Brandon Boyer

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Slipping in just this side of its promised June release (several hours before the week’s Xbox Live Arcade content made its July 1st debut), Microsoft has officially released its LOGO-like 3D baby’s-first-programming Xbox 360 application, Kodu.

Having given it a very cursory go, I can say that it does — as I mentioned early on — entirely disprove the press’s lazy comparison as “Microsoft’s answer to LittleBigPlanet“: it does nothing to provide a cohesive, freestanding game experience itself, and is instead an entirely modular set of sparse, broken down worlds intended to both teach the new user basic rules of programming logic, and tiny sets of finished “games” (a lite whack-a-mole, a very basic Frogger clone) to prove what can be done as you come to terms with its setup.


What it doesn’t do is ease users into that interface, as much as it does into its principles: while I didn’t have any problem immediately picking up on its sentence-structured syntax, I’m not positive its younger-skewing audience might without supervision.

Despite that, it does succeed at providing both one of the most charming learning environments I’ve ever toyed with, and does allow for a fairly staggering amount of complexity — with even up to four-player multiplayer functionality — if you let it. It’d be an app I returned to often to catch up on the progress made by its audience, though currently sharing levels only takes place on a peer-to-peer basis, and Microsoft haven’t given any indication that might change to a browsable repository anytime soon.

But still, as a research experiment brought fully to life, and as an engaging logic tutor, it’s instantly become one of the highlights of Microsoft’s Community Games initiatives — whether or not it should have broken fully out to Live Arcade is a debate I’ll save for another day.

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