Why I roll my eyes whenever someone says motion-sensing controllers are the future of gaming

So I’ll bet nobody is reading this, now that the school year is long over, but I still have thoughts about video games in between my sessions of playing video games, so every now and then, when I’ve had a few daquiris, I decide someone might care and come looking at my blog, so I might as well post something.

A few weeks ago, my friend told me she was going to buy the Special Edition Star Wars Xbox 360 that looks like R2D2 and comes with a C-3PO controller and a white Kinect.

God, why can't they at least match? Ceramic white controllers are so nice...

She was really dang excited about the Kinect for some reason. Aside from the fact that pretty much the best game for the Kinect right now is either Kinect Sports or that game where you play with baby animals, I don’t really see the appeal. Sure, the Kinect is a really impressive piece of technology, and it’s one step closer to that ever-elusive ‘full immersion virtual reality’ Holy Grail that everyone else seems to be chasing, but I don’t see anything more than a casual application for it.

Now granted, I mostly play JRPGs, so what does Microsoft care about me, but I don’t see how the Kinect could offer a worthwhile gaming experience for hardcore Halo players, either.

There’s nothing wrong with wanting to play a more casual game, like with Kinect Adventures, or wanting to game with friends for an instant party, like with Rock Band, and the Kinect is perfect for that sort of thing. But any game that requires the character to move independently in any direction is going to be a problem. In real life, if we needed to move from point A to point B, we would walk there. However, you have to stay 6 feet away from the Kinect, outside of its personal bubble, or else it stops talking to you as if you’re the creepy kid on the playground. What do I do if I’m playing a game and I have to run from a giant boulder? Jog in place? If I wanted to do that, then I would have bought a Wii Fit, morons.

A Japanese man demonstrating how to run from a hoard of zombies on your Wii

If I’m taking heavy enemy fire, do I have to dive behind my couch to make my character take cover behind a waist-high wall? Then the Kinect can’t see me furiously going through the real-life motions of reloading an M-16, and when I pop up from behind my cover, I’ll still be out of ammo.

Worst of all, how the hell am I supposed to play Assassin’s Creed Revelations with a Kinect? I don’t know about you, but I am not a traceuse. I cannot do parkour. And even if I could, I couldn’t do it while standing a constant 6 feet away from the TV in my living room. How am I supposed to ride my horse, or climb up the face of a building, or perform a leap of faith or air assassinate somebody if I’m stuck using my pudgy 5’3″ body to control Ezio? There’s a reason I play Assassin’s Creed: I CAN’T DO THE THINGS EZIO AND ALTAIR DO. If I could climb vertical surfaces and survive 100-foot falls, do you think I would be spending my time sitting on my ass watching simulated people do it? No! I’d be out there climbing buildings and leaping from roof to roof like Batman.

In a world where everyone is a traceur, Assassin's Creed is the equivalent of the world's greatest physicists playing Cookie's Counting Carnival.

You know, once upon a time, I had a really nice DDR mat. I plugged it in to my Playstation, and attempted to use it to play Final Fantasy IX. All of the face buttons were present on the pad in each corner, obviously I had my up-down-left-right D-pad arrows, and I even had Select and Start–all of the buttons I needed to play FFIX. I could not play the game with that controller, though. When the controller is in your hand, it’s intuitive based on past experience with games that use controllers. What I missed most of all, however, was my inability to MOVE. I had to stand on arrows to get my character to walk, and then, Zidane could only WALK, not run, and would only move in a straight line. I couldn’t make turns, I couldn’t maneuver, I couldn’t cross the world map…I was crippled because I lacked a joystick to move with. It was a little bit like someone taking your computer mouse away and telling you to go about your daily computer activities. Yes, there are shortcuts on the keyboard for everything, but some things are significantly easier with a mouse.

The Wii and the Playstation Move both seem to be aware of this. Both of these devices have handheld controllers that the system tracks, and the handheld controllers feature face buttons and, most importantly, a JOYSTICK OPTION. The Wii Nunchuck is pretty much only a joystick, and the Move features a Navigation Controller, which is essentially the left half of a Playstation controller on a stick. The point, however, is that it is possible to use traditional controls in harmony with the motion sensing technology. You could theoretically play non-Move compatible games on your PS3 using the Move controllers, and you can play all sorts of non-Wii Nintendo games on the Wii (Gamecube, Gameboy Advance and DS games are all compatible with the Wii, although you do need a Gamecube controller for Gamecube functionality), if you had the wild hair to do so. But the Kinect cannot offer that sort of backwards compatibility, or even that sort of current (lateral?) compatibility with other Xbox games.

As far as I can see it, the Kinect is just a $100 controller you need if you want to play a puppy petting simulation game. You can save that $100 and go pet a real puppy for free.

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