WASD. I mean you could use the Leap for aiming and shit and that can be fun as Boom Ball has proven.
OotB comes at $1.99, and that is exactly $1.99 too much (nope – I would still say stay away if it were free).

I did not like it. But lots of others actually did not think of it as bad, I even read an AWESOME. So this is a $1.99 game – buy it, play it, decide for yourself if you think the Leap is the right device to control a FPS.

Octorythm – “Unbelievable!” … when the moderator tries to build up that tension of extreme action while the player is short of falling asleep there is a problem with the game. Maybe the problem in this case is that you can’t skip the early easy levels and I was on a time limit so I could check out the other games too.
But this is the “make a fist”, “make a flat hand”, “make a victory sign” version of quick time events, just that the events come in so slowly that you run the risk of sleeping in between …
Damn the game says “…rythm” … so give me a beat to which I make my signs at the VERY LEAST!
$2.99 you might better invest in something else, or maybe not, maybe I just didn’t get far enough.

2D control games

Qbism – this is a nice game for the puzzle gamer, but it is played against the clock and the controls with mouse and keyboard are way superior. Sadly I have not found a way to deactivate the Leap to play without getting an “auto pause” because there was no finger detected.
So – game is cool for the puzzle lover, but don’t buy it on Airspace for the Leap, you don’t do yourself a favor.

Dropchord – a game from Double Fine. I have never been a music game person, so I guess I am totally unfair and you really should check the game out. But I found it boring. It’s $2.99 – just go and get it if the Airspace ratings say it is any good and ignore my opinion (maybe I am just frustrated that in the videos I have seen people being able to make the line go rotating and I never was able to do that).

Froggle – now this is very cute and a rather simple game where you guide a frog jumping from one Leaf to the next (as well as a ton of other stuff, but I never got to that). The controls work pretty well and the style is really cool, if you think you would enjoy something like it, I’d say for $2.99 there is little reason not to give it a try.

I AM VEGEND – now this is a game where I switched to mouse/keyboard controls within a minute or so. It maybe is a nice game, but I only played a bit and certainly wouldn’t buy it so I can play it with the Leap Motion Controller. The $2.99 are better invested into something else.

Fruit Ninja
UPDATE – it was in the Beta, they have demonstrated it often, it was a killerapp for the LEAP.
And now it is not on Airspace. It is no longer available to me. It is a mystery!
- yeah, this game works perfect with the Leap and you get a kick from being able to be 10 times the Ninja you were on a touchscreen. So far I only played it on a 10 finger multitouch PC system, and I do miss having the option of using more than 1 finger. But otherwise the control speed and the fact that nothing obscures your view make this the perfect example of why some touchscreen games just work much better if there is no screen to touch.
Must buy at $2.99, no question! Note – I played it with my finger, but it looks also awesome when played with a chopstick.

Puddle – now this looks like a cool game, and I am certain it is totally worth the $4.99 asked, but as far as cool Leap integration goes this was a big disappointment. My setup is a bit harsh having the Leap Motion Controller behind a well used USB 2.0 hub. I do this to make sure gamers that play my game will still be able to enjoy it.
Well Puddle did suffer from it … all the time I got disconnect messages that annoyed the shit out of me. And the controls are just having 2 fingers in the air and with them tilting the screen. Something you could do just as well with a mouse. Game looks cool, but don’t buy it if you want it for the Leap Motion integration.

Serious Slice – you get a picture of an object and need to slice it in half, the better you manage to get even halfs the higher your score. I did not like it, but the Leap Motion was very well integrated, it worked just as good as Fruit Ninja did. So you need to decide for yourself if you think slicing pictures in half is worth $1.99.

seriousSlice

Qubic – it disguises itself a bit as a music game, but every title that has background music would fall into that category if I would put Qubic into it. The best about the game were the menus, because they actually give you real 3D control and you can click them (the menu actually belongs into the 3D group). But the game itself felt really boring to me. I say spend those $1.99 onĀ  something else.

Balloon Buzz – you are the bee and you need to pop the balloons before they fly away. Very, very simple game but just the right thing to get for your young kid at $1.99 – if it likes bees and popping balloons that is. The controls are simple 2D and work well, just don’t expect any deeper gameplay.

Rock, Paper, Scissors is pretty much the same as Balloon Buzz, just with a more complex gameplay where you can only pop the object if you make the right gesture. So to pop the rock, you need to make the paper gesture, to pop the paper you need to be scissors and so on.
Destroying stuff is also less “pop” sound and more “Apocalypse Now”, so you might consider this one for the slightly older kids. Or maybe not at all. It is just $1.99 though, can’t really say it is a bad game, just a bit weird with the sound.

Clay Jam – now here we have a touchscreen adaptation that really captures ones heart. The clay-made animations are great and I can see many people really enjoying the game, this of course especially goes for the kids.
The Leap integration works well and I can’t really fault the game in the short time I have spend with it. It certainly is something I can recommend at $1.99.

Spiders Escape – the first thing I noticed were the low res render screens, it felt like playing something in a smartphone emulator. Then I tried to play it, but I couldn’t get the hang of it – you try to shoot a spider through a hole in a net. To achieve this you pull her like with a bow on a string – but to let go you are supposed to “pull your hand fast away” and that ALWAYS totally ruined my aiming. Why not use a “put two finger together” mechanic like many other games?
Well – the game itself has potential, but the controls at the moment seem to me too bad to recommend it even at just $1.99.

spidersEscape

Fish Run – yeah, it’s “guide the fish through the tunnels, but don’t touch the mud” … you really should buy it the day Fish learn running. Or the day that touching mud becomes deadly.
But the game is looking bad, controlling barely okay and costing $1.99 … in that price range there are much better choices!

FishRun

Wooden Sen’Sey – $9.99 … now that is a pricetag that really raises my expectations. A good game certainly can cost up to $49.99 and I won’t complain, but a bad game at pretty much the highest pricetag in the store for a game … there is trouble.
Actually, to be fair, I rather enjoyed Wooden Sen’Sey – after I switched to playing it with my Xbox 360 controller. Something that has been proven for decades to be great for platformer action.
Something that has proven to be pretty much useless for platformer action within 5 minutes (or less) is the Leap Motion Controller. You don’t want to platform with it, it is not made for that.
So STAY AWAY, this is not the Leap Motion game you are looking for!

Sortee – this is an interesting title that certainly has some learning effect. Maybe best for kids that still need their parents for guidance, otherwise it might be too boring because of it’s simplicity. All you do is sorting stuff … you know like you do your trash, just that aside from paper or glass, you also have sorting jobs like red and blue.
The German version has weird translations, certainly not a German I would want kids to learn. And if you try to find the settings, you really have a voyage ahead. Then I finally found the sound settings just to learn that I can disable the music, but not the sound effects.
So for kids that still need parent supervision for reading this is certainly an interesting title, otherwise I’d say this is borderline too boring anyway. The Leap implementation is quite good though and one of the few titles where you don’t select stuff by hovering but by doing a quick pinch at the screen. For $2.99 it should find its niche I guess.

PopPop! – you get a manual air gun and the mission to shoot balloons. Moving your fingers over the Leap makes you aim the gun, putting your fingers together operates the gun and you shoot.

Update - well, the people on Airspace really like that game. Some even think it is the best game on Airspace. Now while I can’t agree with that, even after painfully playing through half the game again since I was informed the old was “beta”, you might agree with the people on Airspace – they are many more than just me.
Except for the “bug” pretty much everything I said in the original still stands. Sometimes I manage to fire, sometimes not. Might be the lighting conditions at my workspace … I can’t say.
I do know that it is annoying when there is a bomb balloon popping up after the game is done, you (the little kid that you are) aim at it and fire at it … and the menu option jumps in between the balloon and the bullet like a hero and puts you into a level selection you never wanted to enter.
But that is minor. I still don’t see where all those great reviews come from, but they say it is AWESOME. So go and try it!
….
or you could follow my old recommendation …
Well at least that is the theory, while playing the “moving fingers together” detection really did not work for me (no idea why) and the simple game became rather frustrating.
Put on top of that the rather high price of 2.99$ and the fact that this is the very first game where I actually encountered bugs and there is no recommendation in sight.
Note: not having any configuration options I do not count as a bug, but having all balloons in the menu rendered twice with a “quit” and “resume” button overlapping each other I do count a bug.

Hungry MonstR – so cute, so sweet, and then there is ice cream. I really like the style of the game and with all it’s simplicity I can totally see it being rather enjoyable with the Leap. The only thing that bothers me is that I have no idea how to control it.
You have to flick the monsters into correctly colored tubes before they reach your ice cream and eat it. Very simple with the mouse, but I am just too stupid to get it working with the Leap and the help “flick the monsters into the tubes” offers little help on how to actually do that.
Well – it’s a $4.99 title and while I feel I would normally recommend it for children and casual gamers that like cute monsters, not being able to actually play it with the Leap is kinda keeping me from it.

Loc – I have no idea if this is the right category. Or how good this puzzle game actually is. I have not even an idea about how well the Leap Motion controller has been integrated. All I know is that the intro screen wants me to swipe and that it never registered any attempt I did to swipe. So I have never seen the actual game.
Was the intro screen worth the $1.99 asked? Not really, but maybe I am just swiping it wrong.

The MUST PLAY LIST …

  • Fruit Ninja $2.99 – must play 2D touchscreen hit that really shines on the Leap
    it has vanished without an explanation … I’ll update as soon as I know more
  • Fingertapps Piano $2.99 – Piano Hero with the benefit of learning Piano!
  • Boom Ball $4.99 – Breakout for Leap a true evolution
  • Clay Jam $1.99 – it’s for kids (at heart) and works really well with the Leap
  • Sugar Rush $1.99 – Leap driving works surprisingly well
  • LICHT little adventure $1.99 – cool light effects and true 3D controls make a true Leap hit*
  • Block54 – it is free, what more do you need to know? Okay it is virtual Jenga.
  • Digit Duel – $1.99 … only if you like Western duels.

*please check ratings on Airspace first, but so far I really got great feedback for LICHT which is the authors game and therefor shameless self promotion!

3 thoughts on “Leap Motion Controller PC Launch Games Review Roundup

  1. mad

    Hey Gerald,

    great – thank you very much for the overview and your critical “Angry Video Game Nerd” Like ratings ;).

  2. pixel potato

    Hi Gerald!

    Thanks for reviewing PopPop!
    Put in the same way as you did, reviewing an app we of course don’t count as a bug, but reviewing it before the final release goes out certainly is a bug.
    The issue your are talking about concerning PopPop! was corrected before the official AirSpace launch. All that you could have seen before was, as the references indicated, in BETA.

    We hope true indie nerds will pay much more attention to the actual AirSpace reviews ;)
    Thanks again for talking about us!

    Regards,
    Pixel Potato

  3. Gerald Terveen Post author

    Hey Pixel Potato –

    in that case I will of course give PopPop a new review and since I failed to see that (although I really waited until the very last moment to test the beta versions), I will make it a full review going into detail.
    And of course update the short review.

    Cheers,
    Gerald

    EDIT: okay – no full review, there is just too little game to make a full review. The airspace reviews say it’s awesome. I completely disagree, but I make it a point to mention the airspace reviews. Not much more I can do for ya.

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